Thursday, October 28, 2004

The latest irresponsible charge from John Kerry is that President Bush let Osama bin Laden escape. You would think we had bin Laden in custody and Mr. Bush left the door open.

We never “let” bin Laden escape. We never had him. Mr. Bush didn’t even have another country offer to turn him over to us, as happened when Bill Clinton was president.

As with so many other things, Mr. Kerry says that he would do it better: “I would have used our military, and we would have gone after and captured or killed Osama bin Laden.” He would have been “tough,” he says.

Do you remember an old musical comedy song that said, “Anything you can do I can do better”? Who would have dreamed that someday a grown man would be running for president of the United States on that childish theme?

Speaking of bin Laden, have you noticed that it has been a long time since we have seen hide or hair of him? There has not even been an audio tape, which he could have made easily on a portable tape recorder in any of the many caves in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden’s No. 2 two guy has been doing the talking — which may mean that the No. 2 guy is now really the No. 1 guy, if bin Laden is no longer alive.

We don’t know. It may be years before we know. But Mr. Kerry apparently knows everything, including that we had bin Laden “cornered” in Afghanistan. The idea of cornering somebody in the vast mountainous regions of Afghanistan would be funny if it were not so tragic that a candidate for president would say such irresponsible things.

Sadly, it is nothing new for Mr. Kerry to say irresponsible things. His denunciations of our “going it alone” in Iraq ignore the countries whose thousands of troops are fighting and dying alongside our own in Iraq, not to mention the countries around the world that are cooperating in disrupting the financial networks that keep the international terrorist networks supplied with money.

Just because Mr. Kerry’s beloved France is not with us does not mean that we are “going it alone.” France has never been with us, whether under Mr. Bush or Mr. Clinton or Ronald Reagan. The French have had too many of their own foreign policy disasters for us to take them as our guide in anything.

The reason that there was a Vietnam war in the first place is that France would not grant Vietnam independence after World War II, as other European colonial powers granted independence to their colonies in Asia and Africa.

This gave the Vietnamese Communists a chance to pose as freedom fighters and fool people inside and outside Vietnam — including Mr. Kerry, who referred to communist dictator Ho Chi Minh as the George Washington of his country.

Only after being decisively beaten in what was then called French Indo-China did France pull out, leaving it up to the United States to try to defend those Vietnamese who wanted to be both independent and not living under a communist dictatorship.

Mr. Kerry dismissed “the mystical war against communism” in his 1971 book “The New Soldier,” where he also said, “We cannot fight communism all over the world.” He added: “I think we should have learned that lesson by now.”

Ronald Reagan didn’t learn that lesson. He did fight communism all over the world — and he won, no thanks to John Kerry, who repeatedly voted in the Senate to weaken our military.

As for the war in Vietnam, Mr. Kerry’s 1971 book said, “We are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions.” Any other body would include the Vietnamese communists, to whom deliberately murdering civilians, torturing and raping were all in a day’s work.

More than a century ago, John Stuart Mill warned about people who “take part with any government, however unworthy, which can make out the merest semblance of a case of injustice against our own country.” But Mill probably never dreamed that such a person would somebody be a candidate for president of the United States.

Stop and think what it would mean to have such an irresponsible man as president before you go into the voting booth on Nov. 2.

Thomas Sowell is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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