Kerry Was Right


That's George F. Will's conclusion today:

Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry's belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."

Military force is still essential, although it can sometimes be more powerful withheld as a deterrent than unleashed in an asymmetrical war. Few also doubt that democratic reform would help the Middle East in the long-term. In the short-term, however, it might be terribly dangerous, as the increasingly popular Hamas and Hezbollah regimes in the West Bank and Lebanon are proving. But what has struck me in the last year or so, as someone who has always supported democratization as one tool to defang Islamism, is whence many of these religious fanatics are coming. Many of the most lethal Islamist agents of terror have been coming from democratic societies, like Britain. Many are middle-class or even aristocrats, like bin Laden. If the real root causes are in the fundamentalist psyche, then police-work and internal religious reformation are indeed our most effective weapons. I regret my decision to ditch Bush in '04, despite my extreme distaste for John Kerry, with less and less regret.

(Photo: Charlie Niebergall/AP.)