WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. John Kerry insists on proving that he can't be trusted. He made his political debut in 1970, joining the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, then accused American troops of war crimes in Vietnam -- and tried to deny he had done so. During his ill-fated presidential campaign, Kerry's hyperventilated claims to be a war hero were called into question by his own comrades. Now, the Democrat defeatist has published his formula for victory in Iraq: Just quit.
In a 600-word screed published this week by the New York Times, Kerry lays out his vision for the future. Unfortunately, like so much else in the Massachusetts liberal's political life, it is full of flim-flam, half-truths, distortions and outright falsehoods. A few examples based on my seven trips covering U.S. forces in Iraq for FOX News:
Kerry: "Now we find our troops in the middle of an escalating civil war."
Reality: No U.S. or Iraqi official has described what's happening as a civil war. In fact, all have categorically disagreed with such a characterization. Only the "Blame America First" crowd and the mainstream media broadcasting from balconies in the green zone depict it as such.
Kerry: "Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work."
Reality: Those of us who are unashamed of our service know that we didn't lose the war on the battlefields of Vietnam -- but in the corridors of power in Washington.
Kerry: "No American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi politicians refuse to resolve their ethnic and political differences."
Reality: American troops in Iraq aren't being wounded and killed because of Iraqi politicians -- but by terrorists who refuse to participate in the political process.
Kerry: "Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military."
Reality: Every soldier, sailor, airman, Guardsman and Marine I have interviewed in Iraq -- from Gen. George Casey down to riflemen on patrol -- believes that a withdrawal deadline is a formula for disaster.
Kerry: "If Iraq's leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year's end."
Reality: Now there's a real incentive! If you don't do as we say, we'll pull out immediately. If you do as we want -- we'll still pull out 230 days later!
Kerry: "We must immediately bring the leaders of the Iraqi factions together at a Dayton Accords-like summit meeting."
Reality: Show us the list of "diplomats" who would negotiate with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his ilk.
Kerry: "To increase the pressure on Iraq's leaders, we must redeploy American forces to garrisoned status."
Reality: U.S. troop leaders -- and Iraqi officials -- agree that the place to put the pressure is on the terrorists who are doing all in their power to prevent formation of a democratic government.
Kerry: "Special operations against Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists in Iraq should be initiated only on hard intelligence leads."
Reality: That's what's being done now, Mr. Kerry.
Kerry: "We will defeat Al Qaeda faster when we stop serving as its best recruitment tool."
Reality: As the Sept. 11 attacks proved, just being the home of the brave and the land of the free makes America Al Qaeda's best "recruitment tool." It was that way before Iraq -- and it will stay that way much longer if we turn tail and run.
Kerry: "An exit from Iraq will also strengthen our hand in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat …"
Kerry: " … and allow us to repair the damage of repeated deployments, which flag officers believe has strained military readiness and morale."
Reality: If morale is suffering, why is the reenlistment rate among combat-committed units (average 106 percent) at unprecedentedly high levels?
Kerry's half-witted harangue has attracted considerable attention in the media. It is being widely circulated in the Islamic press. But it's no formula for success. It should instead be described as a plan to abandon ship.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.