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September 21, 2004
Kerry's New Iraq Plan The Same As Bush's: WaPo

John Kerry got a lot of press yesterday for a new policy speech on Iraq which supposedly clarified his myriad positions on the war. Robin Wright reports that the speech was part of a new Democratic effort to push Iraq to the forefront of Kerry's campaign, but as Wright points out, the only thing different between Kerry's plan and Bush's operational strategy already in place is Kerry's faith in those elusive "foreign leaders":

John F. Kerry's four-point plan for Iraq proposes ambitious solutions to accelerate the military transition, refocus reconstruction and ensure that democracy takes root, all while lessening the burden on the United States by bringing in greater foreign aid and support. ...

The premise in all four points is that Kerry will be able to mobilize an international community that has been alienated by President Bush's strategy of preemptive strikes and by U.S. defiance of close allies and the United Nations. "We have divided our friends and united our enemies. And our standing in the world is at an all-time low," Kerry said in a feisty speech at New York University. "We must make Iraq the world's responsibility, because the world has a stake in the outcome and others should share the burden. . . . I'm convinced that with the right leadership, we can create a fresh start."

But analysts questioned whether any American leader will be able to mobilize greater international participation, given the current dangers in Iraq and domestic political considerations in countries that have resisted earlier U.S. requests to play a role.

Kerry claims to be able to secure the cooperation and involvement of NATO members currently not part of the coalition. However, Bush has repeatedly tried to involve NATO in Iraq, to little result. Even Kofi Annan scolded UN member nations for not providing support for Iraqi reconstruction after unanimously approving the US/UK occupation and transition of sovereignty. Bush continued this week to cajole NATO just to meet its earlier commitment to provide training to Iraqi army and police units, which NATO has delayed:

But the Bush administration has tried to organize a U.N. protection force for the election staff but found no country willing to contribute, even after pleas from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Bush's foreign policy team, backed by the new Iraqi interim government, has appealed to allies for troops to either help stabilize Iraq or train its new military, with marginal results. NATO, already stretched thin with missions in Afghanistan and the Balkans, has shown little interest in a major role in Iraq. And former secretary of state James A. Baker III has toured the world appealing for debt relief for Iraq, eliciting pledges to consider partial relief but yielding no tangible results yet.

Kerry claims that he can repair the alliances that Bush supposedly damaged and therefore get more suppport, but that's a seriously flawed misreading of the issues. France, Germany, and Russia -- the three countries that Kerry considers essential to the legitimacy of any coalition -- all traded heavily with Saddam Hussein and profited handsomely from the exchange. Saddam kicked back millions of dollars in oil futures to important politicians in all three countries through UNSCAM, and more ominously continued supplying Saddam with arms in covert defiance of the sanctions on Iraq.

And Kerry continues to consider these countries allies whom we've wronged, rather than the backstabbing, doubledealing snakes they've become. This lack of understanding that the alliance he speaks of had more or less fallen apart when the Berlin Wall fell -- and for France, when Kerry was in Viet Nam -- does not bode well for a president who will be expected to uphold American interests on the global stage.

At any rate, the likelihood of convincing these countries to join in the Iraqi reconstruction when we've put one of their main trading partners in a POW camp and while the free Iraqis hold them in contempt for their part in propping up a genocidal dictatorship is about the same as Kerry's chances of carrying Texas in November. Continuing to base a strategy in Iraq on Old Europe's sudden political sea change is the worst kind of idealism: fantasy.

Bush continues to press for change, but he isn't basing his strategic planning on that long shot. He's moving forward with plans to create free elections and build an Iraqi security force, which our troops in Iraq inform us gets stronger every day. He's certainly not giving deadlines for our withdrawal like John Kerry did yesterday, which is about as foolish as one could get in dealing with terrorists.

Those are our choices: Bush's pragmatism against Kerry's fantasy. In an age of Islamofascist terror, some may prefer the latter, but for our national security, I'll take the former.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 21, 2004 5:17 AM

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Senator Kerry has "taken a stand" on Iraq...again. It got a lot of media play yesterday. Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters takes a close look at his plan in today's Must Read posting. Don't miss it.... [Read More]

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