Kerry needs to talk about Iraq

September 14th, 2004 – 9:21 pm
Tagged as: Uncategorized

While the Bush administration tries to pretend that the situation in Iraq is somehow moving toward some sort of stability, the truth is that things there are just getting worse and worse. Over the weekend there were, by one estimate, 110 dead and 200 wounded, including those who died when an Apache gunship fired on a crowd on Haifa Street in Baghdad. Then today, 47 more people were killed in a car bomb attack outside a police station in Baghdad. If stability can’t even be maintained in the capital, what hope is there for the rest of the country?

That’s why Paul Krugman (and many others) have said that John Kerry should take Bush to task for the many failures in Iraq.

Can Mr. Kerry, who voted to authorize the Iraq war, criticize it? Yes, by pointing out that he voted only to give Mr. Bush a big stick. Once that stick had forced Saddam to let W.M.D. inspectors back in, there was no need to invade. And Mr. Kerry should keep pounding Mr. Cheney, who is trying to cover for the absence of W.M.D. by lying, yet again, about Saddam’s ties to Al Qaeda.

Some pundits are demanding that Mr. Kerry produce a specific plan for Iraq – a demand they never make of Mr. Bush. Mr. Kerry should turn the tables, and demand to know what – aside from pretending that things are going fine – Mr. Bush intends to do about the spiraling disaster. And Mr. Kerry can ask why anyone should trust a leader who refuses to replace the people who created that disaster because he thinks it’s bad politics to admit a mistake.

Mr. Kerry can argue that he wouldn’t have overruled the commanders who had wanted to keep the pressure on Al Qaeda, or dismissed warnings from former Gen. Eric Shinseki, then the Army’s chief of staff, that peacekeeping would require a large force. He wouldn’t have ignored General Conway’s warnings about the dangers of storming into Falluja, or overruled his protests about calling off that assault halfway through.

On the other hand, he can argue that he would have fired Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary who ridiculed General Shinseki. And he would definitely have fired Donald Rumsfeld for the failure to go in with enough troops, the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and more.

The truth is that Mr. Bush, by politicizing the “war on terror,” is putting America at risk. And Mr. Kerry has to say that.

I agree completely. By letting what is likely the biggest failure of the Bush administration go almost unchallenged, and therefore letting Bush play at being the defender of America, Kerry is just giving away votes. People need to understand that Bush’s actions in Iraq have had tragic consequences for both Iraqis and Americans, and that his policies there have been an unmitigated disaster.

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