- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 20, 2004

Sen. John Kerry’s many remarks advocating a more international approach to American foreign policy, his proclamation foreign leaders would prefer him as president over George Bush, and his Senate voting record tell you two things:

(1) Mr. Kerry lacks an appreciation for America’s place as a world leader.

(2) Mr. Kerry favors a weaker America.

America has a special, in fact unique, place in the world. The only superpower, both militarily and economically, functions under the laws of the world’s premier and longest active democracy.

People from across the globe flock to America not because it is just like any other country but because America is unique and special. Immigrants want a better life for their children and grandchildren. And like generations from other lands before them there is only one clear place to move: America.

America is the land of prosperity, achievement and hope. At the height of the Vietnam War in 1969, American men walked on the moon. In South Vietnam, families lucky enough to have TV sat down to watch and to marvel at the achievement of their protector. Others had the same feeling of elation and hope when they learned in other ways about the moon walk. This despite the carnage of the ongoing war against communism. But many in South Vietnam saw that war as another example of America’s grit, determination to do the right thing and the promise of achievement.

The history and legacy of America is to try, to win, to achieve and to rebuild with the hope for a better world. And did America volunteer for this legacy and its resulting responsibilities? No: America became the hope for many on December 7, 1941. America was “attacked into” taking on and leading the defeat of the Axis powers. Then, in customary American style, America rebuilt its former enemies and helped make them into economic superpowers.

This great achievement told generations of Americans they were special and America itself was special. America created the United Nations and funded the bulk of its work, in order to spread the achievement and hope of our democracy.

While Americans learned they had a special place in the world order, Europeans learned (rightly) that centuries of supernationalism in Europe led to too many wars, including World War I and II. Thus the European Union today, and the reluctance of France and Germany to back President Bush in Iraq.

European-style supernationalism never dawned on Americans because they were building their nation in the unique democracy of “the melting pot.” Immigrants from all over came to America to join in the achievement, the responsibility and the great democratic experiment. Supernationalism is not possible here in America.

Despite setbacks in Vietnam and elsewhere, in the post-World War II years many Americans realized America battled the North Koreans to a standstill, landed men on the moon and overwhelmed the Soviet Union through determination, technology and achievement, both economically and militarily. America best served international and coalition efforts as the leader.

And what did Mr. Kerry apparently learn? After his own valiant service in Vietnam, he came back to testify before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 23, 1971, that U.S. soldiers “had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan.” And did he know this to be true, or see it? No. He heard it from others.

This Kerry display, which still causes many veterans great unease if not outright rage, was followed by almost two decades of votes against U.S. military and intelligence efforts. Now Mr. Kerry advocates an America much more committed to the multinationalism supported by the U.N. and many Europeans. He even claims many world leaders are on his side.

Of course they are: Non-Americans would love to see America vote on an equal footing with Chad and Haiti in the U.N. Like Mr. Kerry, they have no need for America’s special place in the world — until their own countries suffer a serious setback and they need America’s help.

Unfortunately, people running many other countries not only reject the special leadership role of America but also have a miserable record of choosing American presidents.

As Bill Clinton ran for president the first time, the most common question heard in foreign capitals was, “Who is Bill Clinton and where is Arkansas?” Foreigners that year fully expected (and most wanted) George H.W. Bush to win. Foreigners knew Mr. Bush had just run Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait as the leader of a vast coalition, had once headed the CIA, had been ambassador to China and, for eight years, vice president.

America became the hope for many again on September 11, 2001. That day’s heinous attack on America should remind us all of America’s special leadership responsibility. What other country could possibly have taken the role as the leader of the coalition to fight terrorism worldwide?

Sen. Kerry: Check your world history and you’ll see America as the special leader in the world that Americans, and many oppressed and struggling people in the world have come to expect. America has a legacy of leadership, hope, responsibility and achievement Mr. Kerry clearly does not understand.

JOHN CAREY

Mr. Carey is an international defense analyst and writer in Arlington, Va. He served 20 years in the U.S. Navy.

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