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
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']
[Face the Nation, September 23, 2001]
click image to play video
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
O'REILLY: How would you put enough pressure on him to open up
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.
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
KING: What about enhancing this war, Senator Kerry. What are
your thoughts on going on further than Afghanistan, all terrorist
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]
click image to play video
Kerry talks about the importance of pushing
The GOP video is cut to imply that Kerry said there's
no point to doing inspections, when in facthe 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
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.
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
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
"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,
Kerry argues that we can't let Iraq distract us from
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
click image to play video
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.
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]
click image to play video
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.
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
click image to play video
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
click image to play video
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
click image to play video
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.
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]
click image to play video
Kerry explains that he voted Yes on one bill and No on
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.
click image to play video
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.
click image to play video
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.
click image to play video
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
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.
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.
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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