Bush, seated beside Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, said Tuesday: "My opponent has taken so many
different positions on
is the basis of a new Bush campaign TV ad that shows the Democratic senator
from Massachusetts windsurfing to the strains of a Strauss waltz as a narrator
intones: "Kerry voted for the
Yet an examination of Kerry's words in more than 200 speeches and statements, comments during candidate forums and answers to reporters' questions does not support the accusation.
policy emerged as a dominant issue in the Democratic primaries and later in the
general election, Kerry clung to a nuanced, middle-of-the road -- yet largely
consistent -- approach to
repeatedly described Hussein as a dangerous menace who
must be disarmed or eliminated, demanded that the
There were times when Kerry's emphasis shifted for what appear to be political reasons. In the fall of 2003, for example, when former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean surged to the top of Democratic polls based on an anti-war platform, Kerry's criticism of the president grew stronger. There are many instances in which clumsy phrases and tortuously long explanations make Kerry difficult to follow. And there are periods, such as last week, when the sharpness of Kerry's words restating old positions seem to suggest a change.
Yet taken as a
whole, Kerry has offered the same message ever since talk of attacking
"Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm (Hussein) by force, if we ever exhaust ... other options,'' Kerry said 23 months ago on the Senate floor before voting to authorize the force, imploring Bush to take the matter to the United Nations.
"If we do
wind up going to war with
Republicans have hit the flip-flop charge hard. The Republican National Committee produced an 11-minute video, widely distributed on the Internet, which features dozens of seemingly inconsistent Kerry statements and the soundtrack to the 1960s television show "Flipper.'' Bush supporters distributed Kerry flip-flop sandals to delegates at the GOP convention last month, the Bush campaign produced a Kerry flip-flop game for its Web site, and the president brings it up almost every day on the campaign trail.
The crux of the flip-flopping charge is based on pitting Kerry's pointed criticism of the war against his October 2002 vote to authorize the use of force, a vote the Democratic senator defends to this day.
Republicans are not the only ones who characterize the vote as an endorsement of war. Many Democrats, including Dean, warned that a vote in favor of the resolution would be tantamount to giving Bush a blank check to go to war. Even today, many Democrats are aghast at Kerry's insistence that, knowing everything he knows now, he would cast the same vote.
Kerry, who was one of 29 Democratic senators to support the resolution, said the vote was appropriate to strengthen the president's hand in negotiations, and he draws a distinction between his vote and an endorsement of the March 2003 attack.
action on this resolution is not the end of our national debate on how best to
Republicans ridicule such distinctions and use Kerry's vote as the basis for their assertion that Kerry once favored the war.
"He voted for it,'' said Republican national chairman Ed Gillespie when asked Wednesday to back the charge that Kerry supported the war. "Look at the coverage at the time, it was pretty clear what was going on.''
Yet in the
fall of 2002, several months before the air strikes on
"If you want to keep the peace, you've got to have the authorization to use force,'' Bush said in September 2002. "It's a chance for Congress to say, 'we support the administration's ability to keep the peace.' That's what this is all about.''
campaign frequently cites Kerry's seemingly incongruous statement at a
actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it,'' Kerry said
regarding the Bush administration's request for more funding for the
The line has
been used in Bush campaign commercials, and the campaign distributed a memo
Tuesday suggesting the vote raises doubts about Kerry's commitment to
The White House is aware that the statement does not reflect a contradiction but an inelegant way of defending a pair of Senate votes. Kerry voted for a measure that paid for the $87 billion by reducing tax cuts for those who earn more than $300,000. He voted against a measure that paid for the $87 billion by adding to the deficit.
The biggest shifts in Kerry's language seem to appear at the high-water marks of the war -- shortly after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003 and after the capture of Hussein the following December -- when he seems less critical of the Bush policy.
Two days after Bush stood before the "Mission Accomplished'' sign and declared major combat over, Kerry participated in a forum with rival Democratic presidential candidates.
ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked the candidates if the war was the right decision at the right time.
"I said at the time I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity,'' Kerry said, "but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein. And when the president made the decision, I support him and I support the fact that we did disarm him.''
By contrast, Dean in response to the same question called it the "wrong war at the wrong time,'' using language very similar to what Kerry has said recently.
words that Kerry will have the hardest time explaining today are those he
uttered three days after Hussein was captured. Dean, who had emerged as Kerry's
strongest challenger for the Democratic nomination, said that while Hussein's
capture was good news, it had not "made
Kerry seized on the statement, telling students at Drake University, "Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president.''
enthusiastic words seem to conflict with his statement Monday at
"Saddam Husein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special
place in hell. But ... the satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide
this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left
For a candidate who has been in elected office nearly a quarter of a century, Kerry has at times shown a remarkable inability to explain the nuances of his position.
Asked by radio host Don Imus last week to explain how he could be so critical of the war yet stand by his vote to authorize the use of force, Kerry responded with a 324-word answer, including a discussion of no-fly zones and Iraqi tribal separatism.
The response left Imus -- a self-described Kerry supporter -- perplexed.
"I was just back in my office banging my head on the jukebox,'' Imus told listeners when the interview was over. "This is my candidate, and ... I don't know what he's talking about.''
of President Bush's stance on the war in
"In giving the president this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days -- to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.''
Speech announcing presidential campaign, Patriot's Point, S.C.:
"I voted to threaten the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations. I believe that was right -- but it was wrong to rush to war without building a true international coalition -- and with no plan to win the peace.''
the eve of the attack on
"Even having botched the diplomacy, it is the duty of any president, in the final analysis, to defend this nation and dispel the security threat. ... Saddam Hussein has brought military action upon himself by refusing for 12 years to comply with the mandates of the United Nations. ... My strong personal preference would have been for the administration ... to have given diplomacy more time.''
the Council on Foreign Relations,
"Simply put, the Bush administration has pursued the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in modern history.''
"President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq?''
E-mail Marc Sandalow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Let's Get Real
By PAUL KRUGMAN
mind the inevitable claims that John Kerry is soft on terrorism. What he must
address is the question of how his policy in
Bush claims that Mr. Kerry's plan to secure and rebuild
The actual record is one of officials who have refused to admit that their fantasies about how the war would go were wrong, and who have continued to push us ever deeper into the quagmire because of their insistence that everything is going according to plan.
has been a lot of press coverage of the administration's failure to do anything
serious about rebuilding
Long after it was obvious to everyone else that we were engaged in an escalating guerrilla war, Bush appointees clung to the belief that they were fighting a handful of dead-enders and foreign terrorists.
As a result, they casually swelled the ranks of our foes - remember, Moktada al-Sadr was never going to be our friend, but he didn't have to be our enemy. They even treated Iraqi security forces with contempt, not bothering to provide them with adequate training or equipment.
an analysis titled "Inexcusable Failure," Anthony Cordesman
of the Center for Strategic and International Studies details how the
failure continues. All the evidence suggests that Bush officials still think
that one more military push - after the
"Three months into its new mission," The New York Times reported, "the military command in charge of training and equipping Iraqi security forces has fewer than half of its permanent headquarters personnel in place."
the root of this folly is a continuing refusal to face uncomfortable facts.
Confronted with a bleak C.I.A. assessment of the
Fantasyland extended to the Rose Garden yesterday, where Mr. Bush said polls asking Iraqis whether their nation was on the right track were more positive than similar polls asking Americans about their outlook - and he seemed to consider that a good sign.
is Mr. Bush taking us? As the reality of
doesn't really believe that. After all, he continues to praise
don't have to go there. American policy shouldn't be dictated by Mr. Bush's
infallibility complex; our first priority must be our own security. And in
"Meet The Press" back in April, Mr. Kerry
wasn't as forthright about
Bush administration has made such a mess of
By THOM SHANKER
of the study, which has not been officially released, were read into the public
record on Thursday by Senator Jack Reed of
Mr. Rumsfeld said the report was an "excellent piece of work," and that he had ordered briefings on its findings for senior military and civilian officials.
But he cautioned after the hearing that the section read by Senator Reed was not a comprehensive synopsis, and that the authors of the study may not be fully aware of the variety of steps under way by the Pentagon broadly to lessen stress on the force, and actions taken specifically by the Army to increase the number of available combat forces without further expanding the military.
Reed said the Defense Science Board study found "inadequate total numbers
quoted the report as saying that unless the
"If everything we recommend is implemented over the next five years but we continue our current foreign policy of military expeditions every two years, we will begin two more stabilization operations without sufficient preparation or resources," Mr. Reed said in describing the findings of the board, a high-level advisory group.
The study itself was managed by two defense industry executives: Craig Fields, a former chairman of the Defense Science Board and former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and Philip A. Odeen, another former Defense Department official. "They conclude by saying: anything started wrong tends to continue wrong," Mr. Reed said during a four-hour hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Reed added that the study raises troubling questions in the event that the
American presence in
issue of long-term deployments to
An article published Thursday by Inside the Pentagon, a military affairs newsletter, quoted the study as concluding that "current and projected force structure will not sustain our current and projected global stabilization commitments."
assigning the project to the science board last January, Michael W. Wynne, an
under secretary of defense, wrote: "Our military expeditions to
Under questioning by Senator Reed, Mr. Rumsfeld said the first goal is to maximize the use of troops already in the service by managing them better.
Mr. Rumsfeld cited a number of steps taken to ease the strain on the American military, including the shift of important combat skills from the reserves to active-duty troops, and the assignment of administrative tasks to civilians so those in uniform could return to combat duties.
Mr. Rumsfeld also complimented efforts by the Army to increase the number of combat-ready brigades by redesigning its divisions into more modular fighting units.
But he noted that if the reorganizations fail to field the military forces required by commanders, "then by golly, you're right, we'll have to go to an increase in end strength."
In brief comments to reporters following the hearing, Mr. Rumsfeld said the Defense Science Board "did a good job" with the study. Of the sections read into the public record, he cautioned, "You did not get a comprehensive synopsis" but only "a few paragraphs."
Mr. Rumsfeld declined to give a more thorough summary of the study.
Guard to Miss Goal by 5,000 Recruits
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (AP) - The Army National Guard will fall 5,000 soldiers short of its recruiting goal this year, in part because fewer in the active-duty force are switching to part-time service, knowing how frequently Guard units are being dispatched to war zones, the Guard's top general said Thursday.
It will be the first time since 1994 that the Guard has missed its goal.
Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum of the Army, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in an interview with The Associated Press that he was concerned by the shortfall but believed that it would not be a long-term trend.
The Guard had set a goal of 56,000 recruits for the budget year ending Sept. 30 but is likely to end up with about 51,000, General Blum said.
He cited two reasons the Guard was attracting fewer soldiers from the active-duty force, a pool of recruits that in some states accounts for half of the new Guard members in a given year.
reason is that the active-duty Army is prohibiting soldiers already in units in
The other reason, General Blum said, is that active-duty soldiers know that a growing number of Guard units are being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, so they figure there is little to be gained, in terms of reduced personal risk, by switching to the Guard from active duty.
Deputy Says Elections Must Be 'Open to All' in
By DAVID STOUT
"We're going to have an election that is free and open," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said at a House committee hearing, "and that has to be open to all citizens."
he was asked after the session if he knew of any plans to not hold elections in
particularly violent sections of
Mr. Armitage's testimony before the House Appropriations Committee's panel on foreign operations, and his comments afterward, seemed to put him at odds, at least for the moment, with Secretary Rumsfeld, who theorized before another Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday that elections might be held in only "three-quarters or four-fifths of the country" because some regions are not yet secure enough.
"So be it," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "Nothing's perfect in life."
Mr. Rumsfeld said today, does
country wants foreign forces in their country any longer than they have to be
there," Mr. Rumsfeld said as he and Mr. Allawi appeared together at a news briefing. "Our goal
is to invest the time and the money and the effort to help them train up Iraqis
to take over those responsibilities" of providing security within
Mr. Rumsfeld, who did not set out a timetable for any troop withddrawal, said, "Any implication that that place has to be peaceful and perfect before we can reduce coalition and U.S. forces, I think, would obviously be unwise, because it's never been peaceful and perfect, and it isn't likely to be."
Mr. Armitage, in his comments after today's hearing by the House Appropriations panel, seemed to try to minimize any impression of a disagreement or momentary disconnect within the administration.
Alluding to Mr. Allawi's White House appearance with President Bush as well as to the address to Congress, Mr. Armitage said that both Mr. Bush and the Iraqi leader "were crystal clear in saying that the elections were going to be held, and they'll be free and fair, and they wouldn't be perfect," adding, "We absolutely want to hold them in all parts of the country."
widespread impression of confusion in the administration, especially if it
persists, could be damaging, since Mr. Bush's Democratic rival, Senator
John Kerry, has stepped up his criticism of the administration's entire
Kerry has essentially been saying that the American-led invasion to topple
Saddam Hussein was a misguided, reckless, go-it-alone adventure, and that Mr.
Bush has no real plan for getting the
To make things even more uncomfortable for the White House, Mr. Armitage had to listen to sharp criticism of the administration today as he appeared before the appropriations panel to request that $3.5 billion originally designated for reconstruction in Iraq be diverted for security purposes — an acknowledgment that violence had persisted longer than many people had expected.
Mr. Armitage conceded as much today. "We found that the security situation or the insurgents more virulent than we had expected," he testified, "and we need to more rapidly stand up security in order then to have enough stability to have reconstruction projects really get traction."
At another point, he acknowledged that administration leaders did not fully understand the complexities of Iraqi society before the campaign. "We have to acknowledge that there were several things that we didn't foresee," he said. "One was a full understanding of the tribal nature, the real importance of tribes and how to bring tribal elders into it." He added, "I don't think that I got that right, personally."
the president's own admission last month that his administration had made a
"miscalculation" on what the
panel members of both parties expressed their liking and respect for Mr. Armitage even as they criticized the administration's
Kolbe, a Republican from
Nita Lowey of
David R. Obey of
"They were as arrogant as they were wrong," he said. Now, Mr. Obey said, "I see that same kind of intellectual arrogance on the part of a number of people in the administration, especially the White House and the Pentagon civilian leadership."