Kerry promises sound judgment

In an ever-changing world, the challenger shows his strength with flexibility and candor.

In the presidential election’s first debate Thursday night, focusing on foreign policy and homeland security, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry proved he has the wisdom and thoughtfulness to lead the United States.

Kerry emphasized a multinational approach to solving problems in the Middle East, including bringing foreign leaders together for a summit to discuss a more international plan for Iraq. He criticized President George W. Bush’s rejection of U.N. resources to help with the war and repeated the need to reach out to other nations that have a stake in Iraqi democracy.

As Bush does, Kerry rightly realizes the economic and social impacts a free Iraq will have on political situations in the region – such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the possibility of nuclear proliferation in Iran – but Kerry wants to bring all interested parties to the table.

Along the same lines, Kerry’s assessment of nuclear proliferation as the single-most important threat facing the United States – particularly that in North Korea – is a critical part of his plan for homeland security.

The Bush administration discarded the Clintonian reward-driven policy, instead taking a harder line. Thereafter, talks with North Korea broke down. While Bush has brought several other nations together in negotiations, he has cut President Kim Jong Il completely out of the discussion.

While North Korea has a long, sordid history of despicable human-rights conditions and openly supports the black-market arms trade by selling to the highest bidder – including terrorist groups – ignoring North Korea’s newly gained nuclear capabilities will not solve the proliferation problem. Kerry’s plan to reopen bilateral talks with North Korea while keeping an economically interested China in the loop will put a lot more pressure on Kim Jong Il than allowing him to continue unchecked.

The president has refused to change his positions no matter what events transpire in Iraq and North Korea. His stubbornness is unfortunate, because while Kerry has been accused of flip-flopping, he continues to take new information into account as he makes his decisions. Kerry’s flexibility, given today’s complicated and changing world, would be a benefit in the current international climate of drastic political change and ever-emerging threats to our country.