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

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 in order to build alliances and 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 many 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...


KERRY: ... with just a simple stonewalling. It's just amazing.

MATTHEWS: Well, good boys don't — good guys, as you know, don't always win. And for all those years after the Persian Gulf war, President Bush and the world tried to get this guy — this guy — having let him off the hook in 1991, to make sure he didn't produce any weapons of mass destruction. The world got bored. The world got weak. They softened up. We stuck to it. Eventually we — under President Clinton, we pulled back. What assures you now we have the — the toughness to go in and insist on weapons inspections?

KERRY: September 11. That's it, September 11. I mean, that's changed the dynamic of this country, and I think people's perceptions of what people are willing to do. And when you look at what we've been finding in Afghanistan, when you look at what our intelligence community is laying on the table for us in the Senate and the House to contemplate, there's no question in my mind that Saddam Hussein has to be dealt with. Now, the question is how? I don't think it begins with a military invasion at all. I don't think that even has to be on the table. I believe his regime — he can be overthrown. I think it can happen internally. I think a lot of people are prepared to help. And I think we have to begin that process.

MATTHEWS: If the president called you in and briefed you, and said, "As the senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I'm going to tell you something. Tomorrow morning, we're going in big into Baghdad. We're going to drop 50,000 troops in there. We're coming in with heavy armaments. We're going to take that guy out. We're going to remove that government, put in one that — that we like, like we did in Afghanistan," what would you say?

KERRY: Tomorrow morning?


KERRY: If he was going to do it tomorrow morning?


KERRY: I'd say, "I think you're making a mistake, Mr. President, just to do it that way. I think we can do it without that kind of risk or loss of life or with the down side that might occur with respect to other relationships we have in the region." I mean, we have Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the crisis with Israel-Palestinian relations at this moment, the peace process, lack thereof and, of course, the very fragile situation for Jordan. That's just not a wise first move.

[Hardball, February 5, 2002]

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