Rich Lowry

    RESORT TO NATIONALISTIC DEMAGOGUERY: U.S. troops have been essentially placed at the disposal of a foreign government. Kerry should pledge never to allow this abdication of a commander in chief's responsibility to happen again. A cheap shot? Yeah, but you better believe Republicans would take it if a Democrat were in office now.

    ATTACK HALF-MEASURES: Kerry should say he would never undertake an assault on enemy forces and then pull back to leave the job undone, exposing U.S. troops to the depredations of the enemy they were about to smash. This is pretty much what happened in Fallujah.

HAMMER THE "POLITICIZED WAR": It has been domestic political considerations in Iraq that have kept U.S. troops from going all out in Fallujah and elsewhere. This is natural, since war always has to be related to its political goals, in this case creating a stable, legitimate Iraq government. But it provides fodder for another line of attack: for Kerry to denounce the "politicized war." He can also claim that American politics are keeping Bush from flushing out enemy areas, since he allegedly doesn't want to risk more U.S. casualties right before the election.

    Of course, Kerry's Iraq attack might prove futile. Most of these criticisms come at Bush from the right. Kerry won't be able to make them convincingly -- or at all -- if he doesn't believe them. In his heart, he probably still believes there is a French division somewhere over the horizon that will bail us out in Iraq, if only we bow and scrape enough. In any case, now the election will turn on exactly what it should, and be won or lost on the most important issue facing the country.

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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