Time For Kerry To Talk Tough On Terrorism

The train-bomb carnage in Madrid has ratcheted the terrorism stakes even higher — yet again. Apparently the horrific deed that killed 200 and maimed a thousand was enough to galvanize the Spanish electorate into voting out the center right Popular Party of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, a staunch American ally against terrorism. Socialist Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatera had promised to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq in the absence of a United Nations’ mandate.

There’s little doubt that Zapatera will do precisely that, but the loss of 1,300 Spanish troops is hardly the issue. It’s all about blackmail.

How ironic that in a hierarchy of blame for mass murder, the Madrid murderers were found less culpable than the Ibero-American alliance against them. The Spanish election results which, in effect, rewarded a grisly, terrorist strategy, had to have resounded with other U.S. allies, such as Great Britain, Italy, Poland, The Netherlands and Australia. In knee-jerk fashion, European Commission President Romano Prodi has inexplicably declared that “It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists.”

Neville Chamberlain would have been proud.

Presumably, the divide-and-be-conquered message was meant for the U.S. as well. The best response, however, can be delivered by Sen. John F. Kerry — not President George W. Bush.

The president, for all his international — and domestic — detractors, is a known quantity. He’s on the hunt for the duration.

But Kerry is the international wild card. How much campaign rhetoric would actually translate into meaningful policy differences? For example, the U.N. arguably would be consulted more frequently by a Kerry Administration, but would it really matter what Syria, Cameroon or any other member of the Security Council thought when it came to the U.S. defending itself in a perilous, terror-infested world? We’re the ones with the big target as well as the big arsenal.

Kerry needs to set the record straight. To wit:

“Evil incarnate Islamic extremists don’t have any proxy votes in America’s presidential election. Not one. And while President Bush and I have serious differences over the occupation of Iraq and America’s global standing, there is agreement on a fundamental principle. The United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and we remain at war with the perpetrators — al-Qaeda in its myriad nationalities and nefarious tentacles. The next president of the United States will remain committed to its liquidation by pro-actively working with our allies around the world.

“As Madrid has shown, the malevolent will sometimes ‘win’ a cowardly battle against the unarmed and innocent, but they cannot win a war; certainly not this one. We will not permit it. Neither President Bush nor President Kerry. We both know the legacy of Munich.

“Moreover, I’m announcing that former NATO Commander-in-Chief Wesley Clark as my vice presidential running mate. He also has his differences with the president — but they do NOT include rooting out terrorism and defending this country against its declared enemies. Of course, putting a former general on the ticket is a symbol — a damn serious one.”

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