I have a few more questions about John Kerry’s foreign policy and national security “vision,” as laid out (or not) in his convention speech and elsewhere.
You say, Mr. Kerry, that President Bush burned bridges with our allies in going to war against Iraq precipitously. How exactly did he burn those bridges? It surely wasn’t that he failed to consult — tirelessly — with those nations, because he did.
He asked France, Germany and Russia to join the coalition. They refused. He asked them again and again, and they refused. At that point, what should Mr. Bush, as commander in chief, have done?
Should he have shared all of our intelligence with them to try to persuade them of Saddam’s WMD programs? I’m sure he did, but it wouldn’t have mattered, because they already believed it anyway. As you know, Mr. Kerry, these nations were all quite convinced, independent of what we told them, that Saddam was actively engaged in acquiring WMD. But they were unmoved.
What else, then, should we have done to try to convince them to join us? You’ve said, quite cryptically, that as president you would have multiple bargaining chips at your disposal to use in negotiations with foreign countries. Are we to assume that you would use these chips as leverage to pressure recalcitrant nations into joining our coalition against their will? How would you fulfill your promise to enhance our relations with these nations while bullying them into war? Is that what you mean by your commitment to conduct a more “sensitive” war on terror?
Or, in order to stay on the good side of “Old Europe,” would you yield, alter your course and decline to strike Iraq? If so, would you then be breaking your pledge not to confer a veto power on other nations over our national security interests?
You’ve also said that you have a great deal of experience — some 20 years — dealing and negotiating with foreign countries and foreign leaders. Since the Constitution vests the executive power in the president, can you tell us which leaders you negotiated with and pursuant to what authority?
What possible bargaining chips could you have played as a lone congressman in dealing with any foreign leader? Surely you weren’t conspiring with them against a sitting president. So please tell us specifically you’re talking about.
Do you stand by your party’s equivocal platform plank that reasonable people may disagree on whether we should have gone to war against Iraq? Is that based on what we know now or what we thought we knew prior to going to war?
If you do stand by this platform copout that either position is reasonable, how can you condemn President Bush for going to war? And how do you square this ambiguous position with your statement that the United States should never go to war because we want to, but only because we have to? Surely that was your barely veiled code language to your base that we didn’t “have” to go to war against Iraq and therefore shouldn’t have.
If it is only reasonable and prudent for America to go to war when we have to, then how can reasonable people disagree about whether we should have attacked Iraq, since we didn’t “have” to? Either we “had” to attack — in which case reasonable people, by definition, couldn’t have opposed the war — or we didn’t have to, in which case it was unreasonable (according to you) for us to attack. For once, Senator, please slide off that fence.
And if your sole face-saving claim for your absurdly inconsistent positions on Iraq is that President Bush lied about WMD intelligence, how do you account for the CIAÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢s and the 9-11 Commission’s conclusion that he didn’t lie? But if you insist on maintaining this fraud, please tell us what specific intelligence the president lied about or exaggerated. Surely not that Saddam tried to purchase uranium from Niger? … Then what?
Are you saying the president didn’t believe Saddam had WMD stockpiles, or better yet, somehow knew that he didn’t? But how could he have possibly believed, much less known, that Saddam didn’t have WMD when our intelligence agencies and those of all other relevant nations said he did? (I’ll try not to mention again that you had access to the same intelligence as the president.)
Oh, and did you vote for the Iraq war resolution because President Bush conned you about WMD or because you thought he would only attack as a last resort? You’ve said both, but you can’t have it both ways. If you believed he had them, you shouldn’t have been in the “wait-and-see” camp.