Suzanne Fields

The biggest difference between John Kerry and George W. Bush is not what they did during the Vietnam War but what they've done during the war in Iraq.

Sen. John Kerry voted for going to war in Iraq based on what he knew when he knew it, just like the president. Later, when he felt the winds in the Democratic Party shifting, he voted against appropriating the money to support the American troops dispatched to liberate Iraq from the forces of hell. As a critic of the president's war policy he joins a pantheon of posturers who thrive on second guesses.

But he underestimates the president's war strategy. When NBC's Tim Russert asked the president whether he should have begun a preemptive war "without ironclad, absolute intelligence that (Saddam) had weapons of mass destruction" the president answered forthrightly: "There is no such thing necessarily in a dictatorial regime as ironclad absolutely solid evidence."

The president was forced to make a decision about whether to go to war under conditions of uncertainty. He learned reasoning at Harvard Business School, to understand statistics and to make decisions based on "probabilities, not absolutes," writes economist Arnold Kling at Americans like certainty, but in making life-and-death decisions, black-and-white absolutes often fade into shades of gray.

If the president didn't have all the "facts," his understanding of the big picture led him to make removing Saddam Hussein part of his strategy of fighting terrorism. Several of those European countries that were against us going to war are trying now to figure out how to benefit from having a democratic regime in Iraq.

"Paradoxically, the future of Iraq, which two years ago threatened to destroy the alliance, may turn into an opportunity to rebuild the Atlantic Alliance and beyond that the international order in general," writes Henry Kissinger in The Washington Post.

In a widely read article in Newsweek, "The Arrogant Empire," Fareed Zakaria criticized the United States for not building a better international consensus before invading Iraq, but he uncovered an intriguing global survey that had been largely unreported: "Large majorities of people in most countries thought that the world would be a more dangerous place if there were a rival to the American superpower."

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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