I dunno, maybe has to do with what's happened in the war/ occupation since last September? Was looking better then? Not as much need for troops?
(Those are genuine musings, btw, not sarcasm.)
I find myself reverting to comments regarding Iraq when discussing the upcoming U.S. elections. But as others and I have pointed out this is a valid concern when Americans discuss legitimate candidates for President this November. So perhaps we are not too off topic being so involved.
I think Kerry (or any Dem Candidate) has a serious problem in this up coming Presidential election. Bush is the incumbent war president and can be forgiven for many sins regarding Iraq in the interest of supporting the troops, U.S. Security, and even promoting ME Democracy--all noble goals.
Adversarialy, what does Kerry bring to the campaign? Admittedly, a great war service record but this is counter balanced with that of anti-war demonstration participation shortly thereafter (not to mention the medal/ribbon throwing debacle). There are two ways to look at this: a soldier converted to pacifism (who can question such noble aspirations?) or a calculated hedging involved with a cold calculation of a political animal? The latter argument is a little involved but can be convinceably made (but not with short political TV ads). But this perceived "Flip Flop" seems symptomatic of Kerry. After all, the Kerry statement "I actually voted for "X" before I voted against it" is self inflicted and not a Karl Rove invention or spin.
George Bush seems steadfast, holding the course, and resolute. This is interpreted by ABB people in various unflattering modes but when the American public tries to envision ABB they seem to have a problem with putting a real world face on the desired individual. This American ambivalence regarding changing horses midstream is wise, just examine Ralph Nader's, John Dean's, and John Kerry's past statements on how they would handle present Iraqi problems facing the U.S. --The first two are totally off the wall the latter ambiguous, at best.
As an American, I feel somewhat cheated of a real choice in the up coming national presidential election. The really interesting and difficult question is twofold: How did this come to be and how to remedy? The answer is singular: Those who consider themselves as Americans, and all the personal responsibility so implied, must respond ...Mea Culpa! I might suggest this reply will certainly confound those in the Middle East and probably vex those in Europe. But their perplexities are irrelevant to American interests. Should Americans strive for allied co-operation? Yes! But we should warily examine European interpretations of "Jeffersonian Democracy" which assumes the erroneous values of the "Age of Enlightenment" which Presuposes the ultimate "goodness" of Mankind? I would respond, Absolutely! nimh, a much respected interlocutor is a valued source on this subject and may have further comments, but I am much more of the John Adams point of view which values opposite opinion not only as a check against factional obsession but a source of education for those possessing open minds.
I remember four years ago Candidate Bush said he would not get the U.S. involved in nation building, as we were in Bosnia with Mr. Clinton. Now, of course, we're in nation building up to our eyeballs in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
I'd like to give Mr. Bush the benefit of the doubt here. I can understand how he would prefer not to be doing this, but world political events (like 911) intervened, and here we are.
I suspect Mr. Kerry is in somewhat the same situation. On the campaign he is saying he won't be so eager to intervene around the world. But should he become President, he may find he has less freedom of action than he would like. Or to quote Michael Caine's character in "The Eagle has Landed", "I no longer control events. Now they control me."
As for global democracy, I also have mixed feelings. I unconditionally wouldn't want any other political system in my country (the U.S.). But from what I've seen working overseas, not every culture is disposed towards this political system. Maybe this is a case where we should lead by example.
My impression, from reading nimh's excerpt of Kerry's speech, is that Kerry is lowering expections to a realistic level, and that he's focussing on what's possible. He's making sense to me. (UPDATE: Oops, I hadn't noticed how old this thread was. I came here through a recent link from nimh. But this strengthens, not weakens, my point, because he is making even more sense now that the Iraq quagmire is deteriorating ever more, doesn't he?)
There is a good deal more wise realpolitick in Bush's policy and actions than in the criticism and proposals of John Kerry. History provides us numerous examples of the difference between individuals and countrys that, when confronted with a serious challenge, themselves shape events and those which are merely shaped by them. Kerry's constantly varying interpretations of events and constantly changing affirmations about what he did and would do are themselves proof positive that he belongs to the second category.
True his after-the-fact rationalizations and explanations are well-composed and often sound better than the relatively blunt and inelegant utterances of Bush, however they clearly betray an individual who lives in a world of rhetoric, nuance, and rationalization, and not in the dangerous real world we inhabit. Anyone who has seriously considered the real problems of strategy in the real world, or who has simply been in a gang fight knows that the objective of a fight is victory, and that one must take out his enemies in a manner and sequence dictated by the logic of the fight, and not any other considerations.