Here are the press questions and Kerry's responses:
Q. "If you are elected, given Paul Bremer's remarks, and deteriorating conditions as you have judged them, would you be prepared to commit more troops."
A. "I will do what the generals believe we need to do without having any chilling effect, as the president put in place by firing General Shinseki, and I'll have to wait until January 20th. I don't know what I am going to find on January 20th, the way the president is going. If the president just does more of the same every day, and it continues to deteriorate, I may be handed Lebanon, figuratively speaking. Now, I just don't know. I can't tell you. What I'll tell you is, I have a plan. I have laid out my plan to America, and I know that my plan has a better chance of working. And in the next days I am going to say more about exactly how we are going to do what has been available to this Administration that it has chosen not to do. But I will make certain that our troops are protected. I will hunt down and kill the terrorists, and I will make sure that we are successful, and I know exactly what I am going to do and how to do it."
Comment on this first "answer:"
1. By playing the "Shinseki card"* Mr. Kerry is claiming that President Bush is not getting accurate information from the commanders in the field because they are afraid they will lose their jobs if they tell the truth. Everybody is lying to save their own careers.
- Basically says President doesn't want to hear truth if it's bad news;
- So commanders won't tell truth;
- Because no one tells truth, and the commanders are so self interested they are allowing the situation to deteriorate without doing or saying anything to protect their troops and the troops are getting killed and wounded unnecessarily;
- Asserts that he, Kerry, despite never being there, somehow knows the "ground" truth of Iraq;
- Except maybe he doesn't -the situation may be worse later (but certainly not better);
- However, no mater how bad situation is, he has a plan that will fix it.
2. Kerry again contradicts himself mid-thought. He says:
- "I will do what the generals believe we need to do..." then
- Now I just don't know. I can't tell you..." then
- "I have a plan..."
3. He says he has "laid my plan out to America..." Is he talking about his plan to get more allies? He's already admitted France and Germany won't be playing in Iraq. If the plan is the one from his website it is consistent with the pattern we have heard from Kerry and Edwards so far in that it requires cooperation from many nations except Iraq itself. Yep, incredibly, it ignores the Iraqis completely! Maybe he doesn't consider them interested parties.
Here's his plan (from an April 30, 2004 speech at Westminster College): (my comments in bold)
First, we must create a stable and secure environment in Iraq. (meaningless undefined terms) That will require a level of forces equal to the demands of the mission. (Doh! Bet our planners wish they'd thought of that) To do this right, we have to truly internationalize both politically and militarily: we cannot depend on a US-only presence. (Facts wrong -we have 30+ allies, including the Iraqi and you know, the "bribed and coerced" ) In the short-term, however, if our commanders believe they need more American troops, they should say so and they should get them. (which is exactly what Bush and Rumsfeld have said, as have our commanders in the field)
But more and more American soldiers cannot be the only solution. Other nations have a vital interest in the outcome and they must be brought in. (Apparently Kerry believes Iraq has no interest in the outcome so he fails to mention them. France and Germany say "no" and so far, the only guy talking about adding "more and more" U.S. troops is Kerry)
To accomplish this, we must do the hard work to get the world’s major political powers to join in this mission. (You mean like going to the UN over and over and warning its members that if they don't enforce their own resolutions that they will risk being "irrelevant") To do so, the President must lead. (You mean by going to the UN over and over...) He must build a political coalition of key countries, including the UK, France, Russia and China, the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, to share the political and military responsibilities and burdens of Iraq with the United States. (Only a truly naive internationalist would believe that would ever work)
The coalition should endorse the Brahimi plan for an interim Iraqi government, it should propose an international High Commissioner to work with the Iraqi authorities on the political transition, and it should organize an expanded international security force, preferably with NATO, but clearly under US command. (or you could work with the Iraqi interim government and hold elections as soon as possible and let the Iraqis decide their own fate)
Once these elements are in place, the coalition would then go to the UN for a resolution to ratify the agreement. The UN would provide the necessary legitimacy. The UN is not the total solution but it is a key that opens the door to participation by others. (blah, blah, blah, UN, blah, blah, oil for food, blah, blah, etc)
His plan is OBE. Most of the heavy lifting has been done. Powerful forces have been set in motion, such as planning for the election. The Iraqis are ramping up, proud people that they are, for self-government, whether or not the UN "ratifies" it. Under the circumstances of the "oil for food" program, I would think the Iraqis might have somewhat less appreciation of the merits of the UN than Mr. Kerry seems to have.
Summary: Kerry must talk just to hear his own words, whether or not they make sense. He obviously is either clueless or indifferent as to how his words will be received by the parties he so casually slanders. Does he expect any of the generals he has just called self-absorbed cowards to suddenly trust him? Will he really listen to what these men he has inferred are chicken-hearted careerists recommend? Or not? Or will he just follow his magic plan and have all the lions and lambs lie down together?
How can anyone listen to this nonsense and not be nervous that this man is in a tight race for the presidency?
But wait, there's more.
Q. Duelfer also said that Saddam fully intended to resume his weapons of mass destruction program because he felt that the sanctions were just going to fritter away.
A. But we wouldn't let them just fritter away. That's the point. Folks! If You've got a guy who's dangerous, you've got a guy you suspect is going to do something, you don't lift the sanctions, that's the fruits of good diplomacy. This Administration...I beg your pardon?
Q. You just said [Bush] fictionalized him [Saddam] as an enemy. Now you just said he's dangerous?
A. No. What I said. I said it all the time. Consistently I have said Saddam Hussein presented a threat. I voted for the authorization, because he presented a threat. There are all kinds of threats in the world, ladies and gentlemen. Al Qaeda is in 60 countries. Are we invading all 60 countries? 35 to 40 countries had the same --more-- capability of creating weapons, nuclear weapons, at the time the president invaded Iraq than Iraq did. Are we invading all 35 to 40 of them? Did we invade Russia? Did we invade China? The point is that there are all kinds of options available to a president to deal with threats and I consistently laid out to the president how to deal with Saddam Hussein, who was a threat. If I'd been president, I'd have wanted the same threat of force. But as I have said a hundred times if not a thousand iin this campaign, there was a right way to use that authority and a wrong way. The president did it the wrong way. He rushed to war without a plan to win the peace, against my warnings and other people's warnings. And now we have the mess we have today. It is completely consistent that you can see him as a threat and deal with him realistically just as we saw the Soviet Union and China and others as threats and have dealt with them in other ways.
Translation: "I have always covered all my bases by carefully choosing to be on every side in every argument. I said Saddam was dangerous before I said he wasn't. I think we can agree fighting everyone is bad. So I want to engage in lots of coalition building to keep everyone tied up so there won't be any fighting, even if we have to act as if we might fight sometime when we get the right coalition put together and have taken every action short of actually doing anything."
Final thoughts: His first reaction to international issues is to look outside the U.S. for answers. Obviously he distrusts this country. He seems to believe that American foreign policy is not legitimate unless confirmed by the French, the Russians or other "allies." It's the "global" test over and over again.
His ready assumption that others would place their careers above their duty to their nation and to their troops may reveal more about his own approach to power than he ever intended.
*Shinseki wasn't fired, but he should have been. Jed Babbin wrote a brilliant piece on the "revolt of the general" for National Review and lays out all the reasons why Shinseki should have been long gone before he had a chance to set up the current administration with his "guesstimate" on the number of troops that might be needed. In essence, Secretary Rumsfeld was trying to transform the military and the leader of the resistance was his Army Chief of Staff. Where Rumsfeld wanted light, fast and "joint." Shinseki was an "old Army" heavy metal guy whose idea of transformation was to spend lots of money on new Army equipment that didn't meet any need. If Shinseki's situation "chilled" anyone it was the his cronies in the Army who were helping in resisting the message that Secretary Rumsfeld was trying to deliver. Shinseki is also political and an alleged protege of Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). Kerry is supporting a Democrat politico to be and also snuggling up to Inouye.
Update: Fixed glitch in first question.