An unsigned editorial in the Washington Post today shows the extent of the paper's reluctance to criticize John Kerry or praise President Bush. To wit:
NINE MONTHS AGO, as a confrontation loomed between Iran and the United Nations over Iran's illicit nuclear programs, three European governments staged a preemptive operation. Flying to Tehran, the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany struck a deal with Iran's Islamic regime: The Europeans would block a referral of Iran's violations to the U.N. Security Council and provide technical cooperation, and in exchange Iran would stop its work on uranium enrichment, fully disclose its nuclear programs and accept a new U.N. protocol giving inspectors greater access. (Only in the eyes of people naive enough to believe the mullahs -- ed.); some in Paris and Berlin smugly suggested that it had been given an object lesson by the Europeans in how "soft power" could be used to manage the rogue states in President Bush's "axis of evil."
This week, with the world's attention focused on the troubled situation in Iraq, the European version of preemption is yielding its own bitter -- if less bloody -- result. (Can you spot the non sequitur? I knew you could -- ed.) Inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency have reported that Iran never honored its agreement; it has stalled and stonewalled the inspectors while continuing to work on elements of a nuclear program that could soon allow it to produce weapons. The Europeans have responded by drafting for approval by the 35-member IAEA board a stern statement demanding Iranian cooperation; Tehran has replied with threats to restart uranium enrichment and suspend negotiations with the West.
Probably there will be no such rupture, and IAEA inspectors and European officials will resume their efforts to obtain Iranian cooperation. But there can be no disguising the fact that the European strategy for handling one of the world's most dangerous proliferation problems is proving feckless.
Meanwhile, Kerry has been preaching from the "soft power" pulpit:
On the issue of Iran's nuclear program, Kerry said, "We should call their bluff, and organize a group of states that will offer the nuclear fuel they need for peaceful purposes and take back the spent fuel so they can't divert it to build a weapon. If Iran does not accept this, their true motivations will be clear." (Is he the last person in the world to not realize their motives?) But Kerry didn't say what would happen once those motivations were clear.
See also, this June 1 speech. So, you'd think the point of the editorial is that this should be an object lesson for the junior senator from Massachusetts. You would be wrong:
For now, military action is not an option in Iran, at least for Western countries. But if a crisis is to be avoided, a better strategy is needed. The Bush administration, which once advocated referral of the Iranian matter to the Security Council for consideration of sanctions, now is merely pressing for a deadline for Iranian compliance. The Europeans reject even that as too aggressive. Yet it should now be clear that if Iranian nuclear ambitions are to be checked, Europe -- and Russia -- will have to forcefully employ the leverage of their diplomatic and economic relations with Tehran.
Only Bush is mentioned, and accused of doing too little. Nary a word is mentioned that Kerry advocates the exact same strategy that has failed miserably. Note also this lovely bit of equivocation from the paragraph preceeding the one above (not excerpted here in full):
[The European "soft power" strategy] has not produced the daily casualties and chaos now seen in Iraq. (Again with the gratuitous non sequiturs -- ed.) But it could, within a year or two, lead to an outcome as bad as or worse than any now foreseen in Baghdad: possession of nuclear weapons or the means to quickly make them by a hard-line Islamic regime that sponsors several anti-Western terrorist organizations.
According to this site, 860 Americans have been killed thus far in Iraq, 4682 wounded. I don't see how there can be any doubt that the death toll resulting from detonation of a nuclear weapon would be ten to a hundred-fold greater than the casualties suffered in Iraq. To minimize the impact of a single a nuclear attack as only "as bad as" the casualties suffered during a 16-month war and occupation is, at best, intellectually dishonest.
It's one thing to attack President Bush because you don't like his policies; that's what editorials are for. But to attack President Bush in an editorial showing the failure of the very strategy that Bush's presumptive opponent advocates, without mentioning same, is the height of hypocrisy.