September 26, 2004

Flip-flop untrue, press agrees

From Knight-Ridder's Washington Bureau:

"I have one position on Iraq," Kerry insisted this week during a rare news conference. "One position."

In fact, he's right, his image as a "flip-flopper" notwithstanding.

Kerry voted in October 2002 for the congressional resolution that authorized President Bush to go to war in Iraq. He now says that the invasion was not justified and has made the United States less secure.

These positions are not contradictory, but his attempts to explain the distinction between them are often complicated, and they have given President Bush an opening to caricature Kerry as a flip-flopper. However, beneath the torrent of campaign verbiage, Kerry's position on Iraq for the past two years has been consistent and defensible - just difficult to sell in a sound-bite world.

Kerry always called for a broad international coalition to confront Saddam Hussein, and going to war only as a last resort. Like most senators, he thought Bush needed the authority - it passed the Senate 77-23, and Kerry was one of 29 Democrats who supported it.

But once Bush got the authority, Kerry believes, he misused it.

So do I.

When arguing for the authorization Bush said he needed the leverage to get the UN to do something. He did not say he intended to go to war. We now know that the Administration's argument was a lie.

Within hours of the WTC and Pentagon attacks Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld were arguing that Iraq was behind it and should be attacked. Very few if any members of Congress believed that, from what we can tell. But there was a consensus that the sanctions against Iraq weren't working any longer, and there were persistent outcries from humanitarian groups saying the only ones being hurt by those sanctions were Iraqi civilians. So Congress authorized the President to threaten war as a last resort, hoping the leverage provided would be sufficient; it might well have been.

The inspectors didn't leave because they felt their job had been completed; they were basically forced out by the Administration, which said it intended to use force and the safety of Hans Blix and his teams could not be guaranteed. President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld all urgently wanted to go to war. They've cited multiple purposes for doing so, but the big three were these: 1) to eliminate Saddam's weapons of mass destruction (WMD); (2) to diminish the threat of international terrorism; and (3) to promote democracy in Iraq and surrounding areas.

We now know that there were no WMD. We know that Iraq had no cooperative ties to al-Qaeda. And we certainly know that our actions in Iraq have not promoted democracy anywhere else (including the United States; when a woman whose son was killed in Iraq is arrested for protesting at a Bush event, that's hardly a demonstration of democracy in action).

In Zola's phrase, J'accuse.

Posted by Linkmeister at September 26, 2004 04:23 PM