War in Iraq
What we must do now that we are in
Here are the main points from Kerry's speech on Iraq September 20, 2004:
- The war on Iraq was a mistake -- war was unnecessary
because the inspections were working: "Today, President Bush tells us
that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he
possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no
imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the
United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer is no -- because a
commander in chief's first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible
decision to keep America safe."
- Iraq distracted from the war on terror: "The
president claims it is the centerpiece of his war on terror. In fact, Iraq
was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our greatest
enemy, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. Invading Iraq has created a
crisis of historic proportions and, if we do not change course, there is the
prospect of a war with no end in sight."
- President Bush misled us about the reasons for the war
before it occurred: "He failed to tell the truth about the rationale for
going to war. And he failed to tell the truth about the burden this war
would impose on our soldiers and our citizens. By one count, the president
offered 23 different rationales for this war."
- President Bush is still misleading people about Iraq,
painting an optimistic picture directly contradicted by his own intelligence
officials: "In June, the president declared, 'The Iraqi people have
their country back.' Just last week, he told us: 'This country is headed
toward democracy. Freedom is on the march.' But the Administration's own
official intelligence estimate, given to the president last July, tells a
very different story. According to press reports, the intelligence estimate
totally contradicts what the president is saying to the American people."
- Bush went to war for ideological reasons and
consistently misjudged the situation on the ground: "This president was
in denial. He hitched his wagon to the ideologues who surround him,
filtering out those who disagreed, including leaders of his own party and
the uniformed military. The result is a long litany of misjudgments with
terrible consequences. The administration told us we'd be greeted as
liberators. They were wrong. They told us not to worry about looting or the
sorry state of Iraq's infrastructure. They were wrong. They told us we had
enough troops to provide security and stability, defeat the insurgents,
guard the borders and secure the arms depots. They were wrong. They told us
we could rely on exiles like Ahmed Chalabi to build political legitimacy.
They were wrong. They told us we would quickly restore an Iraqi civil
service to run the country and a police force and army to secure it. They
were wrong. In Iraq, this administration has ! consistently over-promised
and under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an
absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the president
has held no one accountable, including himself."
- John Kerry has a four-point plan to fix our Iraq policy:
- "First, the president has to get the
promised international support so our men and women in uniform don't
have to go it alone. It is late; the president must respond by
moving this week to gain and regain international support. The president
should convene a summit meeting of the world's major powers and Iraq's
neighbors, this week, in New York, where many leaders will attend the
U.N. General Assembly. He should insist that they make good on that U.N.
resolution. He should offer potential troop contributors specific, but
critical roles, in training Iraqi security personnel and securing Iraq's
borders. He should give other countries a stake in Iraq's future by
encouraging them to help develop Iraq's oil resources and by letting
them bid on contracts instead of locking them out of the reconstruction
- "Second, the president must get serious about
training Iraqi security forces. The president should urgently expand
the security forces training program inside and outside Iraq. He should
strengthen the vetting of recruits, double classroom training time, and
require follow-on field training. He should recruit thousands of
qualified trainers from our allies, especially those who have no troops
in Iraq. He should press our NATO allies to open training centers in
their countries. And he should stop misleading the American people with
phony, inflated numbers."
- "Third, the president must carry out a
reconstruction plan that finally brings tangible benefits to the Iraqi
people. One year ago, the administration asked for and received $18
billion to help the Iraqis and relieve the conditions that contribute to
the insurgency. Today, less than a $1 billion of those funds have
actually been spent. I said at the time that we had to rethink our
policies and set standards of accountability. Now we're paying the
price. Now, the president should look at the whole reconstruction
package, draw up a list of high visibility, quick impact projects, and
cut through the red tape. He should use more Iraqi contractors and
workers, instead of big corporations like Halliburton. He should stop
paying companies under investigation for fraud or corruption. And he
should fire the civilians in the Pentagon responsible for mismanaging
the reconstruction effort."
- "Fourth, the president must take immediate, urgent, essential
steps to guarantee the promised elections can be held next year. If
the president would move in this direction, if he would bring in more
help from other countries to provide resources and forces, train the
Iraqis to provide their own security, develop a reconstruction plan that
brings real benefits to the Iraqi people, and take the steps necessary
to hold credible elections next year -- we could begin to withdraw U.S.
forces starting next summer and realistically aim to bring all our
troops home within the next four years."
did not give
him a chance to implement this strategy!