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Old 10-04-2004, 08:16 PM   #1
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Kerry's Shaky Take on the War

By Max Boot

Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2004


Now that he's decided to close the campaign as Howard-Dean-with-a-Silver-Star, John Kerry is claiming that the war he voted to authorize in Iraq is a "profound diversion" from the things that really matter -- Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, even an alleged lack of firehouses in the United States. The implication is that if only we hadn't gotten involved in Iraq, the rest of the world would be in much better shape. This is a highly debatable proposition, and it is an area where President Bush should try to pin down his slippery adversary.

Part of what Kerry says is sheer demagoguery. He castigates Bush for spending $200 billion (actually $130 billion, but who's counting?) in Iraq and not spending it at home for schools, healthcare, firefighters and no doubt free treats for good little girls and boys. Yet in the next breath, Kerry attacks Bush for being profligate, period. Which is it? Is Bush spending too much or too little? It's hard to believe Kerry is serious in any case; this is merely pandering to leftist isolationism.

Kerry is on firmer ground when he suggests that Bush has allowed "the urgent nuclear dangers in North Korea and Iran ... to mount on his presidential watch." True, and if one advocated a get-tough policy with Pyongyang and Tehran, the fact that 130,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq might be an impediment. (Or they might help boost the pressure on next-door Iran.) But Kerry doesn't advocate such a policy. He wants to sign a generous deal that would pay these rogue states not to produce nukes. Appeasement hardly requires military muscle.

What of Kerry's claim that Bush was so focused on Iraq that he let Al Qaeda run wild? Actually, two-thirds of Al Qaeda's senior leadership has been caught or killed. And the U.S. is getting more cooperation in fighting terrorism now than it did before 9/11, even from states that aren't fans of the Iraq war. Look at the big roundups of Al Qaeda suspects recently in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. As French Arabist Gilles Kepel argues in a new book, the jihadists are losing their war to gain control of the Muslim world.

It's true that Osama bin Laden hasn't been caught, but it's far from clear that this is due to a lack of trying. NATO forces have been searching Bosnia for war crimes suspects Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic since 1995 and still haven't found them. For that matter, Eric Rudolph, the prime suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, was arrested only last year -- and he was hiding on U.S. soil. Kerry is on really weak ground when he suggests that Bush's focus on Iraq has worsened the situation in Afghanistan. This may have seemed plausible amid the gloom-and-doom reporting of a year or two ago, but recent news is largely positive.

Though Human Rights Watch this week warned of continuing violence and instability, this hasn't stopped millions of Afghans from registering to vote in the Oct. 9 elections. President Hamid Karzai has sidelined two noxious warlords, Ismail Khan and Muhammed Qassim Fahim. The Afghan army is growing in size and effectiveness. NATO troops are patrolling Kabul and expanding into the provinces. In an Asia Foundation poll, two-thirds of Afghans said the country was moving in the right direction.

All this progress may be occurring not despite our troubles in Iraq but because of them. If jihadists weren't attacking U.S. forces in Iraq they would probably be throwing more energy into attacking them in Afghanistan.

Also, if the U.S. didn't have all those troops in Iraq, it would be tempted to send more than the present commitment of 18,000 soldiers to Afghanistan. A greater U.S. presence could help fuel a nationalist backlash and result in greater casualties, as has occurred in parts of Iraq. The Bush administration may have stumbled onto the best strategy for Afghanistan -- a low-key, long-term commitment that relies primarily on building indigenous security forces rather than supplying them ourselves.

In a way, of course, all this is beside the point. Whether or not Iraq was central to the war on terrorism before the U.S.-led invasion -- a point on which reasonable people can differ -- there is no question that it is central today. British Prime Minister Tony Blair (a non-veteran with more political courage in his pinkie than Kerry has in his whole body) puts it well: "I can understand why people still have a powerful disagreement about the original decision to go to war, but whatever that disagreement, surely now it is absolutely clear we have to stay and see it through. Because the consequence of not doing so is that global terrorism will get a tremendous boost." Bush understands that. Does Kerry?


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

http://www.cfr.org/pub7411/max_boot/...on_the_war.php
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Old 10-04-2004, 08:35 PM   #2
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British Prime Minister Tony Blair (a non-veteran with more political courage in his pinkie than Kerry has in his whole body) puts it well: "I can understand why people still have a powerful disagreement about the original decision to go to war, but whatever that disagreement, surely now it is absolutely clear we have to stay and see it through.

So Blair concedes Kerry point.

Wrong war, wrong time, etc.

We must support the troops and win this thing.
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Old 10-04-2004, 10:53 PM   #3
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Originally posted by deep



So Blair concedes Kerry point.

Wrong war, wrong time, etc.

We must support the troops and win this thing.
He said he understood their arguement, not that he agrees with it.

Wrong War, Wrong Time etc.? Why didn't Kerry say that on March 19, 2003? Kerry voted against the removal of Saddam's military from Kuwait back in 1991. Now, he is unable to decide whether he is for operation Iraqi Freedom or against it, nearly 2 years after he voted for the operation. His true feelings on the matter seem to be irrelevant. What is relevant to him, is which position will bring him the most votes. He benefits most when potential supporters feel he supports their position either for or against the war.
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Old 10-04-2004, 10:55 PM   #4
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Considering Kerry giving his full support for the same war in 1998 perhaps is right when he says that 2003 was the wrong time.

NO WAR!! - unless a democrat is president.
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Old 10-05-2004, 01:23 AM   #5
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from my point of view it was simply the wrong time.
They should have finished it the last time (Mr. Bush senior) - in our days there were more urgent problems which weren't adressed because the worldwide focus was on Iraq (for example North Korea, Pakistan<>India, Israel<>Palestine and Iran)
Since no president (not even Mr. W. ) can't do everything he wants at the same time i'd say wrong time, wrong war
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Old 10-05-2004, 02:17 AM   #6
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People were dying, if the inspectors found nothing then the sanctions would have been lifted and the regime would restart the WMD programs. There is never a bad reason to get rid of a thug regime, if the oppertunity presents itself it must be taken. The postwar situation and the casualties are so low I would stand firmly by such a decision.

I would say that the Israel / "Palestine" situation is being resolved unilaterally. Targeted asssasinations and security barriers have done more for peace than decades of tollerating terrorism by the PA.

The US is heavily involved in all the issues, the difference is that it is not reported (think about how much news comes out of Afghanistan - and the elections are being held there very soon).
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Old 10-05-2004, 03:00 AM   #7
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"if the inspectors found nothing then the sanctions would have been lifted"

Well i don't know if the inspectors could have found anything - maybee there were WMDs which were sold to the terrorists in the chaos of the war - i really don't hope so, but it's possible.

"I would say that the Israel / "Palestine" situation is being resolved unilaterally. "

I don't think you can call it unilitarally. Israel is dependend on US military aid. If you give em weapons you should take a closer look what they doo with these weapons.
I think the US and the EU should try to arbitrate between the two parties because on both sides there are leaders who profit from the current situation. because of that their personal will for peace is ... well questionable.

"I would say that the Israel / "Palestine" situation is being resolved unilaterally. Targeted asssasinations and security barriers have done more for peace than decades of tollerating terrorism by the PA."

I don't like it that people are killed (which means to be sentenced to death) without a trial.
I don't trust the Israeli government - i don't trust ANY government or military so much that i think they it is acceptable to skip the part with courts and judges.
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Old 10-05-2004, 09:23 AM   #8
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I feel like kerry has thrown a cluster bomb on this issue.

On the one hand wrong war wrong time.
On the other hand, wrong war, fought incorrectly
On the other hand, we cannot fail, I can do it batter.

Its like three records thrown into one.
----------------------

He has YET to explain:

How he could NOT support the Gulf War when practically the rest of the world did.

How he could possibly have supported Clinton in 1998 yet not the Gulf War.

How he can reconcile supporting this president with his intial vote, but then NOT fund the 86 Billion?


And BUSH did NOT Hammer him during the debate on this. I cannot believe how badly he missed his opportunities. If I were voting based on wanting a debator for President it was a no contest.
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Old 10-05-2004, 10:07 AM   #9
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i think if Kerry landed in Normandy on D-Day he woulda turned around saying that this military exercise was not thought out the proper way and twasn't senistively strategtic enough in his estimation.

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Old 10-06-2004, 07:24 AM   #10
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Originally posted by A_Wanderer
People were dying... There is never a bad reason to get rid of a thug regime, if the oppertunity presents itself it must be taken.
i assume then that you are massing the troops for an all out assault on most of the non-western world, including DPRK, China, et al. good luck.

Quote:
I would say that the Israel / "Palestine" situation is being resolved unilaterally. Targeted asssasinations and security barriers have done more for peace than decades of tollerating terrorism by the PA.
ah yes, the most entertaining paradigm of the neocon dream:
state terrorism = good; wacky islamic terrorism = bad.

i thought it was common knowledge that kerry didn't vote for the $80 billion bill because he didn't want to hand the president a blank check for which there was no money set aside at the bank. you can't fight a war in iraq and a war on taxes(or any other social issue), LBJ found that out (great society/vietnam). it's nice that W wants to protect me but i don't appreciate him charging it to my credit card.
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Old 10-06-2004, 07:38 AM   #11
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Will we have to study to take Kerry's global test??
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Old 10-06-2004, 08:06 AM   #12
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This is obviously not what Kerry meant.

What he meant is that if the United States should have to take pre-emptive action, he would do it. But he would want to be certain that he could explain exactly why the action had to be taken and be able to present evidence to back it up. That way, if any questions were asked about the attack ex post facto, there would be sufficient evidence for the necessity of an immediate and decisive attack. We certainly can expect that should we be facing a grave and immediate threat, our President will take action. What we cannot, and should not, expect is that we will be able to act with impunity.

This is what he meant by a global test: "global" not only in the sense of the geopolitical globe, but "global" as well in the sense of complete, coherent, totality. Our foreign neighbors have every right to ask questions in the event of a pre-emptive attack, and what Kerry would want to ensure is that we have true, evinced answers for those questions. This will make us look better and stronger, not weaker and worse, in the eyes of the world. When we have strong, complete evidence to back up what we do, it is more likely that the rest of the world will back us up should we need or want that backup (which, in the event of [G-d forbid] another 9/11 or similar, we will certainly need and want).
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Old 10-06-2004, 08:18 AM   #13
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Does Kerry know what he meant?

Perhaps you should run with Edwards...!
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Old 10-06-2004, 12:06 PM   #14
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I'd love to run with Edwards...or walk...or dance...
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Old 10-06-2004, 06:01 PM   #15
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Originally posted by paxetaurora


This is obviously not what Kerry meant.

What he meant is that if the United States should have to take pre-emptive action, he would do it. But he would want to be certain that he could explain exactly why the action had to be taken and be able to present evidence to back it up. That way, if any questions were asked about the attack ex post facto, there would be sufficient evidence for the necessity of an immediate and decisive attack. We certainly can expect that should we be facing a grave and immediate threat, our President will take action. What we cannot, and should not, expect is that we will be able to act with impunity.

This is what he meant by a global test: "global" not only in the sense of the geopolitical globe, but "global" as well in the sense of complete, coherent, totality. Our foreign neighbors have every right to ask questions in the event of a pre-emptive attack, and what Kerry would want to ensure is that we have true, evinced answers for those questions. This will make us look better and stronger, not weaker and worse, in the eyes of the world. When we have strong, complete evidence to back up what we do, it is more likely that the rest of the world will back us up should we need or want that backup (which, in the event of [G-d forbid] another 9/11 or similar, we will certainly need and want).
...and once Kerry had done these things, he voted for Bush's plan to handle Saddam.
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