A Cautious Man
September 28, 2004
 
"I get up in the evening,
and I ain't got nothing to say ..."

So if your candidate is Senator John Kerry, do you have this fear that he'll get up at the first Presidential debate (the one on foreign policy), and just stand there while being accused of "flip-flopping" on Iraq? Me, too.

Now, if I were giving him advice (not that I have the opportunity to do so), I would suggest that he cut that attack off before it begins. His opening statement should be:

"Good evening. Nearly two years ago, on October 9, 2002, I addressed the Senate before we voted to give President Bush the authority to use force, if necessary, in Iraq. And what I said that day, is what I have continued to say ever since -
By beginning its public discourse with talk of invasion and regime change, the administration raised doubts about their bona fides on the most legitimate justification for war--that in the post-September 11 world the unrestrained threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein is unacceptable, and his refusal to allow U.N. inspectors to return was in blatant violation of the 1991 cease-fire agreement that left him in power. By casting about in an unfocused, undisciplined, overly public, internal debate for a rationale for war, the administration complicated their case, confused the American public, and compromised America's credibility in the eyes of the world community. By engaging in hasty war talk rather than focusing on the central issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the administration placed doubts in the minds of potential allies, particularly in the Middle East, where managing the Arab street is difficult at best.
...

The reason for going to war, if we must fight, is not because Saddam Hussein has failed to deliver gulf war prisoners or Kuwaiti property. As much as we decry the way he has treated his people, regime change alone is not a sufficient reason for going to war, as desirable as it is to change the regime.

Regime change has been an American policy under the Clinton administration, and it is the current policy. I support the policy. But regime change in and of itself is not sufficient justification for going to war--particularly unilaterally--unless regime change is the only way to disarm Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction pursuant to the United Nations resolution.
"And when I voted to give the President that authority, I did so with the understanding that he would not use it unless the threat was imminent, unless there was no other option, and unless he built a real coalition, including the Arab states, so that we would be able to win the peace -
And the administration, I believe, is now committed to a recognition that war must be the last option to address this threat, not the first, and that we must act in concert with allies around the globe to make the world's case against Saddam Hussein.

As the President made clear earlier this week, "Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable." It means "America speaks with one voice."

Let me be clear, the vote I will give to the President is for one reason and one reason only: To disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies.


If we do wind up going to war with Iraq , it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent--and I emphasize "imminent" -- threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs.


Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him by force, if we ever exhaust those other options, as the President has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has not proven possible under any circumstances.
"We know now that, after that vote, and action by the United Nations, the inspectors did return to Iraq, and were undertaking the difficult job of hunting for weapons of mass destruction, until the day President Bush told them to leave."

And, more stuff like that.

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