[Marxism] Staying the course

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 29 17:18:45 MDT 2004


The London Telegraph July 29, 2004
Kerry 'will not change foreign policy'
By David Rennie in Boston

America's allies expecting a shift in United States foreign policy from 
a President John Kerry should think again, his top advisers said yesterday.

Instead, members of Mr Kerry's inner circle could promise only "stark 
contrasts" of personality and style between President George W Bush and 
their candidate, who they vowed would be a "hands-on, engaged, 
diplomat-in-chief".

Rand Beers, the national security adviser to the Kerry campaign, opened 
a high-level briefing with a warning: "In many ways, the goals of the 
two administrations are in fact not all that different."

Mr Kerry has come under growing criticism from foreign policy 
commentators for failing to offer more than the blandest proposals that 
he would restore frayed alliances and behave more respectfully of allies 
and international bodies.

But yesterday another top adviser, Richard Holbrooke, offered no details 
on policy questions ranging from Iraq to the Middle East or America's 
withdrawal from the Kyoto Treaty and the International Criminal Court.

His silence was unsurprising. Although 95 per cent of rank and file 
delegates to this week's convention opposed the Iraq war, Mr Kerry voted 
for it, and has hinted that he might keep US troops there for several 
years. He has promised that he would win extra help from allies by 
burnishing America's image so that it is "respected, not simply feared".

Instead, Mr Holbrooke, a former United Nations ambassador who is spoken 
of as a possible secretary of state in a Kerry administration, offered 
what he clearly hoped was a reassuring psychological sketch of Mr Kerry 
as a cosmopolitan internationalist.

Mr Holbrooke told a packed gathering of foreign political leaders and 
ambassadors to look past the Democrats' manifesto and focus on Mr 
Kerry's life story. "John Kerry is a fundamental internationalist," he 
said. "It is relevant that his father served as a foreign service 
officer. It is relevant that his father served in Berlin at the height 
of the Cold War."

Mr Kerry was partly educated in Europe, spoke foreign languages and was 
married to the multi-lingual Teresa Heinz Kerry, of Portuguese heritage, 
he added.

"He likes to travel, he understands the issues. He's so interested in 
foreign cultures; one of the biggest things that he has been interested 
in recently has been the Tour de France," Mr Holbrooke told an audience 
that included the British ambassador, Sir David Manning, several Labour 
MPs including the former foreign secretary, Robin Cook, and the Liberal 
Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy.

Mr Kennedy appeared underwhelmed by the assurances about building 
alliances. During his visit to the Democratic convention, he said he was 
encountering "quite a lot of ambiguity about how foreign policy will be 
pursued, and how fundamentally different it would be, from our point of 
view".

Mr Kennedy said there was a "simplistic" assumption in Britain that "if 
Kerry is elected, all our problems will be over".

With Kerry in the White House, allies in Europe might find themselves 
under heavy pressure to match multilateral rhetoric with money and 
troops, he said.

"Kerry people have indicated that if they become more multi-lateral, the 
quid pro quo would be that we can't sit on the sidelines and criticise. 
They're talking about military overstretch, they're going to be looking 
for contributions from us, and from France and Germany."

His views were echoed by Labour MPs attending the convention. Mike 
Gapes, Labour MP for Ilford South, said: "I don't believe there will be 
a massive change in foreign policy if there's a change in 
administration." But he predicted that a second Bush administration 
might prove a kindlier, gentler foreign partner than the current US 
government - although such predictions are not universally shared in 
Washington.

On a visit to Washington earlier this month, Mr Gapes said he found the 
deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage, bullish that the State 
Department's more cautious approach to foreign policy was in the 
ascendant, with neo-conservative hawks at the Pentagon wounded by Iraq.

In a final proof of how far Labour has changed, Mr Gapes expressed 
concern that a Kerry win might even trigger trade spats with the 
Americans as US trade unions flexed their muscles.

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