Thursday, October 14, 2004

Whose the flip-flopper

Well of course we know that's Bush who has had more positions on the reason for invading Iraq than you can find in the Kama Sutra. Kerry on the other hand, may have been equivocal, but he has consistently been equivocal from at least 2002 until today. For example, here are excerpts from his speech to the Senate prior to voting for the resolution authorizing the potential use of force in Iraq in October of 2002:


October 9, 2002
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First part of speech deleted

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This statement left no doubt that the casus belli for the United States will be Iraq's failure to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction. I would have preferred that the President agree to the approach drafted by Senators Biden and Lugar because that resolution would authorize the use of force for the explicit purpose of disarming Iraq and countering the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

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And I believe they made it clear that if the United States operates through the U.N., and through the Security Council, they--all of them--will also bear responsibility for the aftermath of rebuilding Iraq and for the joint efforts to do what we need to do as a consequence of that enforcement. I talked to Secretary General Kofi Annan at the end of last week and again felt a reiteration of the seriousness with which the United Nations takes this and that they will respond.

If the President arbitrarily walks away from this course of action--without good cause or reason--the legitimacy of any subsequent action by the United States against Iraq will be challenged by the American people and the international community. And I would vigorously oppose the President doing so.

When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security and that of our allies in the Persian Gulf region. I will vote yes because I believe it is the best way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. 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.

In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days--to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.

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.

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In voting to grant the President the authority, I am not giving him carte blanche to run roughshod over every country that poses or may pose some kind of potential threat to the United States. Every nation has the right to act preemptively, if it faces an imminent and grave threat, for its self-defense under the standards of law. The threat we face today with Iraq does not meet that test yet. I emphasize "yet." Yes, it is grave because of the deadliness of Saddam Hussein's arsenal and the very high probability that he might use these weapons one day if not disarmed. But it is not imminent, and no one in the CIA, no intelligence briefing we have had suggests it is imminent. None of our intelligence reports suggest that he is about to launch an attack.

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The argument for going to war against Iraq is rooted in enforcement of the international community's demand that he disarm. It is not rooted in the doctrine of preemption. Nor is the grant of authority in this resolution an acknowledgment that Congress accepts or agrees with the President's new strategic doctrine of preemption. Just the opposite. This resolution clearly limits the authority given to the President to use force in Iraq, and Iraq only, and for the specific purpose of defending the United States against the threat posed by Iraq and enforcing relevant Security Council resolutions.

The definition of purpose circumscribes the authority given to the President to the use of force to disarm Iraq because only Iraq's weapons of mass destruction meet the two criteria laid out in this resolution.

Congressional action on this resolution is not the end of our national debate on how best to disarm Iraq. Nor does it mean we have exhausted all of our peaceful options to achieve this goal. There is much more to be done. The administration must continue its efforts to build support at the United Nations for a new, unfettered, unconditional weapons inspection regime. If we can eliminate the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction through inspections, whenever, wherever, and however we want them, including in palaces--and I am highly skeptical, given the full record, given their past practices, that we can necessarily achieve that--then we have an obligation to try that as the first course of action before we expend American lives in any further effort.

American success in the Persian Gulf war was enhanced by the creation of an international coalition. Our coalition partners picked up the overwhelming burden of the cost of that war. It is imperative that the administration continue to work to multilateralize the current effort against Iraq. If the administration's initiatives at the United Nations are real and sincere, other nations are more likely to invest, to stand behind our efforts to force Iraq to disarm, be it through a new, rigorous, no-nonsense program of inspection, or if necessary, through the use of force. That is the best way to proceed.

The United States, without question, has the military power to enter this conflict unilaterally. But we do need friends. We need logistical support such as bases, command and control centers, overflight rights from allies in the region. And most importantly, we need to be able to successfully wage the war on terror simultaneously. That war on terror depends more than anything else on the sharing of intelligence. That sharing of intelligence depends more than anything else on the cooperation of countries in the region. If we disrupt that, we could disrupt the possibilities of the capacity of that war to be most effectively waged.

I believe the support from the region will come only if they are convinced of the credibility of our arguments and the legitimacy of our mission. The United Nations never has veto power over any measure the United States needs to take to protect our national security. But it is in our interest to try to act with our allies, if at all possible. And that should be because the burden of eliminating the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction should not be ours alone. It should not be the American people's alone.

If in the end these efforts fail, and if in the end we are at war, we will have an obligation, ultimately, to the Iraqi people with whom we are not at war. This is a war against a regime, mostly one man. So other nations in the region and all of us will need to help create an Iraq that is a place and a force for stability and openness in the region. That effort is going to be long term, costly, and not without difficulty, given Iraq's ethnic and religious divisions and history of domestic turbulence. In Afghanistan, the administration has given more lipservice than resources to the rebuilding effort. We cannot allow that to happen in Iraq, and we must be prepared to stay the course over however many years it takes to do it right.

The challenge is great: An administration which made nation building a dirty word needs to develop a comprehensive, Marshall-type plan, if it will meet the challenge. The President needs to give the American people a fairer and fuller, clearer understanding of the magnitude and long-term financial cost of that effort.

The international community's support will be critical because we will not be able to rebuild Iraq singlehandedly. We will lack the credibility and the expertise and the capacity. It is clear the Senate is about to give the President the authority he has requested sometime in the next days. Whether the President will have to use that authority depends ultimately on Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein has a choice: He can continue to defy the international community, or he can fulfill his longstanding obligations to disarm. He is the person who has brought the world to this brink of confrontation.

He is the dictator who can end the stalemate simply by following the terms of the agreement which left him in power.

By standing with the President, Congress would demonstrate our Nation is united in its determination to take away that arsenal, and we are affirming the President's right and responsibility to keep the American people safe. One of the lessons I learned from fighting in a very different war, at a different time, is we need the consent of the American people for our mission to be legitimate and sustainable. I do know what it means, as does Senator Hagel, to fight in a war where that consent is lost, where allies are in short supply, where conditions are hostile, and the mission is ill-defined. That is why I believe so strongly before one American soldier steps foot on Iraqi soil, the American people must understand completely its urgency. They need to know we put our country in the position of ultimate strength and that we have no options, short of war, to eliminate a threat we could not tolerate.

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