Thursday, June 15, 2006

Kerry's regrets (and my own)

John Kerry has reiterated his call for a large-scale withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq before the end of the year. The Boston Globe: "The sweeping resolution amounts to the senator's sharpest condemnation of the war and his broadest repudiation of his own vote to authorize force. It also stands in contrast to his handling of the war issue during his campaign for president two years ago."

And there's your problem. Why -- WHY???!!! -- wasn't Kerry this forceful, this determined, this eloquent back in '04, back when he could have presented himself in even starker contrast to the Panglossian Bush? Why couldn't he say then, as he says now, that, knowing what he knows now, he would have voted against the war? Because he would have looked weak? Because he had to match Bush's toughness on terror? But look where he ended up. Waffling and dithering straight into a defeat that never should have been. The new Kerry might still have lost, unless the old one actually won, but at least he would have lost with his dignity intact. At least, in the end, he would have been vindicated.

Is it too late now for vindication? Not necessarily. I disagree with some of the specifics, but I commend Kerry here -- as I have before. I'm not sure how many troops should be withdrawn, and when, but I admire Kerry's passion and sincerity. As one of his most ardent supporters in '04, however, I have my deep regrets that the old Kerry wasn't more like this new one, the one with regrets of his own.

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At The Washington Note, Steve Clemons responds to Kerry:

At this point, I am not thrilled with the prospect of another Kerry run for the presidency -- but he's made progress at least in his thinking about the costs of Iraq to American prestige in the world and to global stability. The question Kerry has to answer -- and has not to my satisfaction -- is can he tell the difference between conflicts that require the application of American troops and military power and those that do not.

Iraq was the WRONG war from day one and was a fundamental distraction from the complex, transnational threat that bin Laden was brewing against the U.S. and Europe. The Iraq War that Bush contrived as a response to 9/11 -- aided and abetted by many Democrats and most Republicans in the Congress -- has punctured the mystique of American power in the world and created incentives for foes to move their agendas and allies to not count on America quite as much as before.

How will we know the next time that John Kerry might get the answer right? He needs to tell us more -- because on this one, he was dead wrong.

Very well put. And right on the mark.

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