Wednesday, April 12, 2006

# Posted 12:41 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

KERRY ON 'MEET THE PRESS': On Sunday, the junior senator from Massachusetts earned the first 'D' given out by OxBlog for a talk-show performance. In keeping with the habits of the blogosphere, I will explain my decision by inserting my comments into the transcript of Kerry's interview:
SEN. KERRY: Tim, it’s unconscionable that any young American is dying because Iraqis, five months after an election, are dithering and squabbling and cannot find the ability to compromise and come together in a democracy. Our kids didn’t die for that. Our kids didn’t go over there to do that. Our soldiers have done their job. They’ve given them several elections, three elections. They’ve given them a government, the opportunity to have a government.
Unconscionable? Kerry seems to believe that it was fully conscionable for young Americans to die throughout the first thirty months of the occupation, during which three elections were held. Yet somehow, it has become unconscionable for our servicemen and -women to die now that the formation of a government based on those elections is taking longer than expected.

"The opportunity to have a government." For a long time now, it has been plausible to argue that Iraqis had their opportunity and wasted it. But if Kerry believes the three elections were valuable enough to fight for, how can he advocate walking away if Iraqis won't meet his forty-day deadline?

The only way we made the elections work -- with more voters and fewer attacks on each polling day -- was by waging an unrelenting war against the insurgents for almost three years. None of the political progress in Iraq has come quickly or easily. How can Kerry insist that now it should?
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Joe Biden, your fellow Democrat in the Senate, said this about your proposal: “The problem with John’s plan is it sets a date, but it doesn’t tell you what happens when the rest of the world falls apart - when you have the Turks and the Iranians in Iraq and there’s a regional war. He doesn’t tell you that part.”
No, of course not. Which is way Kerry had to answer that challenge so evasively:
SEN. KERRY: Well, actually I disagree with Joe. I do set forth what you need to do in that part because there’s a complete absence of diplomacy here, Tim. I mean, you remember the times of Henry Kissinger, shuttle diplomacy, an incredibly engaged effort to try to get resolution in the Middle East? Do you remember Jim Baker moving around, talking, unbelievable engaged effort to help build a coalition for Desert Storm? You don’t see any of that taking place here. There’s a complete absence of real diplomacy.
Kerry insists just a few minutes later that 120,000 American troops "can't do anything about a civil war" in Iraq, but thinks that "shuttle diplomacy" would make a difference?

As for Henry Kissinger, one ought to recall that his strategy for Iraq in the 1970s was to cut a deal with the Ba'athist dictatorship that led to the slaughter of thousands of Kurds who had once believed America was on their side. How appropriate that Kerry is now invoking Kissinger's name to justify another betrayal.

And Jim Baker? He deserves great credit for persuading our allies to form a coalition against Saddam. But I suspect that even the greatest of diplomats could never persuade Iran, Syria and Iraq's other neighbors to behave in a manner consonant with American interests, especially in the event of a civil war.
MR. RUSSERT: The secretary of state went to Iraq and suggested that Prime Minister Jaafari step aside and allow someone else to emerge.

SEN. KERRY: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: An Iraqi said, “We resent that American interference."

SEN. KERRY: That’s not the way to do it, Tim. What you need and what I’ve suggested is that you have a date in the accordslike summit where you bring all the parties together—and I mean all the parties. You need to bring Iraq’s neighbors together. Khalilzad has now been authorized to talk to the Iranians. Bring the Iranians, bring the Syrians, bring the Jordanians, the Saudis, the Egyptians and others. You have a conference at which you have the United Nations, the Arab League and all of the factions. And you sit there, and you pound out the differences.
Yes, a conference always solves everything. So much for Kerry being a realist. And who has a better track record for resolving thorny international conflicts than the United Nations and the Arab League? (And resolving them in a manner that shows a decent respect for American interests.)

Heck, why doesn't Kerry just suggest that we resurrect the League of Nations and hope that it does a better job now than it did in the 1930s?
SEN. KERRY: ...and if they can’t put a government together under the threat that the United States is going to withdraw, they’re not going to do it. Then they want the civil war, then they have to fight their civil war.
Kerry is right that Iraqi politicians' confidence that America will not withdraw makes it safer for them to resist compromise. Of course, Kerry doesn't consider the other side of the equation, which is that without America there, the factions might decide that their safest bet is a no-holds-barred war against their opponents. This is the same dilemma we faced again and again during the Cold War and are no closer to resolving now.

But what I can say with a fair amount of confidence is that a threat to withdraw in forty days will never be able to break the habits that Iraqi politicians have developed over the past three years. Moreover, it will be seen as a betrayal by those numerous politicians who have trusted us to see the democratic process through to its conclusion. And it will embolden those who believe intransigence is the best way to get rid of the Americans.

If you were the insurgents, how would you respond to a forty-day ultimatum? I think you would slaughter as many Shi'ite and Kurdish civilians as humanly possible in forty days in order to render impossible the sort of compromises necessary to form a government. Then, after forty days, you would be rewarded with a historic victory over the United States that would ensure your immediate entrance into the pantheon of great Arab heroes.

Now, if you've looked at the Kerry-Russert transcript, you know that I have not yet begun to fight. But it is 1:38 AM and I have an important meeting at 9:00. Tomorrow night I continue.
(27) opinions -- Add your opinion

I'm glad you stated that you had yet begun to fight, because there was little in either Kerry post to suggest you actually had. You might use this statement as a jumping-off point.
"Then, after forty days, you would be rewarded with a historic victory over the United States that would ensure your immediate entrance into the pantheon of great Arab heroes."
You could then explain how the peshmerga would be no match for the insurgents (after carefully explaining exactly who the insurgents are, and what their goals are). You would then explain how the Shiites and their militias would be similarly helpless, despite all that support from their Iranian brothers next door. You could finish with your plan to prosecute the war successfully. You do all that, and I'll listen to what you have to say about Kerry. -D. Funk, Tallahassee, FL
Whenever you mention Kerry, btw, y'all ought to have a little footnote, reading, "whom I endorsed for the Presidency in 2004" (not that the choice was stirring).
Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. My argument is not that the insurgents would quickly prevail in a civil war if America goes home, but rather that the simple fact of America going home would be interpreted (fairly, I think) as a historic victory for the insurgents, on par with the Russian retreat from Afghanistan.

I don't dispute that the peshmerga and the Shi'ites would fight tenaciously even without an American presence. But that kind of tenacious fight would almost definitely be the sort of bloodbath that would destrory any progress toward democratization or even provoke a regional war.

And if you insist that Kerry's critics first elaborate a clear plan for victory before you listen to them, then I suppose you will have insulated yourself from any criticism of the senator.

Right now, the plan is to build up an Iraqi army while cobbling together a representative government. It's not a great plan, but I think it's far superior to Kerry's.
Good point, Sanjav. I didn't see your comment until after putting up the previous one, otherwise I would've acknowledged it immediately.

After finishing my commentary on the Kerry interview, I will address the question of whether it proves that I made a foolish choice in November 2004.
In keeping with the habits of the blogosphere, you should call your "comments" a "fisking"!

Interesting comments, though.
The scary thing is, Kerry or a similar Democrat might actually win an election with much less than 50% of the popular vote, as the 2008 election is ripe for a 3rd-party candidate to come in and cannibalize GOP votes.

Don't take this lightly..
It took 3rd party candidates to elect a Clinton the 1st two times...it will take a 3rd party candidate to elect a Clinton a 3rd time. It could happen, and if Bill and Hillary have anything to say about it, it will. Hillary will get the Dem nomination. She will pick Obama as her running mate, and somebody like John McCain running as an Independent will provide provide the 3rd party split of the GOP. Do *not* underestimate this possibility.
I turned MTP off when I saw that phony grin of his at the intro. LOL...bring in the Arab League etc? Hell, it would take longer than forty days to arrange such a conference!

The only thing Kerry is right about is that the Iraqis need to get on with it. D'oh!!! If he just figured that out, then he is the dimmest bulb in the nation. But you knew that.

Full disclosure...I have never voted for a Democrat in my life. But I am not a Republican!
Kerry's contention that parties external to Iraq be part of forming the government is absolutely daft. Other coutries have their own interests, and involving them in the discussions would guarentee the government would either never get formed or never be trusted by the Iraqi people.

In fact I would go so far as to say the biggest problem Iraq faces today is too much involvment from other parties. In order for them to have any chance of stability they need to remove the foreign actors (Iranian, Syrian, and jihadi) from their soil and political life.
I think in fairness to Kerry, it should be pointed out that he was actually for realistic solutions in Iraq before he was against them.
SEN. KERRY: Tim, it’s unconscionable that any young American is dying

This is of a piece with Kerry's objection to the Vietnam war. He still doesn't realize that he was wrong about that. The point of the war was to prevent communism (a populace-killing system) from taking over SE Asia. When we pulled out, sure enough, Communism came in and millions of SE Asians died at the hands of communist governments.

He doesn't think the lives of privileged Americans should be spent helping bring peace and prosperity to third world hell holes. When is somebody going to call these racist, narcissistic, 60s generation hippies to account for their monstrous acts of selfishness?

As a lucky, privileged, rich, strong nation we have a moral obligation to help our fellow humans in need. Maybe if we had put our hearts into it and fought with conviction, there would have been no boatloads of boat people drowning in the south china sea, and no mountains of skulls built by pol pot. But no, rich white college boys wanted to stay home and smoke pot and congratulate themselves on their high ideals and pacifism.
I agree 100% that a US withdrawal without a reasonably functioning elected Iraqi government would be seen now and throughout history as a US defeat and an insurgent victory.

Oh, and John Kerry is a babbling fool who cares about one thing only: John Kerry.
Kerry's strategy makes sense only if the outcome you most desire is a defeat of the United States of America under the leadership of George W. Bush.
"... months after an election, are dithering and squabbling and cannot find the ability to compromise and come together..."

Still talking about 2004 - or was it 2000?

Hey, remember K saying he had a much better plan for Iraq? The election (ours, that is) has been over for a while, is he finally offering it? And gee, it adds up to "let's get together and talk," which has worked so well - for Nobel winners Carter and Arafat.
We really need to know which country Kerry visited before he made his latest policy statement.

He probably got his marching orders from someone else.
Painful, in the extreme. The MTP event was simply a restaging of his NYT OpEd piece which was absolutely dreadful tripe. The senator (note the small 's') has wandered off into "Wishville". Sad, really.
Sheesh. If we didn't know any better, this would be unbelievable. Regardless, Kerry doesn't have a better plan; more importantly, Kerry will never have a better plan - it is simply beyond his abilities. All he can do is cavil, carp and complain.
Have you guys ever retracted your endorsement of Kerry and admitted you were wrong to endorse him? If not, you should quit complaining about him.
Kerry's position is that we will leave sooner unless they form a govt, in which case we'll leave later. Seems the insurgents would like that very much.

Kerry is too much soundbite and too little consequences thinking. He is history trying to repeat himself and the world is different.

"get out of the new world if you can't lend a hand" Bob Dylan once sang.
So Mr. Kerry wants a war that runs on a schedule, eh? Well I want a weekend of erotic abandon with Carmen Electra! I'm a lot more likely to get my wish than Big John is to get his.
What I want to know is why John F. Kerry is on MTP in the first place? Former presidential candidate two years ago? Fair enough, but I don't recall Bob Dole making the rounds at late as '98 lambasting Bill Clinton.

Sure, obviously Kerry is serious about taking another run, but does that mean the producers at MTP have to give him a forum? Christ, when you think about it, the amount of power the producers at MTP and other media stages is truely astounding.

Final note, I just watched "Good night and Good Luck", and I recommend it for those who believe that the media is some Holy neutral conduit of facts and just the facts.
Right, Sen. Kerry. The problem in Iraq right now is that the Iranians and Syrians don't have enough influence. Let's bring them to the table to secure thier power over the region for the next century. Then all this bloodshed will be worthwhile.
"formation of a government based on those elections is taking longer than expected."

Has it been a long time in a historical sense? Only by our modern, shriveled standards of attention span is this so. Any close comparison to our own Revolution or the between or post-war eras will reveal that the Iraq war and political process has been a turbocharged, nitro-burning funny car by comparison. This noxious CW, that the Iraqis are dragging their feet by some kind of reasonable standard can only be supported by avoiding the historical analysis.
Whoever said that "if" Hilary is nominated she will pick "Barack Obama" as her running mate is way off. She will not pick him..Not that I wouldn't want her too, I actually think he has great potential and may one day have the top dog job, but not yet..
Well, this is not the first time that Idiot John Kerry has suggested that foreign countries should get decisively involved in setting domestic policy. Does anyone remember him whining that we should let U.S. foreign policy be directed by... THE FRENCH??

Sure! Great idea, John!! And let's invite Iran and Syria, and the Arab League, to get involved in the Iraqi political process.

Whoops! Didn't Idiot John Kerry just criticize the Bush administration for "interfering?"

Wake me when the man has a coherent idea. Until then... zzzz....zzzzz.....zzzzz
Who better to help form a democracy than such experienced and devoted hands as Iran and Syria?
Ok. If we can get beyond the name calling, and other juvenile rhetoric such as pot smoking Hippies and racists, ect, we might be able to get down to the main issues.
First, should there be a timetable or not? That means if you are G.W, no timetable, period.
Or...should we get out in 40 days, 3 months, 3 years or 30 years? Do we as the American people have a say in this discussion? I say yes. If you agree to the need for a timetable, then, what must be done before we begin turning the country and it's security and the responsibilty for governance over to the Iragis. If we can not debate this, then you are simply blindly trusting our president.
Next, to what degree to we lay claim to oil interests, construction, providing weapons,and providing materials to the new Iraqui administration. Are we going to have military bases there? This is a serious issue and NO ONE is talking about it. I believe this administration will never walk away from this war without maintaining control over the oil...and that ain't gonna work for the Iraquis. Their oil, their business. You'd feel the same way if you wanted to be a "sovereign nation".
Finally, on Iran. It is a slamdunk that there will be missile strikes and bombing. The only question is the timing and the logistics. Watch for the rhetoric to ratchit up right before a so called "moment of decision" which the Security Council will give to Iran. What you are witnessing in your lifetime is the meditated march towards one-world government, and there will be no "rogue" states. Everyone gets to sign on, either by choice or by force. And Iran is up to the plate next.
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