September 23, 2004

Allawi's Speech

Wow. Strong speech. Advantage Allawi (and Bush).

Kerry looks, er, very small today. I mean, was this statement for real? In its discombobulation, utter lack of grace (all but calling Allawi a liar--a man almost axed to death by Saddam's henchmen in the U.K. and under constant threat of assassination today), near absurdities ("Let me tell you, if the 4th Infantry Division and the diplomacy had been done (ed. note: whatever "done" means) with Turkey, you wouldn't have had a Fallujah"), pleading tone ("And ask the military leaders. Go ask the military leaders")--it reads more like a bona fide Deanian (or Goreian?) meltdown than a serious policy statement/press conference.

And am I the only one concerned that Kerry opened his remarks by proclaiming: "I want victory. I want to win." Er, shouldn't that go without saying? Why does a candidate for the U.S. Presidency even need to say that? How very odd. Of course, if he is serious about us winning--he should instead act like a statesman, head to Washington, and assure the new Iraq PM that there is a bipartisan consensus to support Iraq during its perilous path towards democracy whoever wins in November.

But no. Instead, a sour, rambling statement from the sidelines. As I said, small. Very small. I'm tempted to say he needs new advisors--but he's already gone through quite a few batches. At some point, the buck stops with the principal, no?

More on the Allawi speech and Kerry's remarks hopefully later tonight London time.

UPDATE: Heh. Matt Yglesias has a slightly different take (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). Needless to say, I guess, I think Matt's being a tad generous to Mr. Kerry. Or maybe, as one of B.D.'s smartest commenters (who runs an erudite left-of-center blog) contends--I'm being unfair to the Senator.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I just got off a special dial-in teleconference to hear Iyad Allawi speaking at the CFR (I trust it's on the record as the Council's main webpage mentions it is to be broadcast live on C-SPAN). Someone in the audience pointedly asked Allawi about Kerry's comments that I blog above--ie, that Allawi was in heavy-spin mode to give Bush political cover. Allawi responded: "I'm a tool of nobody." And then something about not getting involved in the internal politics of the U.S., that it's "none of our business."

He's better at all of this than Kerry, isn't he? And, apparently, more gracious too.

Posted by Gregory at September 23, 2004 09:09 PM
Comments

Gregory,

You said:

"And am I the only one concerned that Kerry opened his remarks by proclaiming: "I want victory. I want to win." Er, shouldn't that be assumed? Why does a candidate for the U.S. Presidency feel compelled to state that?"

Isn't that a bit unfair? For months conservative and right wing pundits (including yourself on numerous occasions) have been suggesting that Kerry does not want to win, that he would rather leave immediately. That he comes out and addresses the accusations should not be cause for concern or further innuendo.

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 23, 2004 09:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eric,

Kerry wouldn't have to state it if the reasoning and supporting ideas that he gave didn't totally belie it. I'm sorry, I'm a California Democrat that supports this war and Kerry's comments to Allawi today were shockingly defeatist. Here is a man who is trying to rally a lot of scared and decent Iraqi's towards democracy (ie elections) in the midst of a minority of nihilistic fascists with lots of money and weapons and the potential leader of the free world told them not to get their hopes up. Good heavens, Allawi himself said that it would be a difficult task, yet he was confident that freedom and Iraq would prevail against its enemies. I wonder who sounds more like JFK now, Kerry or Allawi? I agree that Kerry wants to win, I just don't think he knows HOW to win. You don't win this fight by flinching when the other side is trying to derail you. And you definitely don't win by trying to distill the hopes of those that are trying their hardest to hold on to the dream of freedom.

Posted by: doug at September 23, 2004 11:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As I said below (sorry to repeat myself) Prime Minister Allawi's speech rocked my world.

Yes, I know, if an American citizen's entire outlook on a U.S. Presidential election can be suddenly turned upside down by a single speech given by a single foreign leader, then that American is probably nuts.

So I'm probably nuts.

President Bush has made some terrible mistakes, and he has some terrible policies, in my opinion. (Cutting taxes in the middle of a world war comes to mind.) But can I really trust Mr. Kerry, especially after his comments today, to give Prime Minister Allawi the support he deserves?

Posted by: Arjun at September 23, 2004 11:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kerry is much more interested in a Kerry victory in November than the freedom of the Iraqi people. He seems to hold the Iraqis in the same contempt that he held for the Vietnamese people....and American soldiers 30 years ago. They just don't matter compared to Kerry's need for power.

Kerry's desperation to be President is frightening. His willingness to say anything, betray anything to get elected should worry any reasonable person. Kerry is devoid of convictions, principles and character.

Posted by: lugh lampfhota at September 23, 2004 11:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory,

I am truly grateful for your praise, although erudite is a word I'm not sure I deserve. Coming from you, it is doubly flattering. I also appreciate the left of center label. You could have said worse. But I digress.

I think the issue Kerry's comments raise is a question of style. Is it better for leaders to gloss over reality, or tell it like it is?

The positive take on Kerry's comments is that he is being honest, and that people will respond to that honesty and assume that because he is clear eyed about the problems, he will not hesitate to address them.

To the degree that the Iraqi people are paying attention to Kerry, how will this play? That depends. Do you think they are encouraged by Bush's exuberant optimism as bombs go off, ethnic tensions simmer, and conflict rages in various parts of the country? Maybe.

But maybe there would be as many that would welcome the realism of Kerry, and feel that he understands the situation better. Maybe it is better to tell them, and the American people, of the realities in a Churchillian "Blood, sweat and tears" fashion.

As for his discussions of removing troops, I think what he really said was replacing them. That seems more like a campaign promise that will be hard to fulfill, than a promise he will uphold (ala Nixon's plan for peace).

As for his contempt for the Vietnamese people, I'm not so sure. It depends on which you speak to. The millions dead probably wouldn't think it contempt, if they could speak. But clearly some South Vietnamese would have rather America remained indefinitely, as that is what it would have likely taken.

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 23, 2004 11:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm in favor of a "more sensitive war on terror". That's one of the many reasons I'd been planning on voting for Mr. Kerry.

However, Mr. Kerry's undiplomatic statements vis-a-vis the steadfast U.S. allies whose brave soldiers form a terrific tenth of the multinational forces in Iraq, and vis-a-vis the steadfast interim Prime Minister of Iraq (who didn't tell the truth today -- but honesty is overrated), reveal a troubling lack of "sensitivity".

Who does John Kerry think he is? Donald Rumsfeld?

Posted by: Arjun at September 23, 2004 11:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arjun,

I think he could have been a bit more adroit in his wording too, and Gregory's suggestion that he make an overture to Allawi of continued support no matter the outcome in November would have been better and more statesmanlike.

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 24, 2004 12:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

re: "done w/ Turkey"

This means paying whatever price they asked, both political and monetary. You think Mr. Bush is spending a lot in treasure and lives?? Heh. Put the dems in charge of a war. France etc., were demanding a 2-3x guarantee of their corrupt business deals already in place w/ Saddam. All we needed to do was match their price. Call it sacrificing Israel and a trillion dollars over 10 years spread between the "coalition of the bought" - which would still fail to excise the cancer of terror fomented wmd-attacks world-wide. Munich redux guaranteed.

Posted by: Ari Tai at September 24, 2004 12:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm not sure everything that you suggest goes without saying. After all, the president was the one to suggest that the "war on terror" was not winnable (of course, you can chalk that up to just not being very articulate or nuanced I suppose).

I tend to agree with a previous poster that Kerry, no thanks to the President, does have to make it clear what his goals are, even if it's something that should be as unambiguous and obvious as "winning". Moreover, I'm not sure that winning is even "obvious". What does winning mean? What type of measures of victory are we using? President Bush's "major combat is over" type criteria or something more substantive?

All of this nuance is probably asking too much for a political candidate when he gets called names for trying to take a nuanced position on the war (one that I think is actually very defensible: 'authorizing the President to use force does not mean that he should have').

Likewise, President Bush's and "Prime Minister" Allawi's assertions that things are going well just work to undermine any rational discussion that the situation isn't so black or white. Why can't it simply be, "we've made terrible mistakes, and we're working to improve the situation and work with those that feel disenfranchised"?

From most of the media coverage, it would seem that supporters of Bush don't have ANY feel for nuance, and likewise for many many extreme supporters of the "anti-bush" platform.

Posted by: bleh at September 24, 2004 12:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Many of those commenting on this website believe that the U.S. is at war with Islam.

As a pro-American and pro-Muslim U.S. citizen, I profoundly disagree, and what better evidence than Prime Minister Allawi's speech?

Prime Minister Allawi, who is Muslim, said that his government is battling violent advocates of "a perverted interpretation of Islam, in which the face of Allah cannot be seen." Prime Minister Allawi said that Iraqis believe in tolerance precisely because they are mostly Muslims. Prime Minister Allawi said that Islam is compatible with freedom and democracy.

Add to these statements the fact that our evil enemies in Iraq have attacked the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf during Friday prayers (killing Ayatollah al-Hakim and scores of Muslim worshippers), and the Ashoura march in Karbala (killing scores of Muslim pilgrims), and the Eid celebrations in Sulaimaniya (killing scores of Muslim celebrants).

Our evil enemies outside of Iraq have killed innocent Muslims in Kenya, Tanzania, the United States, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, and Indonesia.

The U.S. is not an enemy of Islam. We are fighting to PRESERVE Islamic civilization from the evil proponents of Islamic UNcivilization.

Posted by: Arjun at September 24, 2004 12:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Although the following nitpicking point would be a dumb reason to vote against Mr. Kerry, while I admire Turkey (see Fareed Zakaria's latest column, with which I agree entirely), I'm glad that Turkish troops were not imposed on Iraq. The Iraqis said that they didn't want troops from any neighboring country in Iraq, and if we truly believed in Iraqi democracy, we should have been listening to what the Iraqis were saying, instead of shoving decisions down their throats.

(I mean, who does Mr. Kerry think he is? Paul Bremer?)

Posted by: Arjun at September 24, 2004 12:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kerry looked small and petty because he is small and petty.

He is the center of his own universe, his ambition being the only thing he thinks about.

Those who dismiss the hope that Iraq can after years of terror perhaps have a chance at democracy are racists.

Kerry isn't a racist or a supporter of true human rights either, that would require a thought outside himself and he isn't capable of that.

Posted by: Tim at September 24, 2004 12:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anyone who claims that Kerry is any sort of "diplomat" or "statesman" after today is going to have a world-class job of spinning ahead of them.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at September 24, 2004 12:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Off topic,
Glen your piece on the fall of Dan Rather was run in our National newspaper today.Yesterday the Sydney Morning Herald ran a great opinion on the pygamahadeen by Miranda Devine.It has taken this long for our MSM to pick up on this story.Better late than never.

Posted by: gubbaboy at September 24, 2004 01:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just a short note to the men and women of our armed services that are fighting for freedom. As sad as it is for the loss of one of our men and women in uniform, for every one of our guys killed by the bad guys, over 60 Iraqis pay with their life.

This is from a good friend of mine, a Lt. with the 1st Cav that just came home on leave from Bagdad this week. He was positive about what we are doing and would like to ring the neck of those on the left that seem to want us to fail and give up.

It is better to fight them there than in the streets of America.

MSgt Jim

Posted by: Jim From South Whidbey at September 24, 2004 01:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kerry was appalling! That was as graceless an act as I've seen since Pat Buchanon did his "No way, Jose!" routine in New mexico. Unfortunately, he will be more widely read that Pat. He's an embarrassment both to the country and to his party.

Posted by: yarnlady at September 24, 2004 01:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If Kerry is elected president, the prescription sales of antidepressants in the US will go through the roof! Kerry will be great for the pharmaceutical industry. Of course, sales of sleep inducers will fall off, due to the natural soporific effect of Kerry's speeches. Simply videotape one of Kerry's speeches and play it before bedtime every night!
But don't forget to take your antidepressant.

Posted by: Bunjun at September 24, 2004 01:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And to think Kerry was the electable candidate.

Posted by: Jeff Licquia at September 24, 2004 01:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"I want victory. I want to win."

I don't believe he was talking aout Iraq and much as it was some kind of freudian comment on the election. I've long held that the only thing Kerry believes in is his own political career. I don't believe in the same things that GWB does but it is reasuring to know he actually holds some thing I would recognize as beliefs.

Posted by: Stan at September 24, 2004 02:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yglesias: "Before the war, the president said that there were lots of terrorists causing the trouble; that's why we had to go to war. Just yesterday he says to the American people, now that we are at war, that there are only a handful of terrorists. And yet only two days earlier Prime Minister Allawi said, That's not true, thousands of terrorists are crossing the borders and entering into Iraq."

Yglesias sees this as proof of some dishonesy or disarray. But isn't, say, 10,000 men a number of terrorists which is:
1) Literally "thousands."
2) consistent with the number of attacks on us, if they are using their men at a fairly high rate of action (consistent with some desperation and/or their knowledge that they want to screw up things by January, if not November, for Iraqi or US elections).
3) a "handful" in any meaningful sense. That is, a number small enough to have no legitimate political meaning, and small enough to have no chance of defeating the US, or an Iraqi government soon, provided that defeatism or appeasement leads Iraqis to conclude that the US will choose to lose.

Posted by: akmdave at September 24, 2004 02:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oops, "leads" should be "dose not lead" as in:

"provided that defeatism or appeasement does not lead Iraqis to conclude that the US will choose to lose."

Posted by: akmdave at September 24, 2004 02:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arjun -

I don't think you're nuts, I appreciate your intellectual honesty. You seem to have had one of those "aha" moments. And your post about Islamic UNCivilization was very well put.

I don't know how much experience you've had in trying to bring a complex project, with many contentious people, to a successful conclusion, but it's definately harder than it appears from the sidelines. They always get it neatly wrapped up in one hour on Law and Order, but real life is a lot messier. A wise businessman of my acquantance said "Do your best to make the right decision, but once it's made, make it the right decision".

It's a given there is no way we can know all the details, including strategies that must remain hidden from our enemies, in what is happening in Iraq. All the kibitzing about woulda, shoulda, coulda is just uniformed. So it becomes a matter of trust. Having lived almost all my life next door to our friends in "Baja Oklahoma", and as a fellow Methodist, I can assure you that George W. Bush is the real deal. I trust him to bring us victory in Iraq, but I don't assume there haven't been and won't be mistakes along the way. The key question is, do we learn from our mistakes and take corrective action? With the Bush administration's prosecution of the war, I think the answer is yes.

Posted by: Jack Okie at September 24, 2004 02:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Some people like to toss the word "nuanced" out there when they really seem to mean it's something they can't explain or understand. The idea of victory in Iraq is not nuanced, it is very clear and not something that was ever going to happen in the course of a 30-minute sitcom.

Victory in Iraq means the Iraqi people control their government and security. It does not mean we say "victory" and abandon millions to disorder, chaos and murderous vermin, like we did in Vietnam.

There are a large number of people who persist in feeling that delaying and hampering that war and forcing our withdrawal somehow benefitted someone other than themselves vis-á-vis their egos. This same spirit seems to inform much of the most extreme opposition to the Iraqi campaign and demonstrates a marked willingness to, once again, ignore the hopes, dreams, suffering and death of brown people in order to fulfil their own misplaced sense of self importance.

Posted by: submandave at September 24, 2004 02:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

While it is the political season here at home, civility to a foreign leader is the least that the opposition party could have mustered. Prime Minister Allawi is a brave man, a target still in his own country who survived brutal Saddam-ordered attacks – axes, for goodness sakes – to return home and accept the leadership post of his nation in quite trying times. He’s of the rare type that heeds the call and strives to do the best for his countrymen against considerable odds. The commentators and newsies who seek to diminish his appearances are completely oblivious to the context that they should be reporting – this guy is truly a hero who is humbly asking for help for his nation.

What’s disturbing about Kerry’s remarks is how they were so much about him (“I laid out a plan,” “I have a plan...”) and so little about the Iraqis. He insulted Allawi when he could have been more nuanced, more generous to that man and others who are trying to make a go of it. Moreover, he seems to say that winning means getting the US out and others in. I infer that he means that winning has little to do with the Iraqis and more to do with getting US troops out of harm’s way. That’s a message that’s tough to sell: hey, you guys go in and do the hard stuff while we pull out and declare victory, okay?

(I also read his mention of Shinseki as highly political. Shinseki was the most political general officer in the most political branch of the military. As the Army’s service chief he was the guy that gave the incoming Rumsfeld the cold shoulder over military transformation; the other services signed up. He was the only service chief to fight against Tommy Franks’ plans for Afghanistan and Iraq. But the Clinton’s liked Shinseki, the designated senator from Hawaii when Inouye retires.)

Posted by: The Kid at September 24, 2004 03:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"K: Let me tell you, if the 4th Infantry Division and the diplomacy had been done with Turkey..."
Diplomacy was done with Turkey to allow us to stage through that country. Alas, France also used "diplomacy", telling Turkey that their request for defensive arms would be cancelled and they would not be allowed in the EU if they let the Coalition use Turkish bases.

"Q: Given the situation on the ground in Fallujah when there was an offensive there, when there was a rising civilian death toll, rising criticism among Arab media for our actions there, what would you have done differently?"
"K: ... I would have done almost everything differently. "
But is that an answer to the question? WHAT would he have done? Send in French troops?

Posted by: John Anderson at September 24, 2004 04:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Submandave is right. "Nuance" has value in academia, writing law, art, music, and dance - in a whole range of fields of human endeavor.

But, at bottom, nuance has so very little value in war. One is either winning or losing, on the offense or defense, living or dying. And we are at war. Oh, there might be room for "nuance" in building alliances and extracting bi- and multi-lateral agreements to advance or achieve war aims. But those celebrating Kerry's "appreciation" and "talent" for "thinking" and "speaking" with "nuance" misapprehend by what we are confronted.

We face an enemy who does not find "nuance," or Arjun's oft-stated "sensitivity" an impediment to his war aims and capability. On the ground, he uses his brute power, leveraging religion, tribal affiliation, ethnic identity, and financial reward to kill, to kill, to kill. And, in the face of this, we can decide to win or lose. If we remain committed to winning, as GWB clearly is, we'll win. With Kerry, we have a different proposition.

It is critical to understand that Kerry is the anti-war candidate. The single, largest cohort of his political base is anti-war. He may believe, and others close to him, or familiar with him, such as McCain, may believe Kerry is "committed" to "winning." Kerry himself may, in moments (or hours, days, weeks or months of self-delusion) that he too, is "committed" to "winning."

But Kerry's complete failure to articulate a critique of GWB's efforts in Iraq logically consistent with a realistic plan for victory once elected speaks volumes about Kerry's true attitudes toward the war. Throw in his record of habitual weakness on national security issues carefully nurtured over nineteen years in the U.S. Senate (actually, dating back to the immediate aftermath of his "service" in the Vietnamese war, so 35 years is closer to the truth), and what we have is, once you strip away all the dross of "nuance," a man who is, at best, ambivalent about the processes and tools used to defend the U.S., and at worse absolutely adverse to them. But he wants us to trust him to lead the nation in war against brutal, evil, blood-thirsty murderers who seek nothing more and nothing less than our death – but fails to recognize his “nuance” is a perceived weakness our enemies will exploit over and over again to kill.

So, again, nuance may have utility in certain places at certain times, but to make it the defining character trait of a candidate who seeks to lead a nation during a time of war is foolish, at best. We need to win; and we will win if we are committed to winning. If that means offending those who seek "nuance" so that we might excuse their corruption and weakness (the U.N., France, and Germany), or to excuse their own geo-political aims (France, Russia and China), so be it. Our need to win, our need to survive, is at stake. If the U.N., the French, Germans, Russians and Chinese fail to join us, or fail to appreciate the risk, it doesn’t stop us from fulfilling our obligation to win.

For in the end, John Kerry's "nuance" doesn't kill terrorists; but it does provide us thousands of reasons for not doing so. That way lies defeat. Which is why Kerry's statement today that "I want victory. I want to win" is a lie. To be fair, Kerry may be lying to himself as well as to the rest of us. But the people who made Kerry their nominee don't want to win - they want us out, yesterday. So much for nuance.

Posted by: Tim at September 24, 2004 04:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As a very moral man, I think President Bush feels strongly the U.S. must not turn its back on Iraq a SECOND time.. As for Kerry, why does he find it nessary to mouth such banalities as ," I will defend the United States of America?" He says that all the time.

Posted by: exguru at September 24, 2004 04:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

When GWB began his presidency he wasn't thinking about having to lead our nation through World War IV. He didn't anticipate another sneak attack. And he shouldn't be held accountable for early mistakes, which any president is bound to make, as he tried to focus on the problems he was confronted with and, calm the publics' fears.

Through all the speeches and web postings I have read, there seems to be an unlimited number of people who know exactly what president Bush should have done, but not one is man enough to lead this country, much less get elected president.

Kerry is one of the latter, worse, he should have never been elected to the Senate. Kerry is obviously a coward at heart, his Vietnam record shows that. He has no plans for anything other than getting elected because he had no future in the senate which would have elevated him to the lofty pinacle he deems himself entitled. He's a loser and he will lose his bid for the presidency.

Any candidate who abuses the men assigned to protect him while he makes a fool of himself, will abuse those who voted for him. We have enough to face in the years ahead without this albatros around our necks.

Posted by: Jim Martin at September 24, 2004 05:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To quote PM Allawi, "When political leaders sound the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism, it only encourages more violence".

This must be why senior Republicans like Richard Lugar, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are giving aid and comfort to the Enemy by condemning the Bush administration's "incompetence" in its Iraq planning. And why another small-time legislator like Chuck Hagel is openly displaying his defeatist attitude by admitting "we're in deep trouble in Iraq."

Obviously these gentlemen don't care if they're encouraging more violence. They're probably willing to let the terrorists win anyway.

Or could it possibly be that, in a democracy, having the willingness and honesty - and sometimes, courage - to criticize the conduct or policy of your government - even in public! - is actually closer to what it means to love your country?

Posted by: Keev at September 24, 2004 05:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Over the last few evenings , I have been reading all the military blogs I could find. In each one they state that they get the news from the states in Iraq. They also state that when speeches are given and statements are made about this being the "wrong war at the wrong time and the wrong place " is very demoralizing. They present a very different picture of what is happening there as opposed to what we ,here at home, are being told through our media. Don't you know that statements being made daily about how bad things are going in Iraq makes all our troops , that are giving their all in this war , feel like second rate citizens instead of the heroes they truly are? They are watching and listening to the speeches being given by both presidential candidates. They are behind their CIC all the way.
Shirley (from Texas)

Posted by: BaBa at September 24, 2004 06:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hi Greg! Remember when liberals were serious about Iraq and sincere in their intentions to improve the situation over there?

Here's an old article (back in Feb. 15,2004) by Tom Friedman that's worth re-reading again just to compare Kerry's position now in iraq to what many decent anti-bush libs were hoping for back then.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/15/opinion/15FRIE.html?ex=1392181200&en=c2c3d96035de9a57&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND

Meet the Press
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Published: February 15, 2004

The situation in Iraq is fast approaching the tipping point. The terrorists know that if they can wreak enough havoc, kill enough Iraqis waiting in line to join their own police force, they can prevent the U.N. from coming up with a plan for elections and a stable transfer of U.S. authority to an Iraqi government. Once authority is in Iraqi hands, the Baathists and Islamists have a real problem: They can't even pretend to be fighting the U.S. anymore. It will be clear to all Arabs and Muslims that they are fighting against the freedom and independence of Iraq and for their own lunatic ideologies. Which is why they are desperate to prevent us from reaching that tipping point. Their strategy is to sow chaos, defeat President Bush and hope that his Democratic successor will pull out. Which is also why at this moment the most important statement on Iraq that can be made — one that could even save lives — is nothing President Bush could say. No, the most important statement on Iraq right now could only come from the likely Democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry.

Imagine that Tim Russert followed his excellent interview with President Bush with an interview today with Mr. Kerry. Here's what I hope it would sound like. Mr. Russert: "Senator Kerry, you essentially voted in favor of the war, but argued that the way the Bush team carried it out was deeply flawed. Well, now we're there. Tell the American people how you would deal with Iraq going forward."

Senator Kerry: "Tim, before I answer that question, I first want to direct a message to the die-hard Baathists and Islamo-fascists who've been slaughtering Iraqis struggling to build their first democratic government. And my message to these terrorists is this: `READ MY LIPS — if I am president, I will not cut and run. I will not pull our troops out in the face of your intimidation the way Ronald Reagan fled from Lebanon.' Because that panicky retreat from Beirut in 1984 started us down this whole path, where terrorists believed if they hit us hard enough, we would run and they would get away with it. I hate how George Bush has prosecuted this war. I know I could do better. But I want every suicide bomber — from Bali to Baghdad — to understand one thing about a Kerry administration: `You can blow yourselves up from now until next Ramadan, but we'll still be in Iraq. You'll be dead, but we'll still be there. Which part of that sentence don't you understand?'

"I don't say this to be macho-man, Tim. I'm not George Bush. I say this because it's the best way to save American and Iraqi lives. You see, Tim, I identify so strongly with my band of brothers and sisters wearing the American uniform in Iraq. The best way to endanger them is to suggest to the terrorists that there is daylight between me and President Bush — that if he won't run, I will. Well, there is no daylight on ends. A Kerry administration will see that Iraqis get every chance to produce their own representative government.

"But there is daylight on means. You see, Tim, if I were president, I would insist that we have a real policy of energy conservation to enlist every American in this war, by asking each of us to choke off some of the funds going to the Islamist totalitarians. I would immediately invite the leaders of the U.N., Germany, France and NATO to Camp David to rebuild the alliance that won the cold war, so we have the staying power to win this war of ideas in the Muslim world. And I would have my secretary of state out in the Middle East regularly, arguing our case, bolstering our allies and trying to bring about a secure peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

"Oh yes, Tim, my means would be very different. Unlike the Bush team, I understand that just because you have a hammer, not every problem is a nail. It takes more than force to win a war of ideas. But on ends, Tim, let no one have any illusions: a Kerry presidency will pay any price and bear any burden to try to build a decent Iraqi regime in the heart of the Arab world. My making that commitment now is the best way to prove to the terrorists that their actions are futile, and in that way save American and Iraqi lives. Failure to make that commitment would have horrific consequences for U.S. foreign policy.

"Tim, I am no dreamer. I've seen a quagmire close up. We can't want a unified, decent Iraq more than the Iraqis themselves. Ultimately, they will have to step up and come together around a plan and a leader. But the terrorists should have no illusions, and the Iraqi people should have no fears: America under John Kerry will give them every chance to succeed. We will not run."

Posted by: john marzan at September 24, 2004 06:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hi Greg! Remember when liberals were serious about Iraq and sincere in their intentions to improve the situation over there?

Here's an old article (back in Feb. 15,2004) by Tom Friedman that's worth re-reading again just to compare Kerry's position now in iraq to what many decent anti-bush libs were hoping for back then.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/15/opinion/15FRIE.html?ex=1392181200&en=c2c3d96035de9a57&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND

Meet the Press
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Published: February 15, 2004

The situation in Iraq is fast approaching the tipping point. The terrorists know that if they can wreak enough havoc, kill enough Iraqis waiting in line to join their own police force, they can prevent the U.N. from coming up with a plan for elections and a stable transfer of U.S. authority to an Iraqi government. Once authority is in Iraqi hands, the Baathists and Islamists have a real problem: They can't even pretend to be fighting the U.S. anymore. It will be clear to all Arabs and Muslims that they are fighting against the freedom and independence of Iraq and for their own lunatic ideologies. Which is why they are desperate to prevent us from reaching that tipping point. Their strategy is to sow chaos, defeat President Bush and hope that his Democratic successor will pull out. Which is also why at this moment the most important statement on Iraq that can be made — one that could even save lives — is nothing President Bush could say. No, the most important statement on Iraq right now could only come from the likely Democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry.

Imagine that Tim Russert followed his excellent interview with President Bush with an interview today with Mr. Kerry. Here's what I hope it would sound like. Mr. Russert: "Senator Kerry, you essentially voted in favor of the war, but argued that the way the Bush team carried it out was deeply flawed. Well, now we're there. Tell the American people how you would deal with Iraq going forward."

Senator Kerry: "Tim, before I answer that question, I first want to direct a message to the die-hard Baathists and Islamo-fascists who've been slaughtering Iraqis struggling to build their first democratic government. And my message to these terrorists is this: `READ MY LIPS — if I am president, I will not cut and run. I will not pull our troops out in the face of your intimidation the way Ronald Reagan fled from Lebanon.' Because that panicky retreat from Beirut in 1984 started us down this whole path, where terrorists believed if they hit us hard enough, we would run and they would get away with it. I hate how George Bush has prosecuted this war. I know I could do better. But I want every suicide bomber — from Bali to Baghdad — to understand one thing about a Kerry administration: `You can blow yourselves up from now until next Ramadan, but we'll still be in Iraq. You'll be dead, but we'll still be there. Which part of that sentence don't you understand?'

"I don't say this to be macho-man, Tim. I'm not George Bush. I say this because it's the best way to save American and Iraqi lives. You see, Tim, I identify so strongly with my band of brothers and sisters wearing the American uniform in Iraq. The best way to endanger them is to suggest to the terrorists that there is daylight between me and President Bush — that if he won't run, I will. Well, there is no daylight on ends. A Kerry administration will see that Iraqis get every chance to produce their own representative government.

"But there is daylight on means. You see, Tim, if I were president, I would insist that we have a real policy of energy conservation to enlist every American in this war, by asking each of us to choke off some of the funds going to the Islamist totalitarians. I would immediately invite the leaders of the U.N., Germany, France and NATO to Camp David to rebuild the alliance that won the cold war, so we have the staying power to win this war of ideas in the Muslim world. And I would have my secretary of state out in the Middle East regularly, arguing our case, bolstering our allies and trying to bring about a secure peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

"Oh yes, Tim, my means would be very different. Unlike the Bush team, I understand that just because you have a hammer, not every problem is a nail. It takes more than force to win a war of ideas. But on ends, Tim, let no one have any illusions: a Kerry presidency will pay any price and bear any burden to try to build a decent Iraqi regime in the heart of the Arab world. My making that commitment now is the best way to prove to the terrorists that their actions are futile, and in that way save American and Iraqi lives. Failure to make that commitment would have horrific consequences for U.S. foreign policy.

"Tim, I am no dreamer. I've seen a quagmire close up. We can't want a unified, decent Iraq more than the Iraqis themselves. Ultimately, they will have to step up and come together around a plan and a leader. But the terrorists should have no illusions, and the Iraqi people should have no fears: America under John Kerry will give them every chance to succeed. We will not run."

Posted by: john at September 24, 2004 06:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Um... ok, let's see, "Kerry is a little man" because, like everyone else, he sees Allawi's visit as a political stunt by the President desperate to make his "success" in Iraq look like a success? And yet, we have a President who has single-handedly alienated the rest of the world in the past two years, and he this makes him "resolved".

What a bunch of nutcases.

Do I think that Kerry was diplomatic to Allawi? No. Far from it. Do I think that this was a transparent campaign stunt? Of course. Do I think both are reprehensible? Yes.

Now, get your heads out of your asses.

Posted by: Idiots everywhere at September 24, 2004 02:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Check out Frank Warner's latest "Freedom Count" at:
http://frankwarner.typepad.com/free_frank_warner/2004/09/freedom_count_a.html

Posted by: George at September 24, 2004 03:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory...how right you are, good article!

Kerry spewed this stuff back in the 70's and thinks he can do it again and win an election he has no chance of winning. Kerry says whatever his handlers tell him to say, and now with the "Clintonian Machines" behind him it will get much worse. What I feel sorry for is that Kerry and Michael Moore are trying to cause the same "disgrace" to our soldiers that was caused by anti-war protestors. What other country besides America and it's allies is willing to help other nations achieve freedom? France...nah, they'd rather steal money from the Iraqi Oil for food program, Germany...nah, they much rather look smug and say "I told you so", Italy...nah, better to make concessions with the terrorists and give them what they want, etc. Kerry is the Neville Chamberlain of the US.

Posted by: Ginifer at September 24, 2004 04:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Idiots everywhere: "we have a President who has single-handedly alienated the rest of the world in the past two years"

Please explain when England, Australia, Poland, Japan, ROK, etc. ceased being part of "the rest of the world."

Assuming you buy into Kerry's "I will bring our allies to the effort" bit, I offer (again) the same chance I have extended to many before: please tell me, specifically, which countries (not already engaged in Iraq with us) you anticipate joining the cause should Kerry win. To date, not a single person has provided any answer at all.

Posted by: submandave at September 24, 2004 05:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Idiots Everywhere - campaign stunt by whom, Bush or Allawi? Are you also referring to their respective UN addresses? Let's get something straight, failure is not an option in Iraq so rooting for the bad guys is like farting underneath your own covers - it's dark and it stinks. "Now, get your heads out of your asses" - Talk about a lack of oxygen... did John Edwards make your parents rich too?

Posted by: rhodeymark at September 24, 2004 08:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Submandave,

When talking about world support for Bush and his policies, it is important to distinguish between the governments and the populations, especially in democracies. While the leaders of the countries you named (and others in the coalition) are assisting Bush, their continued support is jeopardized by the overwhelming anti-Bush sentiment throughout the world, including the countries those leaders must seek re-election in.

This lack of popular support has very serious ramifications in terms of the quality and quantity of support we can expect from our allies. Aside from making Germany and France's future non-participation a fait accompli should Bush get re-elected (it probably is under Kerry anyway, but he has at least a glimmer of hope), this overwhelming public opinion limits the degree to which current members of the "coalition of the willing" can increase upon, and perpetuate, their existing levels of support. This will matter greatly as the occupation extends to many years (should Bush not decide to "cut and run" if that's what you want to call it).

Simply put, if a politician faces defeat for supporting Bush, he or she will likely pull out that nation's troops, or at the very least not send additional troops. Aznar already faced the wrath of Spain's electorate, and Blair in Britain, John Howard in Australia, and Berlusconi in Italy have seen their once proud popular mandates erode to the level of potential defeat at the polls.

So, the rest of the world is as much the people of the rest of the world, not the leaders of those nations (especially in democracies). Here is some of the polling data:


The poll of 34,330 people older than 15 from all regions of the world found that the majority or plurality of people from 32 countries prefer Kerry to Bush. "It is rather striking that just one in five people surveyed around the world support the re-election of President Bush," said Steve Kull, director of The Program on International Policy Attitudes of the University of Maryland, a co-sponsor of the survey...

Most traditional U.S. allies came out strongly favoring Kerry, while only those polled in Nigeria, Poland and the Philippines preferred Bush. Polling among some traditional U.S. allies found strongly negative attitudes toward Bush [such as Britain, Italy, Germany and Mexico].

"Even where the president does beat John Kerry, there is no enthusiasm apparent from the numbers," Kull said. "Those countries that support him for re-election also tend not to like his foreign policy."

The sample size, running from 500 to 1,800 people per country polled through a variety of means including face-to-face interviews, telephone or Internet was a fair measure of public sentiment, Kull said. Even when adjusted by weight of population in each country, results remained nearly identical, Kull said.

"Our average sample size per country of about 1,000 people is nearly double the number used by Gallup International for their annual Voice-of-the-People Poll," Kull said. "With numbers this robust it would be difficult to conclude anything but a broad feeling of dissatisfaction with Bush and his foreign policy."

http://www.iht.com/articles/537873.html

Discussed in context here:

http://tianews.blogspot.com/2004/09/spreading-liberty-to-people-you-dont.html

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 24, 2004 08:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ginifer,

Isn't Italy an active member of the coalition? Why do you insult them?

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 24, 2004 08:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eric,

So sorry, please except my apologies. I meant Spain. My mistake.

Posted by: Ginifer at September 25, 2004 01:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Chalk Eric Martin up as one who would seek a permission slip from the rest of the world before the U.S. acts on its own national security needs. I, and most Americans, will be voting the other way.

Posted by: Tim at September 25, 2004 03:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm grateful for the opportunity to defend the praiseworthy commenter Eric Martin (although, as a more able commenter than I am, he is perfectly able to defend himself).

Eric Martin never said anything about seeking a "permission slip" from the rest of the world to defend U.S. national security. That is a bizarre interpretation, without any rational basis.

Posted by: Arjun at September 25, 2004 02:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A belated thank you Arjun. I was away this weekend and have not had the opportunity to check in at B.D.

Tim, that's ridiculous. Please point to how you reached that conclusion from what I wrote.

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