Byline: Kenneth R. Timmerman, INSIGHT
The Democratic Party's presidential front-runner, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), has pledged that if elected he will abandon the president's war on terror, begin a dialogue with terrorist regimes and apologize for three-and-one-half years of mistakes by the Bush administration.
In a sweeping foreign-policy address to the Council on Foreign Relations in December, Kerry called the U.S. war on terror as conceived and led by President George W. Bush "the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in modern history." Kerry's remarks were widely praised by journalists. The Associated Press headlined its report on his speech, "Kerry Vows to Repair Foreign Relations." The Knight Ridder news service noted that the new focus on foreign policy "plays to Kerry's strength." None of the major U.S. dailies found Kerry's unusually strident language at all inappropriate. "Kerry Vows to Change U.S. Foreign Policy; Senator Describes Steps He Would Take as President," the Washington Post headlined ponderously.
Presidential contenders have criticized sitting presidents in times of war before, but what's unique today is that "it has become the rule, not the exception," says Michael Franc, vice president for government relations at the Heritage Foundation. "With a few notable exceptions, you have almost the entire Democratic Party hierarchy that opposes what Bush is doing in the most vitriolic and emotional terms."
Heritage presidential historian Lee Edwards called it "not a foreign-policy analysis but a polemical speech, filled with inflammatory rhetoric that is disturbing and beyond the pale. What this suggests is that Mr. Kerry wants to take us back to President [Bill] Clinton and his U.N.-led multilateral policies."
Kerry promised to spend the first 100 days of his administration traveling the world to denounce his predecessor, apologize for his "radically wrong" policy, and seek "cooperation and compromise" with friend and foe alike. Borrowing language normally reserved to characterize "rogue" states, Kerry said 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."
Perhaps frustrated that his radical departure from the war on terror was not getting much attention in the trenches of Democratic Party politics, Kerry ordered his campaign to mobilize grass-roots supporters to spread the word. In one e-mail message, obtained by Insight and confirmed as authentic by the Kerry camp, the senator's advisers enlisted overseas Democrats to launch a letter-writing and op-ed campaign denouncing the Bush foreign-policy record.
"'It is in the urgent interests of the people of the United States to restore our country's credibility in the eyes of the world," the message states. "America needs the kind of leadership that will repair alliances with countries on every continent that have been so damaged in the past few years, as well as build new friendships and overcome tensions with others."
The e-mail succeeded beyond the wildest dream of Kerry's handlers at least, so they tell Insight. It was immediately picked up by the Mehr news agency in Tehran, and appeared the next day on the front page of a leading hard-line daily there.
"I have no idea how they got hold of that letter, which was prepared for Democrats Abroad," Kerry's top foreign-policy aide, Rand Beers, tells Insight. "I scratched my head when I saw that. The only way they could have gotten it was if someone in Iran was with Democrats Abroad."
The hard-line, anti-American Tehran Times published the entire text of the seven-paragraph e-mail under a triumphant headline announcing that Kerry pledged to "repair damage if he wins election." By claiming that the Kerry campaign had sent the message directly to an Iranian news agency in Tehran, the paper indicated that the e-mail was a demonstration of Kerry's support for a murderous regime that even today tops the State Department's list of supporters of international terrorism. …