Something has long troubled me about John Kerry's assertion that President Bush has squandered the goodwill of "important" allies since 9/11. Is it safe to assume that he believes Al Gore would have nurtured and maintained this goodwill with our "important" allies after 9/11 had he been "selected" as president by the Florida Supreme Court? If so, how would a President Gore have accomplished this feat? I leave aside the question of whether this is what is really important for another time.
There are two ways that a President Gore might have been able to do this. First, perhaps our "important" allies would have granted a President Gore more leeway in acting decisively to protect America than they were ever willing to grant President Bush. I think this is true up to a point, but it is difficult to know exactly what that point is. I also do not think that you can blame President Bush for the intransigence of our "important" allies when it comes to fighting the War on Terror. What it reveals to me is the relative unseriousness of our "important" allies when it comes to assessing what is important to us, to them, and to all of us together.
Second, a President Gore might have curried favor by doing exactly what I believe most people suspect he would have done -- appeal to the transnational progressive institutions he respects and then abide by their decisions, regardless of the will of the American people. I suffer from no illusions about how the US is viewed by these institutions and wish to never sacrifice our sovereignty to them, at least until they have the same inherent respect for the individual that motivates and drives us. At best, I believe this approach would have only kicked the can down the road a bit, allowing our enemies to grow ever stronger, until a day of reckoning could no longer be avoided. As history has shown many times, waiting until the threat is demonstrably imminent generally leads to horrific tragedies than could have been dealt with much quicker and with less loss of life and materiel. It is perhaps worth noting that most of us are asleep when something has to absolutely, positively be delivered overnight, which is one way of defining imminent.
Unfortunately, I believe Mr. Kerry has been quite clear that he thinks much more like Mr. Gore than President Bush on these matters. Let us hope we do not find ourselves in the not too distant future saying, "I wish the adults were still in charge." Worse yet, let us fervently hope that we do not wake up one day sincerely asking the same question Michael Moore has asked rhetorically,
Dude, where's my country."