Kerry on Iraq War, Honest, Consistent, and Right
Republican Smear Video Distorts the Truth
Republican Smear Video Distorts the Truth

Anatomy of a Smear Video

If the GOP is so sure George Bush is doing a good job in Iraq, why are they working so hard to confuse people about what John Kerry said?

The Republican National Committee's "Flipper" video uses misleading editing and commentary to persuade people that John Kerry has taken many different positions on Iraq. Once you see through the simple trick that was used, you'll see that the reality is very different than what the RNC is selling. We present all of the clips of Kerry from the Flipper video along with the original context for each statement. You can see for yourself that Kerry is consistent, and moreover, that he doesn't settle for easy "solutions" that create more problems than they solve. His approach is to take a hard-nosed look at the realities of the situation and think strategically to find the right solution.

Kerry's position was straightforward: He argued that Saddam Hussein was a serious problem, and that the U.S. needed to get tough with him but that we needed to do it skillfully: working with allies to pressure Saddam to accept inspections and encouraging forces opposed to Saddam within Iraq. Kerry argued that it wouldn't be smart to rush to war or to go it alone.

The "Flipper" video first shows only half of Kerry's position: clips of Kerry talking about Saddam as a serious problem, but none of his recommendations. You're supposed to assume that Kerry was gung-ho on going to war. The next set of clips focuses on the other half: his insistence that the war George Bush started was not a good solution. You're supposed to believe this was a sudden switch. In fact, he'd been saying the same things all along. The contrast between what Kerry actually said and what the RNC wants you to think he said is night and day.

The distortion in this video is so extreme, it's clear that the RNC doesn't want people to know what Kerry really said or what skills he brings to bear in dealing with major security issues. What are they afraid of? And don't we deserve honest debate about the candidates' views on matters that affect our security?

The title card for the GOP video is accurate: John Kerry viewed Saddam Hussein's pursuit of WMDs as a serious problem. He also said a great deal about the best way to handle Saddam; this did not include launching a hasty or unnecessary invasion.


Kerry stresses building alliances to deal with terrorism

The video gives you only one line, which shows that Kerry took the threat of Hussein seriously. They're implying that he wanted to go to war in Iraq, but that's not what he's saying. The context is a discussion of terrorism, and Kerry is saying we need to work harder to get the international community to crack down on it. Kerry isn't talking about invading Iraq. He's making a case for building alliances to deal with global terrorism.

BORGER: Do we have any information that chemical and biological attacks were part of this [September 11th]? We got news this morning about the crop-dusting manuals.

KERRY: No, at least I don't and not to my knowledge do any of my colleagues. But it is something that we know — for instance, Saddam Hussein has used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, and there is some evidence of their [terrorists'] efforts to try to secure these kinds of weapons and even test them. That's why it's so vital that we get the global community to be part of this effort to begin to make their [terrorists'] lives miserable.

[Face the Nation, September 23, 2001]

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Kerry talks about how to pressure Hussein to accept inspections

First the GOP video quotes just one line, to create the false impression that Kerry is talking about why we need to go to war with Iraq. Then it jumps to a discussion of the need to put pressure on Saddam. You're supposed to think that Kerry supports military action against Iraq. What he's really talking about: How to force Saddam to accept inspections and how to encourage forces opposed to Saddam within Iraq.

O'REILLY: How would you put enough pressure on him to open up inspections again?

KERRY: Well, I'll reinvigorate that process as step number one, and I think the administration is now suddenly starting to move in that direction. I think you have to work our allies sufficiently to pull that component of the effort back together. But the second thing I would do, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it, is back opposition more openly, and do it in a way that begins to put a counterinsurgency in the country itself... The important thing is that Saddam Hussein and the world knows that we think Saddam Hussein is essentially out of synch with the times. He is and has acted like a terrorist, and he has engaged in activities that are unacceptable.



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Kerry says we need to deal seriously with terrorism but we don't have license to invade Iraq

The clip is edited to suggest that Kerry meant we have to invade Iraq after we get done in Afghanistan. He actually said the exact opposite: He said that we don't have license to invade Iraq without a link to 9/11, and again he talks about encouraging opposition to Hussein within Iraq. His point is that there are many ways to pressure Hussein without going to war.

KING: What about enhancing this war, Senator Kerry. What are your thoughts on going on further than Afghanistan, all terrorist places.

KERRY: Oh, I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally. This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination. And I think the president has made that clear. I think we have made that clear. Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, Saddam Hussein. I think we.

KING: We should go to Iraq?

KERRY: Well, that — what do you and how you choose to do it, we have a lot of options. Absent smoking gun evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the immediate events of September 11, the president doesn't have the authorization to proceed forward there. But we clearly are — he ought to proceed to put pressure on him with respect to the weapons of mass destruction. I think we should be supporting an opposition. There are other ways for us, clandestinely and otherwise, to put enormous pressure on him and I think we should do it.

[CNN Larry King Live, December 14, 2001]

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Kerry talks about the importance of pushing inspections

The GOP video is cut to imply that Kerry said there's no point to doing inspections, when in fact he said the exact opposite. Kerry says that even though Hussein may think the inspections are just a game, inspections are the right way to proceed, and that it's necessary to go through the right process, both in order to build alliances and to unite the U.S. in the effort to deal effectively with Saddam. He argues forcefully that a hasty invasion of Iraq would be a mistake, and that there are other ways to get Saddam Hussein out of power.

Notice also how the GOP video misuses the reference to September 11th. You might think Kerry said that September 11th gives us license to go to war with Iraq. In fact, he was talking about what will give us the resolve and toughness to force Saddam to accept weapons inspections. Look at the discussion in the middle and near the end, where Kerry says clearly that we don't even need to be talking about a military invasion at this point, because there are plenty of other ways to deal with Saddam.

MATTHEWS: Do you think that the problem we have with Iraq is real and it can be reduced to a diplomatic problem? Can we get this guy to accept inspections of his weapons of mass destruction, potentially, and get past a possible war with him?

KERRY: Outside chance, Chris. Could it be done? The answer is yes. But he would view himself only as buying time and playing a game, in my judgment. Do we have to go through that process? The answer is yes. We're precisely doing that. And I think that's what Colin Powell did today...

MATTHEWS: Call his bluff.

KERRY: Well, if it is a bluff. I think you have to begin there, no matter what. Whether Saddam Hussein began that process today or we begin it, you have to put the challenge of the inspections on the line. Why? Because that's the outstanding issue unresolved from the war. That's what he agreed to do, and that's where we left off with Ambassador Butler and his — his rejecting it. I mean, it's astounding to me, frankly, that our country, as well as the United Nations, have allowed these years to go by with...


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Kerry says that we can't let Hussein push us around and talks about strengthening bonds with our allies

The video is edited to imply that Kerry said we should ignore our allies and go ahead without them. He's actually saying the opposite: that we shouldn't back down from tyrants because of fear, but rather provide leadership, and that we need to deal with the issues that have strained our alliances so we'll be in a position of strength to deal with Saddam. He says that a lot of things have caused envy and strain in the relationships between the U.S. and its allies, and that if we deal with some of those other things, we'll be in a better position.


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Kerry strongly warns that the Administration is not laying the proper groundwork for what it proposes to do in Iraq. He says that unless this is addressed, they could destabilize the region and endanger our security.

The GOP video gives you just the first sentence from this passage, to imply that Kerry enthusiastically supports the Administration's program. In fact, he's demanding that the Administration pursue a much more deliberate and careful course in Iraq, with the aid of allies.

"Now as to Iraq: I agree completely with this Administration's goal of a regime change in Iraq — Saddam Hussein is a renegade and outlaw who turned his back on the tough conditions of his surrender put in place by the United Nations in 1991. But the Administration's rhetoric has far exceeded their plans or their groundwork. In fact, their single-mindedness, secrecy and high-blown rhetoric has alienated our allies and threatened to unravel the stability of the region. One of the lessons I learned as a soldier and as a Senator — when it comes to war our goal must not just be regime change — we have done that in Afghanistan without securing the peace — our goal, the very cornerstone of our foreign policy, must always be lasting peace. This Administration has offered no plan for what happens after we topple Saddam's regime. No one disagrees that even if we go it alone in Iraq, we will win and we will replace Saddam; but what this Administration has failed to do is make their case on the international stage or to the American people for the rationale of starting the war or the means of ending it. We cannot afford to put the security of our allies, the region and ultimately our own at risk for the vague offerings we have heard to date. We must do better." — John Kerry, Remarks at the 2002 DLC National Conversation, NY, July 29, 2002

By the time the vote for the authorization of the use of force was taken, the President had assured Congress that he was committed to pushing for inspections and working through the UN Security Council if at all possible, specifically noting that if it came to military action, they would then be committed to staying with us through the aftermath rather than making us rebuild Iraq on our own. Kerry referred to these assurances in the statement he gave on October 9, 2002, two days before the vote on the authorization to use force. The President's insistence on rushing to war after all has resulted in the mess we currently face in Iraq.

Kerry says the Bush administration has not made the case for going to war

The GOP video gives you one sentence to create the false impression that Kerry said we should go to war by ourselves. Actually, he's saying that it's too early to decide to go to war alone. Here's the same sentence in its original context:

"If Saddam Hussein is unwilling to bend to the international community's already existing order, then he will have invited enforcement, even if that enforcement is mostly at the hands of the United States, a right we retain even if the Security Council fails to act. But until we have properly laid the groundwork and proved to our fellow citizens and our allies that we really have no other choice, we are not yet at the moment of unilateral decision-making in going to war against Iraq." — John Kerry, We Still Have a Choice on Iraq, New York Times, September 6, 2002

That paragraph is the conclusion of Kerry's essay. The final point he is making is that we do not need to rush to war. A couple of the earlier paragraphs are especially useful to understand Kerry's position:

"Regime change in Iraq is a worthy goal. But regime change by itself is not a justification for going to war. Absent a Qaeda connection, overthrowing Saddam Hussein — the ultimate weapons-inspection enforcement mechanism should be the last step, not the first. Those who think that the inspection process is merely a waste of time should be reminded that legitimacy in the conduct of war, among our people and our allies, is not a waste, but an essential foundation of success.

"If we are to put American lives at risk in a foreign war, President Bush must be able to say to this nation that we had no choice, that this was the only way we could eliminate a threat we could not afford to tolerate." — John Kerry, We Still Have a Choice on Iraq, New York Times, September 6, 2002

Kerry argues that we can't let Iraq distract us from Al Qaeda

The GOP video is edited to give just the part about Saddam being a serious problem; the implication is that Kerry must be all for going to war, but that's not what he's saying. At this point they've given us 9 quotes to paint a false picture that Kerry has jumped on the pro-war bandwagon, when in fact Kerry is saying over and over that we should not go to war except as a last resort. In this example, Kerry is saying that while we need to take Hussein seriously, we also need to keep our eye on the ball in terms of Al Qaeda.

"I would disagree with John McCain that it's the actual weapons of mass destruction he may use against us, it's what he may do in another invasion of Kuwait or in a miscalculation about the Kurds or a miscalculation about Iran or particularly Israel. Those are the things that — that I think present the greatest danger. He may even miscalculate and slide these weapons off to terrorist groups to invite them to be a surrogate to use them against the United States. It's the miscalculation that poses the greatest threat. But I also think — and — and this is another very — you haven't heard this, I think, in the course of the last week, we cannot allow this discussion of Iraq to hide the original purpose of our mobilization, which is Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, and we particularly cannot allow it to shift off of the debate in this country a huge number of unattended issues. Our economy is hurting badly. " — John Kerry, CBS Face the Nation, September 15, 2002

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Kerry talks about the threat of force as part of a strategy to force Saddam to accept inspections

The GOP video quotes only one line -- in which Kerry affirms that the president has the authority to act to defend the country --, to imply that Kerry thought President Bush should take us to war immediately. Of course, Kerry has said all along that the president has the authority to act to defend the country. Kerry is not recommending that we go it alone, however; Kerry is talking about what kind of resolution the Administration should take to the UN in order to get the UN Security Council on board.

The exchange after the quoted part is also interesting, as Kerry notes that only with the threat of force is there any hope of getting Hussein to allow rigorous inspections. This is what he's said for the last two years: threatening the use of force was a part of getting the inspections going again.  Of course, the GOP wants you to think that when he cast his vote on October 11, 2002, he was in favor of going to war (or that he voted Yes just because it was politically convenient). We can see from Kerry's statements that he was always thinking in terms of more options than just “war/no war,” and that he viewed the threat of force as a vital part of the strategy to get Saddam to comply with weapons inspections.


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Kerry continues to criticize the rush to war

Now the GOP video jumps eight months ahead, to give the false impression that the last thing we heard was Kerry pushing for invasion of Iraq. As you've seen, so far he has said the exact opposite: That we need to be tough with Hussein, but there are a lot of ways to get tough without invading Iraq, and that we need to be careful not to let Iraq distract us from Al Qaeda. In the months and weeks just before the next clip, Kerry spoke out repeatedly against rushing to war.

"I believe Saddam Hussein is a threat. I do not want to tolerate this man, unfettered, unrestricted, developing weapons of mass destruction. But I do not believe the threat is so imminent today that we have to rush to war." [Chicago Tribune, 1/24/2003]

"I firmly believe that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator who must be disarmed. But I also believe that a heavy-handed approach will leave us to carry the burden almost alone.” [3/14/03, Speech to the California State Democratic Convention]

Senator John F. Kerry said yesterday that "a failure of diplomacy of a massive order" by the Bush administration has left the country on the brink of war with Iraq, with an unnecessarily small group of fighting partners, facing criticism from the United Nations and longstanding allies, and without the strongest possible support of the American people. ... "It's the way they have conducted the diplomacy that has compounded this problem, split the UN, split the NATO, left the world wondering with questions, engaged in a more preemptive effort than was necessary," Kerry said. "We could have moved from a position of strength, in my judgment, and I think it represents a failure of diplomacy of a massive order, and that is what war is: War is the failure of diplomacy." [Boston Globe, 3/19/2003]

"I never doubted our capacity to go in and kick Iraq's and Saddam Hussein's butt," said Kerry. "What I wish was we'd had more people involved to share the costs. I want to see us bring people in still." [Boston Herald, 4/11/2003]


Kerry says he has reservations about the method, but supports the decision to disarm Saddam

Kerry's statement here may seem somewhat confusing — he says he supported the decision to launch the invasion and yet he wanted to give diplomacy a greater chance, which means he didn't fully support the decision. The interviewer has presented the issue as a yes/no question, and Kerry's responding by breaking it into two different questions: on the method and the timing of the disarming of Saddam, he would have preferred to give diplomacy a greater chance, but as for the decision to disarm Saddam, he supported that, and he emphasizes that he supports the fact that we did disarm him. This isn't an especially clear statement, but he's still making the same distinction he's made from the beginning, between agreeing on the goal and disagreeing on how to get there.

Note also that Kerry talks about his support for disarming Saddam -- rather than talking about "overthrowing" him. While Kerry had always supported the goal of regime change, he did not support going to war just for that goal -- he was in favor of using other methods to achieve it. All along, he has insisted that disarming Saddam would be the only reason strong enough for going to war. It's clear that his support here is based on his belief (at the time) that the U.S. has prevented Saddam from using weapons of mass destruction. This was before it was shown that the claims about Saddam having WMDs were false. This is the most pro-war statement presented in the entire video — the only one in which Kerry gives more emphasis to his support for disarming Saddam than to his reservations about how it was done.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Senator Kerry, the first question goes to you. On March 19th, President Bush ordered General Tommy Franks to execute the invasion of Iraq. Was that the right decision at the right time?

KERRY: George, I said at the time I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein. And when the president made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him.

[ABC Democratic Primary Debate, 5/3/2003]

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Kerry affirms that the President has the authority to defend the nation but says that President Bush broke his word on how he would handle Iraq

The Republican video cuts Kerry's comments to just one sentence, "And the fact is in the resolution that we passed, we did not empower the President to do regime change." This sounds bizarre until you know what's going on here. In a nutshell, Kerry is saying that Congress didn't authorize President Bush to go to war solely for the purpose of regime change, if regime change was not needed to get the WMDs. If the U.S. could disarm Saddam by other means (such as inspections), then the resolution did not authorize regime change.That is in fact what the resolution says, and Kerry is saying exactly the same thing he said on the Senate floor on October 9, 2002, two days before the vote to authorize the use of force.

In this context, Kerry is saying that the President already had the power to defend the nation, and that Congress didn't give him the power to do regime change (unless regime change was necessary in order to get the WMDs), so Congress didn't give the President a blank check for war. They only empowered him to enforce the UN resolutions concerning the disarming of Saddam.


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Kerry says the same thing he's been saying all along: Rushing to war and going with few allies were bad ideas

By now, the GOP video editors are hoping that you've been convinced that Kerry was once gung-ho on rushing to war (or that he was pretending to be on the pro-war bandwagon when it was popular). Now they want to convince you that he's changing his mind (or pretending to). In fact, he's just saying more of the same thing he's been saying from the beginning, and his explanation of his position is 100% consistent with what he said in the Senate before the vote on the authorization of the use of force.

"Overseas, George Bush has led and misled us on a course at odds with 200 years of our history. He has squandered the goodwill of the world after September 11th, and he has lost the respect and the influence that we need to make our country safe. We are seeing the peril in Iraq everyday. I voted to threaten the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations. I believe that was right, but it was wrong to rush to war without building a true international coalition and with no plan to win the peace. So long as Iraq remains an American intervention and not an international undertaking, we will face increasing danger and mounting casualties. Being flown to an aircraft carrier and saying, 'Mission accomplished' doesn't end a war." — John Kerry's Candidacy Announcement Speech, September 2, 2003

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Kerry criticizes the rush to war and says Bush should have let the inspections proceed, as Kerry had said from the beginning

Of course, you're supposed to think that this is a new position, rather than more of the same thing he's been saying all along.

"But the president and his advisors did not do almost anything correctly in the walk-up to the war. They rushed to war. They were intent on going to war. They did not give legitimacy to the inspections. We could have still been doing inspections even today, George." — John Kerry, This Week, October 12, 2003


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Kerry says he won't try to block the troops from receiving funding and calls on the Administration to pursue a more responsible course in Iraq

For the complete story of the $87 billion, see the Q&A section. Essentially, Kerry refused to rubberstamp a bad funding bill and instead called on President Bush to pursue more responsible policies in Iraq (changing course to bring in more allies) and to be more responsible about funding (taking a pay-as-you-go approach instead of trying to hide the cost of the war by loading it onto the deficit). Kerry promised not to leave the troops without funding, and he didn't. Senate votes are not done by secret ballot; everyone announces their votes in advance, and everyone knows from the get-go whether a bill will pass. Kerry knew that the bill, as bad as it was, was going to pass with many votes to spare, so he was free to vote his conscience without the funding being delayed by so much as a day. They didn't need his vote to ensure that the troops got their funds.

Meanwhile, President Bush had threatened to veto the entire bill if he didn't get exactly what he wanted (e.g. that no part of the funding should be a loan which Iraq would pay back to us; instead, Bush insisted that U.S. taxpayers had to carry the full load). Kerry didn't take any action that could actually delay the funding, but President Bush, for all his bluster about supporting the troops, was perfectly willing to torpedo the bill himself.

"I don't think any United States senator is going to abandon our troops and recklessly leave Iraq to whatever follows as a result of simply cutting and running. That's irresponsible. What is responsible is for the administration to do this properly now. And I am laying out the way in which the administration could unite the American people, could bring other countries to the table, and I think could give the American people a sense that they're on the right track. There's a way to do this properly. But I don't think anyone in the Congress is going to not give our troops ammunition, not give our troops the ability to be able to defend themselves. We're not going to cut and run and not do the job." — John Kerry, CBS Face The Nation, September 14, 2003


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Kerry says again that he's against the way President Bush handled Saddam, and talks about the fact that there was a right way to do it

The GOP video cuts his comments down to nothing more than "I am -- yes " (i.e. an anti-war candidate) and leaves out his explanation that he means he was in favor of a different strategy for dealing with Saddam, in which military force either would not have been used or, if it had become necessary at some point, would have been used in a very different way than the way George Bush used it. The distortion here is so severe that Hardball ran a segment on it in which they showed what Kerry actually said and confronted a GOP representative over the distortion. Notice how Matthew Dowd, the Bush campaign strategist, further misquotes the question and Kerry's answer in his response.

Hardball Video

MATTHEWS: Do you think you belong to that category of candidates who more or less are unhappy with this war, the way it's been fought, along with General Clark, along with Howard Dean and not necessarily in companionship politically on the issue of the war with people like Lieberman, Edwards and Gephardt? Are you one of the anti-war candidates?

KERRY: I am -- Yes, in the sense that I don't believe the president took us to war as he should have, yes, absolutely. Do I think this president violated his promises to America? Yes, I do, Chris. Was there a way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable? You bet there was, and we should have done it right.

[MSNBC Hardball, 1/6/2004]

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Kerry explains that he voted Yes on one bill and No on another

The GOP video is cut to give you the impression that he's making no sense at all; actually, Kerry was talking about a perfectly simple thing: He voted Yes for a bill that would pay for the funding fairly and responsibly, and No for the unfair, irresponsible bill. For the full story, see the explanation of the vote on the $87 billion above and in the Q&A section. The GOP video implies he's flip-flopping within a single sentence, when he's actually talking about two different bills.

The fact that Kerry made an earnest attempt to help his audience understand what happened, while the Bush campaign responds with mockery and an effort to confuse people, says a great deal about the different philosophies of the presidential candidates.


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Kerry explains why he voted No on a different war

The GOP video is trying to confuse two different wars. Later in the video, in fact, they refer to "the war" in two separate sentences, once referring to the 1991 Gulf War and once referring to the current war, as if they were the same war ("Kerry voted against the war [the Gulf War in 1991] before he voted for the war [the war in Iraq in 2002]." The situation in 1991 was very different than in 2002. Iraq was not at that time believed to have WMDs that could be used against the U.S., and Kerry thought there were other means to get Iraq out of Kuwait. The situation in 2002 was different: Kerry thought that the security of the U.S. was at issue and that the threat of force was needed in order to disarm Saddam.


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Kerry expresses disappointment that France and Russia aren’t willing to threaten force in order to get Iraq to comply with UN demands

The GOP video (of a clip from 1997) is edited to suggest that Kerry sees no hope of cooperation from France or Russia and wants to proceed without them. Actually, he's saying that the fact that they voted to condemn Iraq's behavior is a step in the right direction and that they can eventually be brought on board to back up that condemnation with a threat of force. Elsewhere in the discussion he talks about ways to persuade France to back the U.S.

KERRY: Well, John, you're correct that this resolution is less than we would have liked. I don't think anybody can deny that we would have liked it to have threatened force and we would have liked it to carry the term serious consequences will flow. On the other hand, the coalition is together. I mean the fact is there is a unanimous statement by the security council and the United Nations that there has to be immediate, unrestricted, unconditional access to the sites. That's very strong language. And it also references the underlying resolution on which the use of force is based. So clearly the allies may not like it, and I think that's our great concern — where's the backbone of Russia, where's the backbone of France, where are they in expressing their condemnation of such clearly illegal activity, but in a sense, they're now climbing into a box and they will have enormous difficulty not following up on this if there is not compliance by Iraq.

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Kerry says Hussein is a serious threat, we need to get tough with him and pressure him to submit to inspections, and ultimately look to get him out of power, but that we do not need to go straight to war

The GOP video first cuts one clip to suggest that Kerry is ready to go to war immediately, as he talks about being ready to use ground troops if necessary. But the very next thing he said was “I don’t think you have to start there” -- that is, you don't have to start with ground troops. Of course, that line was cut out of the GOP video. Kerry says Clinton proposes bombing Iraq if it does not comply, and Kerry questions whether that will be effective in the long run, because it probably won't succeed in opening Iraq up to inspections. His point is that the Administration needs to deal with Saddam in a more serious way -- first getting weapons inspections going and ultimately doing everything possible to get him our of power -- but he does not advocate invading Iraq, because that isn't necessary, at least not as a first step. There are other methods available for disrupting Saddam's regime.

KERRY: I think there is a disconnect between the depth of the threat that Saddam Hussein presents to the world and what we are at the moment talking about doing. If indeed he is as significant a threat, as you heard him characterized by the president [Clinton], the secretary of state, the secretary of defense — can threaten London, threaten the peace of the Middle East, that he is really a war criminal who is already at war with the civilized world — then we have to be prepared to go the full distance, which is to do everything possible to disrupt his regime and to encourage the forces of democracy.


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Kerry says he voted to give the president authority, rather than "voting for the war," and that President Bush made a mistake when he took us to war

The little snippet they give you here sounds unclear, because Kerry says he disagrees with "the way he [Bush] went to war," which might make you think he approves of the war but just disagrees on how many tanks or helicopters were used. The GOP video cuts out the part where he was very clear and focuses on the part where he insists that he's already answered the question (because he has). In the part the video doesn't show you, Kerry says clearly that he is against the war because the way Bush took us to war was a mistake. In other words, Kerry is against the fact that we went to war almost single handedly and that it was not done as a last resort. He would not have been against any military action, if it was required, but he thinks Bush made a mistake by taking us to war the way he did.

After the point where the GOP clip ends, John Edwards cuts in and explains that if Kerry had been president and given the same authority as George Bush, we would have kept the inspections going and found out there were no WMDs, and so we would not be at war. Kerry nods in agreement. His position is perfectly clear, though the interviewer seems confused as to why Kerry would still vote to affirm the president's authority if he didn't want to go to war.


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Kerry re-affirms that he would have voted to give the President authority to use force even if he knew what he knows now; he does NOT say he would have invaded Iraq

Here you're supposed to jump to the conclusion that Kerry is saying he too would have invaded Iraq, and even many people in the media made that mistake when Kerry first made this statement. All Kerry said was that he still would have voted to give President Bush the big stick he needed to force Saddam to accept weapons inspections, and that he thinks this is an appropriate authority for a president to have. He also says again that he would have used the authority effectively — i.e. to get Saddam to back down and disarm, not to drag us into war — and asks a number of questions about President Bush's mishandling of the situation. In short, Kerry is pointing out once again that he did his job as a Senator by affirming the President's authority in the situation, and asking why President Bush botched his job so badly.

"Yes, I would have voted for the authority [to use force]. I believe it's the right authority for a president to have. But I would have used that authority, as I have said throughout this campaign, effectively. I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has.

"And my question to President Bush is, Why did he rush to war without a plan to win the peace? Why did he rush to war on faulty intelligence and not do the hard work necessary to give America the truth? Why did he mislead America about how he would go to war? Why has he not brought other countries to the table in order to support American troops in the way that we deserve and relieve a pressure from the American people?" — John Kerry, Inside Politics, August 9, 2004

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