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It's All About "Tone"
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As this New Republic article points out, many of Kerry's foreign policy positions are not really that different from Bush's.

So, President John Kerry would not immediately sign the ICC [International Criminal Court] statute and the Kyoto Protocol, pull America's troops out of Iraq, or promise never to go to war without the UN's say-so. On all these issues, his positions are close to those of his opponent's.

The difference, the author says, is one of "tone" and "style":

Would a change in tone be enough to make the Europeans embrace a pro-war, pro-pre-emption, anti-Kyoto and anti-ICC President Kerry? It might. After all, the difference between Bush and Kerry is somewhat analogous to the difference between Bush and Clinton. Clinton went to war without UN approval in Kosovo, signed the ICC statute only at the last minute knowing it would be rejected, and never pushed hard for Kyoto ratification in the Senate. But because of his tone of inclusion, his willingness to voice multilateralist ideas, he was extremely popular with allies--especially in Europe.

See? It has fuck-all to do with actual policy. As long as you pretend really hard that you care what other people think, while actually not giving a crap, that's the most important thing, right?

This kind of analysis makes me want to barf. Yes, I understand that diplomacy and back-scratching are important aspects of international relations. But there's also something to be said for not being afraid to piss some people off from time to time. I somehow doubt that a smoother operator would have been able to get France and Germany to sign on to an Iraq War. A Clinton or Kerry might have been able to tell other countries "no" on things like the ICC and the Kyoto Treaty while making it sound like a "maybe" or a "yes", but sometimes it's good to know who your real allies are (Britain and Australia), who your fair-weather friends are (Spain and the Phillipines), and who the people are you say they're your friend when they really aren't (France and Germany).

There's a certain sense of...clarity to knowing exactly where you stand with your supposed allies. Kerry may actually be better at smoothing ruffled feathers (who knows if he actually would be), but it may actually be a good idea to have feathers ruffled every once in a while.

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