Sunday, June 20, 2004
"he's [Kerry] now forcing a debate on this fundamental question and I do think it opens him up to the counterattack that if John Kerry had been president, Saddam Hussein would still be in power." - Bill Kristol (transcript)
This is a false dilemma: The question is not "Support the war or you like Saddam."
It's also a very telling statement. Let's dig into it a little bit. Kristol's point is that if President Bush had not gone to such extraordinary lengths to justify the war, we would not have done so, and Saddam would still be in power. Ok. So here's the issue, the extraordinary lengths were not true. The President lied (deliberately or not) to the American people to get us to go to war (WMD, Iraq-Al Qaeda, defending human rights). Mr. Kristol is confusing leadership with the ability to lie to and coerce the American electorate.
I believe that Mr Kristol recognizes that the American people would have said no to this question, had they not been mislead into thinking that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States.
Here's the real question: Would the American people have supported war if it was only to enforce UN Resolution 1441, forcefully disarming Iraq for non-disclosure and non-compliance? Important to this is also balancing the true cost of the war, and not Mr. Wolfowitz's outright lies that "Iraq will be able to largely finance its own reconstruction through oil revenues." Iraq sold 5 BILLION DOLLARS in the year since we've occupied the country. We have spent 200 BILLION DOLLARS. Mr Wolfowitz is only off by 195 BILLION DOLLARS. Given all this, if the answer is no, then the war is unjustifiable, no matter how bad Saddam was.
Here's how John Kerry should answer this question: "If I had been President, I would have honestly laid out the risks and costs and asked the American people if it was worth it to go to war to enforce UN resolution 1441. I would have presented both sides of the intelligence to congress and the UN with all the caveats. I would have worked with the UN inspectors to verify our intelligence assessment. If the American people believed that Saddam's crimes were sufficient (without the WMD and Al Qaeda lies), I would have taken the nation to war."
This is how a Democracy is supposed to function.
Opposing the war does not make you a Saddam or a Bin Laden supporter.