- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 28, 2004

In the final days of the campaign, John Kerry is desperately attempting to make the case that he, not President Bush, can better defend the United States in the global war against radical Islam and its terrorist tactics. One of Mr. Kerry’s most extraordinary attacks came last weekend in Colorado, where he told a Pueblo audience, “With the same energy… I put into going after the Viet Cong and trying to win for our country, I pledge to you I will hunt down and capture or kill the terrorists before they harm us.”

Huh? The Viet Cong? This is a dangerous rewrite of history.

American Enterprise Institute scholar Joshua Muravchik writes in the Weekly Standard that Mr. Kerry met with the two communist delegations to the Paris peace talks on at least two separate occasions, in 1970 and 1971. One delegation was from North Vietnam and the other was the Viet Cong’s provisional revolutionary government. According to Mr. Muravchik, Mr. Kerry endorsed the Viet Cong’s “peace plan,” which was to set a date for U.S. force withdrawal in order to have American POWs returned. Back in the states, Mr. Kerry cited the Viet Cong foreign minister, Mme. Binh, for this extortionate swap.

Kerry was still in uniform in those days. Some believe his disloyal action is the key reason why he didn’t receive an honorable discharge from the Navy until President Jimmy Carter’s general amnesty of 1977. Whether or not this last point is true, it is fact that the young Navy lieutenant met with the Viet Cong and took their position. Both the New York Times and The Washington Post back this up.

This makes a most regrettable gaffe out of Mr. Kerry’s analogy that he will go after bin Laden just like he hunted down the Viet Cong. It is certainly not something that enhances his credibility.

Blunders like these are only making President Bush’s message resonate that much more with voters. When he argues that Mr. Kerry doesn’t understand the global war on terrorism and is not the man to prosecute it, voters are tuned in. Recently in Wilkes Barre, Pa., with great clarity, Mr. Bush again laid out his wartime argument: The threat is real, the battleground is global, and “there is no place for confusion and no substitute for victory.”

Mr. Kerry only focuses on bin Laden, who has been holed up in a bunker for the last several years. But when you look at the terrorist attacks on the United States, Saudi Arabia, Bali, Istanbul, Casablanca, Tunisia and Spain — four continents in all — the globalness of this war becomes very clear. So does the moral clarity of defining good and evil, or separating our friends from our enemies.

Mr. Kerry has no policy on the state-sponsored harboring of terrorists. But these states are our enemies, too. Mr. Kerry has never understood the Bush doctrine of pre-emption, which says plainly that if we wait to attack it will be too late. Mr. Kerry and his advisers believe we are in a pseudo war, one that can be fought in criminal courts. In fact, the United States faces an irregular army that can only be defeated through military means.

Mr. Kerry also believes Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a diversion. But we have learned from the Duelfer report that Saddam was using the U.N. oil-for-food program to bribe officials in France, Germany, Russia and elsewhere to finance prohibited goods and weapons that would recreate his banned weapons programs. “Iraq would have been able to produce mustard agents in a period of months and nerve agents in less than a year or two,” according to Mort Zuckerman’s recent column in U.S. News & World Report.

Mr. Kerry has chosen to ignore all this. He also continues to skirt his “global test” stratagem that would place U.S. safety and security in the hands of the United Nations or Europe. But this is no way to prosecute World War IV, which is really the most accurate context for the current war against Islamic fascism.

Finally, with all his pessimism, Mr. Kerry seems incapable of understanding that Mr. Bush’s vision of freedom and democracy on the march is actually working. Free elections have been held successfully in Afghanistan. In recent days, Carlos Valenzuela, the top U.N. electoral expert, told the Associated Press that preparations for the crucial January election in Iraq are “on track.”

You see, President Bush has a vision and a policy. Warts and all, the execution of that policy is moving ahead successfully. When the president says that there must be no uncertainty or weakness, that there is no place for confusion and no substitute for victory, the U.S. electorate is listening carefully.

Lawrence Kudlow is a nationally syndicated columnist and is CEO of Kudlow & Co., LLC, and CNBC’s economics commentator.

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