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International Interests of the Candidates

All opinion polls show that the nation's safety, including the war in Iraq and terrorism, remains the primary concern of voters.

It seems appropriate, then, to revisit the positions of Sen. John Kerry (search) and President George Bush (search) when it comes to the use of force in an increasingly hostile world.

President Bush has said he believes in using allies and even the U.N. to fight the evil intentions of groups and nations that seek our destruction and reject our way of life. In his rhetoric and action he sought to build alliances and coalitions. Some joined. Others did not.

But he thinks the United States is unique in the world and sometimes must act unilaterally in order to protect its own interests and the interests of those who will not act, but who benefit from freedom.

Senator Kerry's position was underscored in a Washington Post story this week. Reporters Helen Dewar and Thomas Ricks wrote, "Kerry's belief in working with allies runs so deep that he has maintained that the loss of American life can be better justified if it occurs in the course of a mission with international support. In 1994, discussing the possibility of U.S. troops being killed in Bosnia, he said, 'If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no.'"

This says to me that one candidate would take the views of others into consideration before acting, but realizes no one cares more about America than America and that we have unique interests in the world.

The other candidate seems to be saying that he puts the views of others, including the pathetic and toothless United Nations ahead of our own interests.

How else can you interpret such a statement? In a little more than a week voters will decide whether our enemies can be pacified with nice talk, or whether they must be defeated by decisive action. A lot is riding on how they answer.

And that's Column One for this week.

To check out more Column One features, click here.

What do you think? Send your responses to: afterhours@foxnews.com.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.

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