Issues2004: Iraq II

Issues2004: Iraq II

: A followup on yesterday‘s Issues2004 post on Iraq:

I don’t believe we have heard from either candidate a clear strategy and tactical plan for victory in Iraq — that is, for bringing security and democracy to the country, which is now our moral and political responsibility; that is the goal I set forth below.

I haven’t heard it clearly from Bush. His actions speak louder than word and so far, sorry to say, his actions do not reveal a plan for victory.

And last night, I added to the post below Kerry’s four-point plan on Iraq. But that troubled me as well. First, Kerry is not going for victory; he is going for withdrawl. Second, his means of withdrawl depends upon something I cannot see happening: namely, the entry of the U.N. and other countries into that literal minefield. You can kiss Annin ass and French ass and German ass and Russian ass as much as you want and I don’t see them coming in to — let’s call a spade a spade — rescue us from Iraq.

David Brooks said it, too, today in The Times:

The crucial passage in the speech was this one: “The principles that should guide American policy in Iraq now and in the future are clear: we must make Iraq the world’s responsibility, because the world has a stake in the outcome and others should share the burden.” From a U.S. responsibility, Iraq will become the world’s


Rhetorically, this was his best foreign policy speech by far (it helps to pick a side). Politically, it was risky. Kerry’s new liberal tilt makes him more forceful on the stump, but opens huge vulnerabilities. Does he really want to imply that 1,000 troops died for nothing?

By picking the withdrawal camp, he has assigned himself a clear task. Right now 54 percent of likely voters believe that the U.S. should stay as long as it takes to rebuild Iraq, while 39 percent believe that we should leave as soon as possible. Between now and Nov. 2, Kerry must flip those numbers.

Substantively, of course, Kerry’s speech is completely irresponsible. In the first place, there is a 99 percent chance that other nations will not contribute enough troops to significantly decrease the U.S. burden in Iraq. In that case, John Kerry has no Iraq policy. The promise to bring some troops home by summer will be exposed as a Disneyesque fantasy.

More to the point, Kerry is trying to use multilateralism as a gloss for retreat. If “the world” is going to be responsible for defeating Moktada al-Sadr and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then no one will be responsible for defeating them. The consequences for the people of Iraq and the region will be horrific.