Progressive Writers Bloc

Kerry's vote on Iraq

Jeanie Warner

The Democratic candidate for the Presidency, Senator John Kerry has been under mounting pressure to provide a clearer explanation of his views on the war in Iraq, including why he voted for the congressional resolution giving the President the authority to wage war if necessary. On August 6, George Bush challenged Kerry to answer whether he would have supported the war "knowing what we know now" about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction that U.S. and British officials were certain were there.

In response, Kerry said: "Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have."

Sen. Kerry indicated that he felt any President, engaged in diplomatic endeavor against a hostile power, ought to have the possible use of force as one arrow in the quiver. That is not only commonsense, but a common practice. Diplomacy has often been defined as the art of saying "Nice doggie..." while holding a stick. Without the possibility of force behind the words, no one will pay the least attention to them.

Kerry has said as well that he took the President at his word and that he had fully expected that Bush would exhaust all avenues of diplomacy to gather a significant coalition before invading Iraq and that war would be a “last resort”.

Voting for the resolution giving the President authority to wage war was not intended as a blank check. There was only authorization under certain, rather exacting circumstances, including exhausting every diplomatic peaceful method or if there were a deadlock in U.N. about how to handle Iraq with regards to enforcement of all resolutions regarding Iraq.

The only circumstance allowing UNILATERAL action or any action without the U.N. was if the president had overwhelming proof that Iraq posed an immediate, imminent threat to the U.S. or its allies in the Middle East.

If anything Bush had already decided to disregard the resolution and walk away from the diplomatic arena, when he went to the U.N. to get support for dealing with Iraq.

Kerry has charged that the president and his advisers badly mishandled the war, and in a news conference he has posed sharp questions for Bush.

"Why did we rush to war without a plan to win the peace?" he asked. "Why did you 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?" he added. "Why has he not brought other countries to the table in order to support American troops in the way they deserve it and relieve the pressure on the American people?"

The Republicans and President Bush have attempted to misrepresent Senator Kerry’s position on the war in Iraq, saying he has flip flopped. But Sen. Kerry has made it clear to any fair-minded observer that had he been in charge of policy, the United States would not have diverted its power from the assault against Al Queda to the invasion of Iraq. He has made it clear that he considers the invasion of Iraq was wrong-headed, and that even if one agreed it was a proper course, that it was done in the poorest possible manner, without a proper coalition for the invasion and without planning for the aftermath.

In this matter, Sen. Kerry's views are, in fact, those of a decided majority of the populace, and so ought to have the widest possible appeal at the polls. That is precisely why there is such a campaign of misrepresentation being waged about them by the right and their sundry allies.

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