Tuesday, September 21, 2004

DAVID BROOKS on Kerry's Crystal Clarity and Jejune Judgment

David Brooks on Kerry's speech at NYU yesterday from today's NYT Option Editorials...

"Yesterday John Kerry came to New York University and did something amazing. He uttered a series of clear, declarative sentences on the subject of Iraq. Many of these sentences directly contradict his past statements on Iraq, but at least you could figure out what he was trying to say.

"First, Kerry argued that Iraq was never a serious threat to the United States, that the war was never justified and that Bush's focus on Iraq was a "profound diversion" from the real enemy, Osama bin Laden.

"Second, Kerry argued that we are losing the war in Iraq. Casualties are mounting, the insurgency is spreading, and daily life is more miserable.

"Third, Kerry argued that in times like this, brave leaders should tell the truth to the American people. Kerry reminded his audience that during Vietnam, he returned home "to offer my own personal voice of dissent," and he's decided to do the same thing now. The parallel is clear: Iraq is the new Vietnam.

"Finally, Kerry declared that it is time to get out, beginning next summer. The message is that if Kerry is elected, the entire momentum of U.S. policy will be toward getting American troops out of Iraq as quickly as possible and shifting responsibility for Iraq onto other countries.


"...Substantively, of course, Kerry's speech is completely irresponsible. In the first place, there is a 99 percent chance that other nations will not contribute enough troops to significantly decrease the U.S. burden in Iraq. In that case, John Kerry has no Iraq policy. The promise to bring some troops home by summer will be exposed as a Disneyesque fantasy.

"More to the point, Kerry is trying to use multilateralism as a gloss for retreat. If "the world" is going to be responsible for defeating Moktada al-Sadr and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then no one will be responsible for defeating them. The consequences for the people of Iraq and the region will be horrific."

For the in-between, go here.

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