Bush Campaign Lies

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #64: John Kerry 'Doesn't Know the Enemy' in the War on Terror 

Since I'm a bit rusty after my 4-month hiatus, I thought I'd go after the low-hanging fruit. The Bush campaign has broadcast almost two dozen ads in that time; they should provide fertile ground.

For example, consider the Bush ad 'Yakuza', released on July 1. It picks out a 3-second sound bite from the Kerry ad 'Pilot' and uses it to pad out a 30-second spot claiming --- surprise --- that Kerry will be ineffective in the War on Terror.

As it turns out, the Kerry camp is also guilty of a bit of distortion. In the Pilot ad, the voice over states that Kerry is the "author of a strategy to win the war on terror" while showing the cover of Kerry's 1997 book The New War: The Web of Crime That Threatens America's Security. This suggests that Kerry has written an entire book about how to win the war on terror, and that his 1997 publication is it. This is, of course, completely false, and the Bush folks are correct to call him on it. Kerry has not written a book explaining how he'll win the war on terror.

However, since Kerry's lie is a pretty tame one and not likely to get much traction, the Bush folks distort things beyond recognition in order to fit their prime campaign attack: Kerry is soft on terror.

Here's a summary of the Bush response:

  1. Kerry's target in the war on terror is the Japanese Yakuza.
  2. Kerry's book never mentions Osama bin Laden.
  3. Kerry's book never mentions al Qaeda.
  4. Kerry calls Yasser Arafat a 'statesman' in the book.
  5. The New Republic says the book 'missed the mark'.
  6. The focus of the book is global crime, not terrorism.
Let's start with the last statement first. The focus of the book is combating global crime, and not terrorism, a fact which should be obvious given the book's title. It is therefore clear that neither the Kerry campaign or the Bush campaign should use it to draw conclusions about Kerry's plan for fighting the war on terror, which pretty much moots the rest of the Bush camp's charges.

Anyone genuinely interested in studying the real Kerry strategy for fighting the war on terror should read the Kerry campaign's documentation for the Pilot ad. Those wishing to smear Kerry should do everything they can to avoid facts.

Which brings us back to the Bush campaign charges. Continuing in reverse order, it's true that Michael Crowley of The New Republic wrote a review of the book in which he says that Kerry 'missed the mark' on combating terrorism. Again, this is not really a surprise, since the focus of the book was global crime, of which Kerry considers terrorism a part. And even in this review, Crowley gives Kerry props for the one chapter in the book which does address terrorism, for:

. . . predicting that 'one mega-terrorist event in any of the great cities of the world [will] change the world in a single day.' Indeed, he did. Kerry also, to his credit, accurately identified the danger posed by 'loose nukes' in the former Soviet Union and all but predicted that 'the Big One' -- a terrorist nuke in a major city -- is inevitable.
So, 4 years before 9/11, in a book which only devoted a single chapter to terrorism, Kerry accurately predicted that a 9/11-style terrorist attack would occur. Bush, on the other hand, couldn't be bothered to take the threat from bin Laden seriously despite receiving a presidential briefing on it just 5 weeks before the attacks. So, who is it that 'doesn't know the enemy' in the war on terror?

The charges that Kerry's book doesn't mention bin Laden or al Qaeda are accurate, but again, the book isn't about terrorism. And Kerry did describe Yasser Arafat as a 'statesman':

Terrorist organizations with specific political agendas may be encouraged and emboldened by Yasser Arafat's transformation from outlaw to statesman, while those whose only object is to disrupt society require no such 'role models.'
Kerry wrote this in 1997, just three years after Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize, and three years before Arafat cut off negotiations in a hoped-for breakthrough agreement with Israel. Kerry doesn't dispute Arafat's outlaw past, but no reasonable person can question that Arafat had achieved the level of statesman by 1997.

Which leaves only the first and most absurd charge, that Kerry's target in the war on terror is the Japanese Yakuza. According to FactCheck.org, the Yakuza doesn't get much play in Kerry's book. Of course, even if they did, one shouldn't conclude that they are Kerry's current target in the war on terror since Kerry wrote the book seven years ago. And we can't even conclude the Yakuza were Kerry's main target seven years ago because . . . .

(Wait for it . . . .)


Liberal partisans looking for a more 'red-meat' response to this ad can check out what the Kerry campaign had to say.

7:40 PM