John Kerry Had a Point

"But let me talk about something that the president just sort of finished up with. Maybe someone would call it a character trait, maybe somebody wouldn't. But this issue of certainty. It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong. It's another to be certain and be right, or to be certain and be moving in the right direction, or be certain about a principle and then learn new facts and take those new facts and put them to use in order to change and get your policy right. What I worry about with the president is that he's not acknowledging what's on the ground, he's not acknowledging the realities of North Korea, he's not acknowledging the truth of the science of stem-cell research or of global warming and other issues. And certainty sometimes can get you in trouble."

-John Kerry, 1st Presidential Debate, 9/30/04 [emphasis mine]

"The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline [in Iraq]. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

-Dick Cheney, 5/31/05

"We also understand that there is reason to be optimist -- optimistic about what's taking place [in Iraq]. The very same commanders that say that these folks are terrible killers are also reminding us that we're making good progress. On the one hand, you just heard the Prime Minister talk about a new democracy. Remember, the killers tried to intimidate everybody so that they wouldn't vote. That was their tactic. If you look back at the history of our involvement in Iraq, there was a lot of bombings and killings prior to the elections. What they were trying to do is say, let's shake the will of not only the Americans, but the Iraqi citizens. And -- but nevertheless, the Iraqi citizens wouldn't have their will shaken. So we're optimistic. We're optimistic that more and more Iraqi troops are becoming better trained to fight the terrorists. We're optimistic about the constitutional process. "

-George W. Bush, 6/24/05

"The top American commander in the Persian Gulf told Congress on Thursday that the Iraqi insurgency has not grown weaker over the past six months, despite a claim by Vice President Dick Cheney that it was in its 'last throes.' . . . Abizaid told the panel: 'I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago.' As to the overall strength of the insurgency, Abizaid said it was 'about the same' as six months ago."

-CNN Report, 6/23/05 (full testimony should be available here, but isn't)


Blogger Hatcher said...

This is from the WSJ online:

"Regarding Mr. Kennedy's "quagmire" claim, General Casey had this response: "I thought I was fairly clear in what I laid out in my testimony about what's going on in Iraq, that you have an insurgency with no vision, no base, limited popular support, an elected government, committed Iraqis to the democratic process, and you have Iraqi security forces that are fighting and dying for their country every day. Senator, that is not a quagmire."

The full article can be found here: http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110006876

It's not all bad news from Iraq, and even if it were, that's not necessarily an indication that the current policy is not the best given where we are at. It may allow us to judge past decisions, but that really is an independent question.

The historian John Keegan wrote an article about a year ago saying that the war we are fighting now is a consequence of the rapid initial victory. Either a country fights with its full force, and is vanquished upon losing (Germany), or it heads for the hills early to regroup and fight in a decentralized and terroristic fashion. That strategy tends to be a losing one; where it has succeeded, it has because people have lost their will to fight it. The WSJ article indicates that Iraqis continue to voluntarily join their security forces, which is a good sign given the risks. We've done a good thing in the world - plain and simple. It's not over by any means, but the seed is there for success. The ongoing deaths are tragic, but those who seem tortured by them into saying Bush has blood on his hands never seemed to have much problem when Saddam was killing his own people away from the cameras.

Monday, June 27, 2005  

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