Jewish World Review Sept. 21, 2004 / 6 Tishrei, 5765
Just A Few More Questions, Sen. Kerry
I am gratified that John Kerry has finally decided to bring his campaign into the present millennium and focus on Iraq. Now, let's have a genuine discussion about that issue.
Based on his speech in New York on Monday, it's obvious that Kerry wants to limit the discussion to President Bush's policies on Iraq, leaving his own mindless meandering on the matter out of the equation.
Sorry, but that just won't get it. In order to evaluate the issue of the Iraq War for purposes of the presidential race, we need to know what Kerry would do there (beyond his generalized four point plan) and what he would have done there.
With that in mind, I'd like to see the media ask Kerry a few questions about his Iraq policy. Of course, that would require Kerry to come out of hiding and submit to a real interview with real questions. Here are just a few, multi-part, somewhat complex questions to satisfy Kerry's signature fondness for complexity.
Senator, in the finest moment of eloquence in your career at least in your mind you asked, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die (in Vietnam) for a mistake?" To refresh your memory, Senator, you were urging that the United States withdraw from Vietnam posthaste because we were engaged in an illegal, immoral war. You have never retreated from that statement and continue to wear it as a badge of honor. Unlike your medals or was it ribbons? you will never throw this one away.
In your New York speech, sporting the same antiwar mindset you proudly wore in 1971, you essentially pronounced America's military action against Iraq a mistake. You said we should "begin to withdraw U.S. forces starting next summer and realistically aim to bring all our troops home within the next four years." Which brings me to my first question.
If our military action against Iraq was and is a mistake, Senator, how do you ask a man to be the last man to die (in Iraq) for a mistake? Why not withdraw our troops in four months? Better yet, four weeks? Four days? Four hours?
Next, Senator, let's take you at your word as utterly unbelievable as it is that in 2002 you voted to give President Bush authority to attack Iraq with the understanding that you must have divined from some powerful '60s tea leaves that he would not attack until he'd satisfied a number of conditions. One of those conditions was that the president would continue to grovel at the defiant feet of Saddam Hussein and ask him countless more times to please quit being so mean to the U.N. weapons inspectors.
Another was that the president would agree to play "Mother may I?" with France, Germany and Russia until they stopped being on the take in the U.N. "Oil for Food" scandal. Yet another was that President Bush, before initiating "shock and awe" would devise a failsafe plan for "winning the peace." Apparently what this meant was that the president, with a clairvoyance usually reserved to G-d himself, should have been able to devise a military course of action that would not only rout Saddam Hussein in short order, but would guarantee there would be no insurgent and terrorist resistance. I suppose it also meant that this plan should have ensured that we would not sustain 1,000 casualties, given the seemingly magical significance of that number.
But wait. You raised something else in your speech not for the first time beyond the pre-war conditions. You also invoked your next favorite line of attack (or should I say "excuse?"): that you voted to give the president authority to attack Iraq primarily to arm him with leverage to carry out a meaningful threat against Saddam.
Taking you at your word (an extremely charitable gesture, I might note) that you only voted for the Iraq war resolution based on your list of conditions and to give the president bargaining power against Saddam, I have another question.
If Iraq did not constitute a significant threat to the United States and did not have ties to Al Qaeda, Senator, as you also said in your speech, then precisely what did you think the president should threaten Saddam about? And if indeed Saddam was no threat, why did you insist on imposing all those meaningless pre-war conditions on the president? If, as you say, the war was a mistake, there is no purpose in those pre-war conditions or threats.
Correction. There is a purpose: to provide you cover for your many irreconcilable positions on this war.
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