July 13, 2004 -- JOHN Kerry has finally spo ken the words that make
the November election an unambiguous choice. On "60 Minutes" on Sunday
night, according to the official transcript released by CBS News,
Kerry said: "I am against the — the war."
He tried to qualify them, to fudge them a bit, but no matter. The
words are now out there and can't be taken back.
The possible future president of the United States opposes the war in
Iraq now being fought by 130,000 American troops.
This is not a tenable position for Kerry. He first came to prominence
as a Vietnam war veteran against the war who famously asked (in what
is perhaps the only genuinely memorable sentence he has ever spoken):
"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
He and John Edwards were reduced to advancing a headshaking argument
on "60 Minutes" to explain why they were right to vote to authorize
the Iraq war and why they are right to criticize George W. Bush's
supposed "failure" to build international support for that war.
If President Bush had had greater success in building international
support for the war in Iraq, they said in unison on Sunday night, "we
would have found out" that Saddam Hussein did not have stockpiles of
Try to follow the twisted logic here. Kerry and Edwards say, if we'd
done better building a coalition to go to war with us, we would have
somehow magically discerned that Saddam didn't have WMD and therefore
we wouldn't have had to go to war at all.
This is quite a novel argument, so you have to give the boys credit
for adding an odd twist to the current campaign season. The problem is
that the argument is ludicrous in the extreme.
After all, the world's most implacable foe of the Iraq war, French
President Jacques Chirac, actually did believe Saddam possessed WMD.
If he had evidence that Saddam was disarmed, wouldn't he have used
that evidence to stop us from going to war?
Of course he would have. So would German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
So would Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But Putin, who opposed the war, actually thought that Saddam was
preparing to stage terrorist attacks on the United States. As he said
last month: "After the events of 9/11, and up to the military
operation in Iraq, Russian special services and Russian intelligence
several times received . . . information that official organs of
Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist acts on the territory of the
United States and beyond its borders, at U.S. military and civilian
So those who sought to prevent us from going to war with Saddam
thought that a) he possessed WMD and b) he was actively pursuing
terrorism against the United States.
And yet, according to Kerry and Edwards, if those folks had decided to
join us rather than try to stop us, they would have led us to the
supposed truth about how little at risk we were from Saddam.
What I want to know is this: How, after Sunday night, could a
President Kerry ask a single man or woman in the U.S. armed forces to
risk his or her life in Iraq when he is "against the — the war"? Don't
simple honesty and decency demand that Kerry immediately announce his
plans for a complete withdrawal from Iraq?
Kerry has made no such announcement. In fact, he continues to proclaim
his support for a huge American presence in Iraq on the grounds that
"the world has a stake in . . . a stable Iraq."
He never speaks about the Iraq war in terms of protecting America from
terrorism, or advancing democracy in the Muslim Middle East, or
liberating a suffering people from more than 30 years of tyranny and
He offers no cause higher or nobler than "stability."
That cannot stand. Kerry cannot lead this country to a successful
resolution of the hostilities in Iraq if the only positive value he
sees in victory is "stability." The country won't stand for it.