October 10, 2004

Kerry's forgotten Iraq plan

Kerry is starting to convince people that he'll do better in Iraq than Bush, but only because it's becoming clear that he couldn't possibly do worse, and Bush's failure to face reality there is becoming dangerous.

But many people, myself included, are skeptical about the centerpiece of Kerry's plan. Bush characterizes it as "join me for the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." Of course, Bush's critique is based on the premise that the problem is somehow Kerry's for identifying the errors with the war as opposed to his own for commiting them, but his point about how difficult it will be to pull in allies is valid.

That's why I've been extremely disappointed that Kerry hasn't followed up on a separate element of his Iraq plan that he raised during the first debate, but has not mentioned since (and possibly not before; I couldn't find it on his web site, or in any of his major speeches). Here's what Kerry said in Florida:

I think a critical component of success in Iraq is being able to convince the Iraqis and the Arab world that the United States doesn't have long-term designs on it. 

As I understand it, we're building some 14 military bases there now, and some people say they've got a rather permanent concept to them. 

When you guard the oil ministry, but you don't guard the nuclear facilities, the message to a lot of people is maybe, "Wow, maybe they're interested in our oil." 

Don't focus on the pandering to the war-for-oil left but on his larger point: that the administration had a secret rationale for the war that most Americans would not support if they knew of it. Regardless of whether you think it was right to remove Saddam Hussein, or to help build a democracy, very few people outside of a certain political mindset believe that building a long-term US presence in Iraq for strategic, geopolitical purposes. That's something Kerry could really put Bush on the defensive about. Why has he let it vanish?

Posted by Daniel Radosh


There's a lot Kerry hasn't followed up on. Saletan's piece in Slate was infuriatingly correct for just that reason. But look -- anyone that could watch these debates and still consider voting for Bush is a hopeless sectarian anyway.

A commenter at my site pointed out that Kerry did say something like this in the first debate. But I completely agree with the point that Kerry ought to say this more often and more emphatically.

If true, and I don't know that it is, that we're building military bases in Iraq, it could be in preparation for Iran.

Something the "What about Iran?" Kerry supporters haven't quite grasped yet is that Iran is sandwiched between Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries we now have troops, equipment, and airfields in, airfields in with which to bring in more troops, more equipment, and more supplies.

Therein lies one of the biggest reasons why Iran's mullahs are such strong supporters of Sadr and his militant insurgency.

Sorry, I'm an idiot. I didn't notice that you actually said it was from the first debate.

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