In his quest for the presidency, John Kerry has sought to portray President Bush as someone with a mindless contempt for our European allies and the United Nations. The way to achieve success in Iraq, Mr. Kerry says, is to elect a president “who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side.” In a Dec. 3 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry said that, if he were elected president, he would “go to the United Nations and travel to our traditional allies to affirm that the United States has rejoined the community of nations.” This, Mr. Kerry would have us believe, is far superior to Mr. Bush’s approach to dealing with Saddam Hussein — one which did not win the approval of Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac or Gerhard Schroeder.
One would never know it from listening to Mr. Kerry, but his approach has been tried by the Europeans for more than a year in an attempt to halt Iran’s nuclear program. It has been an abject failure, while Mr. Bush’s more assertive foreign-policy approach has achieved some important successes.
Mr. Bush, for example, ended any possibility that Saddam Hussein could build more weapons of mass destruction and intimidated Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi into ending his WMD programs. By contrast, diplomats representing the EU 3 (Britain, France and Germany) said Sunday that talks in Paris produced “no substantial progress” in restricting Iran’s nuclear activities. On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi announced that Iran has resumed building centrifuges to enrich uranium for atomic weapons.
Over the past year, the International Atomic Energy Agency has issued a series of reports documenting Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons programs. During this period, the Bush administration has reluctantly deferred to the Europeans’ desire for a softer approach to Iran.
While this has been taking place, Mr. Kerry has actually attacked the Bush administration for being too tough on the dictatorship in Iran. In his Dec. 3 speech, for example, he said: “It is incomprehensible and unacceptable that this administration refuses to broker an arrangement with Iran.” Mr. Kerry touted the EU’s effort as a superior alternative to the Bush approach. In February, Mr. Kerry’s national security issues coordinator, Rand Beers, accused the Bush administration of blocking U.S.-Iranian talks. That same month, the Kerry campaign sent a letter to the Tehran Times (a mouthpiece for Iran’s Islamist government) suggesting that the Bush administration is to blame for many of the world’s problems.
Mr. Kerry’s formulation is quite simply false. When it comes to Iran policy, the fundamental problem thus far is that Washington has deferred to Mr. Kerry’s ideological soulmates in Europe, whose diplomatic approach to Iran has yielded absolutely nothing and given the regime more time to develop nuclear weapons. There are few better recent illustrations of the bankruptcy of Mr. Kerry’s foreign-policy approach.