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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Toronto Star on Kerry's Iraq position

Editorial excerpt:
Kerry's vote in 2002, while misguided, was defensible. Bush had exaggerated Saddam's threat, and had won over 7 in 10 Americans to the view that the Iraq war was justified.

But since then, the U.N. has been vindicated. Saddam was contained; there were no ties to the 9/11 terrorists; and Iraq had no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

That leaves most Americans feeling misled, or duped. They can see the damage to U.S. prestige internationally. The loss of more than 1,000 American and allied lives, and 16,000 Iraqi lives . A $200-billion cost.

And they see no easy exit.

All this is baggage Bush should carry to the polls, alone. But Kerry has just re-endorsed his misguided policy, if not its clumsy delivery.

No wonder Kerry is struggling to pull ahead in a race with a president who has not delivered promised jobs and who is seen as a friend of the rich and powerful.

Practical politics undoubtedly prompted Kerry's reply. He is loath to admit he cast a foolish vote in 2002. He does not want to alienate voters who were similarly duped, and who are not keen to be reminded of it. And he must not be seen as "soft" on Saddam.

But Kerry comes off looking like "Bush lite" on Iraq, rather than as a candidate with better values and a sounder program. He seems weak. Muddled. Has he learned nothing from a slew of American investigations that have exposed the sloppiness of U.S. intelligence and the shabbiness of the rationale for war?

This is a letdown for American voters who yearn for a real alternative, and a healthier direction. It is not good news for the world, either.