General Approach

October 03, 2004


GEORGE BUSH: Sees a global threat from terrorist groups and nations that harbor, arm or support them, raising the specter of rogue states supplying chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to extremists. Calls Iraq the "central front" where terrorists must be defeated to avoid attacks in the United States. Cemented ties with Pakistan to gain aid in hunting al-Qaida and allied groups. Pledging to improve intelligence- gathering, endorsed the idea of a national director of intelligence, but with less power than some have urged. Claims improved anti-terror cooperation from Saudi Arabia.

JOHN KERRY: Willing to use force to destroy terror groups and capture leaders. Pledges to bolster intelligencegathering, breaking down barriers between intelligence and law-enforcement, and hire more Arabic translators. Would target terror financiers with a "name and shame" campaign. Threatens to block money-laundering countries and banks from using the U.S. financial system. Would encourage improved education, independent media and unions in Arab countries. Would develop alternative fuels and gasoline-free cars to cut dependence on Mideast oil.


GEORGE BUSH: Backs strong military action to defeat insurgency and seeks a democratic, federal Iraq - a model of reform for the region. Offers no pullout date for U.S. forces, but pushes training of Iraqis. Helped pick an interim leadership composed partly of anti-Saddam Hussein exiles. Seeks to prevent allied forces from leaving the coalition. Presses other nations to help Iraq rebuild and forgive its debts. Administration acknowledges insurgency is "getting worse," with fighting likely to continue through elections.

JOHN KERRY: Warns of a war "with no end in sight." Calls for a summit to mobilize allied support. Would compensate other countries with reconstruction contracts and a stake in Iraqi oil development. Would expand Iraqi military training, using centers in NATO countries. Calls on Bush to recruit a protection force so the U.N. can send in election experts. U.S. troops could begin returning home next summer, he says, if such steps are taken.


GEORGE BUSH: Angered West Europeans by pulling out of Kyoto environmental treaty and international criminal court; broke with France and Germany over Iraq; bitterness lingers, but both cooperate with United States in Afghanistan, battling terror and halting weapons proliferation. Retains strong support from Britain, Italy and former Warsaw Pact nations. Won unspecified but "substantial" pledges of debt relief for Iraq. Rarely criticizes Saudi Arabia in public; praises kingdom's anti-terror efforts.

JOHN KERRY: Denounces Bush for "shredding" historic ties; pledges "new era of alliances" that would be a foundation for a range of initiatives stabilizing Iraq and fighting terror. Pledges to make early visits to the United Nations and overseas to announce that the United States "has rejoined the community of nations." Repeatedly denounces Saudi Arabia as a source of extremism and terrorist money.


GEORGE BUSH: Views President Vladimir Putin as a partner against terrorism and rarely faults harsh Russian tactics in Chechnya. Recently expressed worry that Putin is backsliding on democracy. Negotiated a deal to scrap the Cold War-era anti-ballistic missile treaty blocking U.S. development of a missile shield.

JOHN KERRY: Blames Bush for "taking his eye off the ball" of advancing democracy in Russia. Criticizes Putin for moves that limit freedoms and centralize power. Urges Russia to respect rights of all citizens, "including those in Chechnya."


GEORGE BUSH: Halted U.S. contact with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat; avoids intense mediation of conflict until a reformed Palestinian leadership emerges, committed to fight terror aimed at Israel. Was the first U.S. president to speak at the U.N. in favor of a state called "Palestine," an important symbolic gesture. Called Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a "man of peace," broadly backs his tough anti-terror tactics, including targeted killings, and says Israel won't have to return to its pre-1967 size. Supports the concept of a separation barrier provided it doesn't prejudge eventual borders. Sees hope in Sharon's Gaza withdrawal plan. Has let Israeli-Syria peace process lapse.

JOHN KERRY: Faults Bush for being "disengaged" from peace process and pledges active diplomacy led by an appointee "at the highest level." Generally supports Bush's pro- Israel policies: Calls Arafat an unfit peace partner, backs Sharon's tough anti-terror tactics and Gaza withdrawal plan; changed his mind on the separation barrier, now sees it as a legitimate form of self-defense.


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