The WSJ has a great editorial about what Senator Kerry said in the aftermath of the US apparently losing Spain as an ally in Iraq. The 1,200 Spanish troops, while few in number, are going to be missed by Coalition Forces in Iraq. They were fulfilling an essential mission and were extremely well-thought of by other members fo the Coalition.
Here's what the WSJ editorial said:
All of this is a splendid chance for Mr. Kerry to step up and defend American interests. At the very least, he might call Mr. Zapatero's remarks unfortunate. He could express sympathy for the Spanish people but go on to say that all Americans, no matter what their party and differences on strategy, stand united in fighting terrorism and won't be stampeded by threats. He might also note that the war on terror will require help from all nations and urge Mr. Zapatero to reconsider his intention to separate Spain from the U.S.
Alas, so far these are all might-have-saids. Here is what Mr. Kerry did say about Spain in a speech Monday to a firefighters union. We quote in full: "I think this Administration has it backwards. President Bush says we can't afford to fund homeland security. I say we can't afford not to. When it comes to protecting America from terrorism, this Administration is big on bluster and short on action. But as we saw again last week in Spain--real action is what we need. The Bush Administration is tinkering while the clock on homeland security is ticking. And we don't have a moment to waste." Mr. Kerry then renewed his call for the federal government to hire 100,000 new firefighters.
That's it. That's the sole reference in the speech to what is arguably the largest setback in the war on terror since 9/11. Instead of addressing the issues at stake in Iraq, his instinct was to dodge them. Instead of conviction, there was the whiff of opportunism. Senator Kerry placed Spanish events not in the context of U.S. foreign policy but of American homeland security--as if the main lesson of Madrid is that we must better protect our railways.
Senator Kerry had a chance to step up to the plate and say something important in support of America and instead he choose to use the occasion to pander to the fire fighter's union by echoing the old Clinton shtick about hiring 100,000 more bodies by recommending that the federal government hire more firefighters to "fight" terror. (side note: how are 2 more people at our local station going to help fight terror? Washing the truck twice a week instead of once?)
The NY Times also points out that Senator Kerry dodges speaking out about Spain. The reason: politics. Apparently that the Kerry campaign does not want to use a tragedy in Spain to bash Bush is the reason why Senator Kerry has remained silent on Spain. The strategy in the past is to use comments on news events to negatively bash Bush in order to maximumize free media coverage. So Senator Kerry will probably not comment on Spaind because Bashing Bush comes first and supporting America comes second if at all. Just like in the old anti-Vietnam war days.