Past performance is no guarantee of future results:
Mr. Kerry understands that the biggest threat to U.S. security comes from terrorists wielding nuclear or biological weapons. He pledges to add two divisions to the U.S. Army; try harder to secure nuclear weapons and materials around the world, and improve U.S. preparations for a bioterrorism attack. There is no way to know whether he would be more successful than Mr. Bush in slowing North Korea’s and Iran’s march toward becoming nuclear-armed states, but he attaches the right priority to both problems. He is correct that those challenges, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, call for the kind of sustained diplomacy that has been missing for four years. We hope he would be firmer than Mr. Bush in standing up to the genocide unfolding in Sudan.
We do not view a vote for Mr. Kerry as a vote without risks. But the risks on the other side are well known, and the strengths Mr. Kerry brings are considerable. He pledges both to fight in Iraq and to reach out to allies; to hunt down terrorists, and to engage without arrogance the Islamic world. These are the right goals, and we think Mr. Kerry is the better bet to achieve them.
— “Kerry for President,” the Washington Post’s (utterly predictable) editorial, Sunday, October 24, 2004.
On Tuesday, Kerry offered the following explanation of why the Syrian peace conference he’s pushing will succeed: “The Assad regime knows full well that the purpose of” the conference is “the installation of a provisional government.” And “the Syrian government has accepted to come to Geneva.” It apparently follows that Assad will show up and placidly agree to hand over power. If not, Kerry ventured, “the Russians and the Iranians . . . will make certain that the Syrian regime will live up to its obligation.”
Kerry’s optimism was far from exhausted. His next stop was devoted to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, both of whom had broken a vow of silence to say the negotiations Kerry persuaded them to begin in July had gone nowhere. Not to worry, said Kerry: “I am convinced from my conversations” with them “that this is not mission impossible; this can happen.”
All this was before his weekend trip to Geneva for what became a failed attempt to close a deal with Iran on its nuclear program. Kerry’s conclusion: “I can tell you, without any reservations, we made significant progress.”
Stipulated: The mission of the U.S. secretary of state is to tackle big problems diplomatically, even if it means taking on missions impossible. Still, it’s hard to think of a previous chief of Foggy Bottom who has so conspicuously detached himself from on-the-ground realities.
— “John Kerry’s Middle East dream world,” by Jackson Diehl, the Washington Post’s deputy editorial page editor, yesterday.
(Regarding Diehl’s last sentence quoted above, really, at this point, what difference does it make?)