Monday, October 11, 2004

John Kerry: Simply Not Sure

The second presidential debate took place with 25 days left in the election. The war in Iraq has been an issue now for years, literally. Two days before the second debate, the final ISG report on Iraq was released and it’s author, Charles Duelfer testified before Congress on his findings. At this point, all that will be known before the election about the conditions in Iraq that led to the American led invasion is known. We have had the Roberts and Butler reports from Britain, the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on prewar intelligence, the 9/11 Commission Report and now the 1,000 page Duelfer report. Despite all of this, John Kerry is, by his own admission, still unable to say whether or not Saddam Hussein would still be in power had he been president at the time of the invasion. An excerpt from the debate on October 8, 2004 :

Bush: The truth of that matter is, if you listen carefully, Saddam would still be in power if he were the president of the United States, "And the world would be a lot better off."

Gibson: And, Senator Kerry, 30 seconds.

Kerry: Not necessarily be in power, but here's what I'll say about the $87 billion.

“Not necessarily be in power”? How can a man who is running to be the leader of the free world not be sure of whether or not Saddam Hussein would still be in power had he been president for the last four years? What does it mean to say, “Not necessarily be in power”? We know all we are going to know before the election, Senator Kerry. If you are unable to answer the question now, you will never be able to answer the question. Do the voters not deserve to know what action, if any, you would have taken had you been president.

How can a man who cannot take a stand on that basic position profess to be able to lead the troops to victory? A few weeks ago John Kerry decided to take a hard left anti war stance. Since then he has called the war a “colossal error”, the “wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time”, and a “grand diversion”. Yet, when put on the spot, he is unable to state what it is he would have done.

His inability to answer on Iraq carries into other areas of his foreign policy as well . Earlier in the debate the Senator was asked a very specific question about Iran. The following is the complete transcript of the question and the Senator’s answer:

KERRY: Is it Randee?

JACOBS: Yes, Randee.

Iran sponsors terrorism and has missiles capable of hitting Israel and southern Europe. Iran will have nuclear weapons in two to three years time.

In the event that U.N. sanctions don't stop this threat, what will you do as president?

KERRY: I don't think you can just rely on U.N. sanctions, Randee. But you're absolutely correct, it is a threat, it's a huge threat.

And what's interesting is, it's a threat that has grown while the president has been preoccupied with Iraq, where there wasn't a threat.

If he'd let the inspectors do their job and go on, we wouldn't have 10 times the numbers of forces in Iraq that we have in Afghanistan chasing Osama bin Laden.

Meanwhile, while Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons, some 37 tons of what they called yellow cake, the stuff they use to make enriched uranium, while they're doing that, North Korea has moved from one bomb maybe, maybe, to four to seven bombs.

For two years, the president didn't even engage with North Korea, did nothing at all, while it was growing more dangerous, despite the warnings of former Secretary of Defense William Perry, who negotiated getting television cameras and inspectors into that reactor.

We were safer before President Bush came to office. Now they have the bombs and we're less safe.

So what do we do? We've got to join with the British and the French, with the Germans, who've been involved, in their initiative. We've got to lead the world now to crack down on proliferation as a whole.

But the president's been slow to do that, even in Russia.

At his pace, it's going to take 13 years to reduce and get ahold of all the loose nuclear material in the former Soviet Union. I've proposed a plan that can capture it and contain it and clean it within four years.

And the president is moving to the creation of our own bunker- busting nuclear weapon. It's very hard to get other countries to give up their weapons when you're busy developing a new one.

I'm going to lead the world in the greatest counterproliferation effort. And if we have to get tough with Iran, believe me, we will get tough.

So what will the Senator do if the UN sanctions fail? After a 110 second diatribe that had nothing to do with the question, he threw out a vague line about “getting tough”. What does that mean exactly? Would he be willing to use military force against Iran? Would he be willing to lead a coalition of the willing as President Bush did in Iraq? George Bush has stated that he will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. He stated that all options, including military options are on the table. Why didn’t John Kerry say that. Why didn’t he (or couldn’t he) state that all options, including military options are on the table? It’s the same answer that makes it impossible for him to know whether or not Saddam Hussein would be in power had he been president the last four years. John Kerry is basically a pacifist who is running for President of the United States in a time of war. He cannot state what he would do if UN sanctions did not work against Iran because he does not know what he would do. The fact of the matter is John Kerry does not want to be a war time President. If that means withdrawing our troops and returning to the charade oof the 1990’s where we pretend we are at peace while we endure attack after attack, then that is what he will do. The fact of the matter is when he says “get tough” he likely means that he would urge the UN to pass another resolution. The best case scenario under President Kerry would be that the problem with Iran gets passed to the next generation, when a leader will have to deal with the prospect of sending troops into a nuclear country. the worst case scenario is threat Iran develops and uses a nuclear weapon while the UN tries to hammer out wording of a resolution and Senator Kerry holds summits to ensure we do not make anyone in Europe upset by using “tough words” in it.

It is this lack of a core that leaves him bereft of plans for Iraq, unable to answer the question about Iran and willing to revert to the Clinton era policy of bilateral talks (which led to their development of nuclear weapons) with North Korea. It is time to face the facts. Despite his polish and his debating skills, John Kerry is over his head when it comes to foreign policy in the 21st century. His ideas on the subject were formed in the 1960’s cold war era and they never developed beyond that point. He still believes that “containment” and “détente” are words that will protect us, when we now face an enemy that is willing to give up not only his own life, but the lives of millions of his kind, to strike us.

In the since the Democratic primaries began in earnest, John Kerry has held multiple positions on Iraq. In the debates and in his stump speeches he is fond of saying that he “has a plan”. As Jack Kelly wrote yesterday, his entire plan for Iraq consists of three “me-too’s” and one fantasy. The fact of the matter is on matters of foreign policy John Kerry has no plan, other than to make grand speeches at the UN and the G8 summit. Beyond that things get fuzzy for the Senator.

If the American people want a president that can not outline his own foreign policy in a time of war, who is incapable of taking a stand on the biggest issues of the day, then they should vote for John Kerry.

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