Thursday, September 2


Corrente points us to John Kerry's speech before the American Legion yesterday. It's an important read:

I can't come here and fulfill my obligation as a candidate for President of these great United States and not give you a serious appraisal of the challenge we face in Iraq and the war on terror.

No one in the United States doubted the outcome in Iraq or how swiftly the war would be won. We knew we had the best-trained troops in the world and true to form, they performed magnificently, and we are all proud and grateful.

But the certainty of winning the war placed the most solemn obligation on the civilian leadership of this country, to make certain that we had a plan to win the peace.

The Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki told Congress we would need several hundred thousand American troops to win the peace and do the job properly. His candor was rewarded with early retirement and his advice ignored, sending a chilling message through the ranks of the professional military.

By dismissing the State Department's plan for post-war Iraq and proceeding unilaterally, the civilian leadership simply did not put the mechanism in place to secure the country. They were unprepared for the looting, insecurity, and insurgency that burst out with the fall of Saddam's regime.
They failed to secure Iraq's borders, and so allowed thousands of foreign terrorists, Islamist militants, and intelligence agents to penetrate and destabilize post-war Iraq.

Amazingly, they had no real plan for post-war political transition. All of this happened despite clear and precise, bipartisan, warnings from Congress, and regional experts.

Then, as the challenge grew around our troops, the civilian leadership failed to respond adequately; failed to share responsibility with NATO or the UN, which offered assistance; failed to share reconstruction or decision-making, as a way of inviting others to shoulder the burden; and failed to provide the security on the ground necessary for post-war reconstruction.

They rushed and short-changed the training and equipment of the Iraqi police; they failed to recruit enough experts in the language and culture of the region and used those they had ineffectively.

The civilian leadership disbanded the Iraqi military completely so there was no internal structure to maintain order; chose consciously to put an American, instead of an international face on the occupation; failed to prepare for a large number of prisoners; and most significantly, failed even to guard nuclear waste and ammunition storage sites, despite the fact that weapons of mass destruction was their fundamental reason for the war. And some of the weapons we didn't guard are the very weapons being targeted at our troops today.

As a result, today terrorists have secured havens in Iraq that were not there before. And we have been forced to reach accommodation with those who have repeatedly attacked our troops. Violence has spread in Iraq; Iran has expanded its influence; and extremism has gained momentum.

President Bush now admits he miscalculated in Iraq. In truth, his miscalculation was ignoring the advice that was given to him, including the best advice of America's own military.

So when the president says we have the same position on Iraq, I have to respectfully disagree. Our differences couldn't be plainer. And I have set them out consistently. When it comes to Iraq, it's not that I would have done one thing differently, I would've done almost everything differently.

I wouldn't have gone to war at all -- I opposed it vociferously from the beginning of the war chant. But if I HAD, I'd have wanted a John Kerry to be leading the effort. I don't think I've heard anyone say it in a long time (if ever), but BushCheney et al didn't WANT international institutions to cooperate -- they wanted to keep what they expected to be the "war booty" all for themselves and their capitalist cronies (not all American, mind you). They wanted all the credit if (they were sure WHEN) they they have to take all the blame because they didn't.


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