August 11, 2004
POLITICS: Bush's War Stump Speech
Here's President Bush's current stump speech on the war, which has a pretty good nutshell summary of why it all happened, and a good zinger at Kerry; I highlight some of the points the Administration hasn't really stressed enough in the past:
Before September the 11th, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America. He was defying the world. He was firing weapons at American pilots who were enforcing the world's sanctions. He had pursued and he had used weapons of mass destruction. He harbored terrorists. He invaded his neighbors. He subsidized the families of suicide bombers. He murdered tens of thousands of his own citizens. He was the source of great instability in the world's most volatile region.
After September the 11th we looked at all the threats of the world in a new light. One of the lessons of September the 11th is that America must take threats seriously before they fully materialize. (Applause.) We saw a threat. My administration looked at the intelligence and saw a threat. The United States Congress looked at the same intelligence; members of both political parties, including my opponent, looked at the intelligence and came to the same conclusion.
We went to the United Nations, which looked at the intelligence and demanded a full accounting of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, or face serious consequences. After 12 years of defiance, he again refused to comply. He deceived the weapons inspectors. So I had a choice to make: either forget the lessons of September the 11th and take the word of a madman who hated America, or defend this country. Given that choice, I will defend America. (Applause.)
Even though we did not find the stockpiles that we expected to find, removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right thing to do. (Applause.) Saddam Hussein had the capability to make weapons of mass destruction. And he could have passed that capability on to terrorist enemies. After September the 11th, that was a chance we could not afford to take. And America and the world are safer because Saddam Hussein sits in a prison cell. (Applause.)
And now -- and now, almost two years after he voted for the war in Iraq, and almost 220 days after switching positions to declare himself the anti-war candidate, my opponent has found a new nuance. He now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq. After months of questioning my motives and even my credibility, Senator Kerry now agrees with me that even though we have not found the stockpile of weapons we all believe were there, knowing everything we know today, he would have voted to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. I want to thank Senator Kerry for clearing that up. (Applause.)
Did Kerry really say it was the right decision to go into Iraq? No. What he said was that he wouldn't have voted to prevent Bush from going into Iraq. I can appreciate that position, because that's my position. (And I know that Kerry's position has been carefully pieced together to be everything to everyone and maintain a thread of self-consistency.) But there is a key distinction there. Did I oppose the war? No. Would I have gone to war if I were President? I don't know, but knowing there were no WMDs certainly doesn't make the case stronger.
And while it's not surprising, it's not really fair to criticize Kerry for agreeing with Bush. You'd be criticizing him if he disagreed with you, too, right? By the way, Mr. President, have you stopped beating your wife?
Kerry said giving the President the authority to go to war was the right thing to do.
Bush says this means he would've voted to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power.
As a lawyer, do you not see the distinction?
We all knew Bush didn't do nuance. But the difference here goes way beyond nuance.
I'm glad you're comfortable, and apparently happy, with Bush putting words into others mouths.
I think Bush was being charitable and assuming that Kerry had actually answered the question, but I accept the possibility you suggest - that Kerry was once again being evasive and not answering whether he would have removed Saddam from power.
Bush is full of crap and you are the one being charitable, Crank.
I'll grant you that Kerry is his own worst enemy on issues of clarity at times, but on this topic, he's been perfectly clear.
Kerry has said, time and time again, that his vote was to give the President leverage; War should have been the last resort; all other avenues (inspections, etc) exhausted; a REAL coalition built; and proper planning and troop strengths established before invading Iraq.
Bush: "he would have voted to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power"
Actually President Jackass, no one voted for that. As usual, Congress punted on declaring War as the Constitution requires, but again, Kerry specifically lobbied for the President to come back to Congress before invading. Kerry ended up supporting the resolution without that provision (and that's where I have a problem with Kerry).
Yeah, I know, he wanted to go a different route. At the end of the day, though, Kerry has to answer the question as if he had been the President: war to remove Saddam, or not? Let's say months went by and inspectors found no WMD but were convinced Saddam wasn't cooperating. Let's say Kerry moved more troops in, strong-armed the Turks, but the French and Germans and Russians wouldn't budge. War to remove Saddam, or not?
The man in the Oval Office has to answer that question. (Bush probably knows Kerry is fudging again and is trying to goad him into issuing yet another "I did not mean that statement to say answer the question") So, Giddy, Mr Furious - do you believe Kerry has answered that question? What do you think his answer is? The more people you ask, the more answers you seem to get.
Was there ever any doubt that the decision to go to war this time would be a decision to remove Saddam from power? Or that that was the purpose of the congressional authorization? Wasn’t the active pursuit of regime change in Iraq official U.S. government policy since 1998, as implemented by those devil-may-care hawks of the Clinton Adminstration?
What I’m also curious about is how Kerry can defend opposing the first Gulf War, when even the French were on our side and it is known that Saddam really was on the verge of going nuclear back then. With a nuclear-armed Saddam already occupying Kuwait, how would we have ever released that country from his grip? Which country might have been next?
I’m also curious as to his opinion on the unilateral, preemptive Israeli strike on the French-built Osirak reactor in 1981, which was condemned by most of the world, but which critically set Saddam’s nuclear pursuit back a decade.
Kerry's contention seems to be that a successful inspection process would have revealed that Saddam was no longer a threat. Granted, that only has weight now that we know there are no WMDs. If intrusive inspections were unsuccessful or being thwarted by Saddam, Kerry has said he would have been in a much better position with other countries (of significance) besides Britain to mount a more effective campaign to remove Saddam. And he would have done that.
Since you are asking a hypothetical/time machine question, it is also fair to include what we now know. My guess is that if inspections were able to determine that Saddam had no WMDs, we would not have gone in, because Kerry wouldn't have gone alone, and no one else would have joined us in a pre-emptive invasion without a threat. That's fine with me because Iraq was not a threat and it was a needless diversion of our forces from Afganistan and Iran and N Korea should have been the "rogue state" priorities.
It is my contention that Bush & Co. had a pretty good idea that there were no WMDs and invaded when they did before the UN could prove it.
Its not as simple as "War to remove Saddam or Not?"
If Saddam did not have WMD.... If Saddam was not a threat.... If stopping Saddam would not put an end to the actions of Al Qeada.... If toppling Saddam would create a breeding ground for terrorists... and if after all that the US would have to take on the burden of the costs of the war in both human and financial terms...
Then I'd imagine Kerry would answer "no" to War to remove Saddam.
But I guess that way of putting it would appear too ambiguous. You simply want Kerry to say "No, I would not have gone to War to stop Saddam."
To which you and many others would then reply "Ahhhh, typical mambsy pambsy soft on terrorism liberal democrat...can't trust the nation's safety to any of them."
Had Kerry not voted to give the President the authority to go to war the cry would've been the same...plus the added invective of "He didn't even give the President the opportunity to use the threat as leverage!"
Breeding ground for terrorists.
Global ill will towards the US.
Billions of US funds spent.
900+ US servicemen and women dead.
Whether or not I feel safe now is moot. The question is do I feel safer due to our actions in Iraq.
And my answer is a resounding "no".
Does Mr. Giddy never wonder why it is that he has to imagine how Kerry would answer a question which his opponent has asked him directly? Remember, the question included the qualifier "knowing what we know now", which takes account of Giddy's entire parade of "ifs". Yet even when generously presented the luxury of answering based on 20/20 hindsight-- a luxury obviously denied the man who had to make the actual decision-- Kerry can do nothing but dodge. Small wonder then that he also dodges the far more important question of what he'd do in Iraq going forward.
The Washington Post ran a big piece today on that paper’s alleged “failure” to uncover and suitably publicize that Saddam did not have the WMD capabilities that his underlings apparently told him he was developing or that U.S. intelligence understandably believed for over a decade that he was pursuing. At no point did they mention the inconvenient fact that the Clinton Administration shared the very same underlying assumptions as the Bush Administration. It should be a question of how one deals with gathering threats without, not with, the benefit of hindsight that should frame the campaign.
This debate is awash in revisionist history. As for Kerry: when he is presented with a fork in the road, he takes it. His “position” is a model of feckless indecisiveness and focus-group-guided national security policy.
On the one hand....
I gave the President the authority to go to war.
The President subsequently abused that authority by rushing into war.
Pretty simple. Even for a two-parter. No? Or is two parts too nuanced?
On the other hand....
As soon as I got the authority I went in guns a blasting!
Pretty simple as well. No?
Regardless, are we voting on simple answers to complex questions?
If so, Bush is your guy.
May God be with us!