Senator Kerry should apologize

Posted: Oct 13, 2003 12:00 AM

 Sen. John Kerry is demanding an apology from President Bush for his handling of Iraq. It would make more sense for Kerry to apologize for his own demagoguery and for placing his personal ambitions ahead of the national interest.

 On ABC’s “This Week,” Kerry said Bush should apologize “for having misled America, for not having kept his promises of working adequately within the international community, not having built a legitimate international coalition, not having exhausted the process of the inspections.”

 What did Bush mislead America about: the existence of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program, or other weapons of mass destruction? President Bush said that based on our best intelligence, he believed that Iraq had an active nuclear program. Does our failure to have found those weapons prove they didn’t exist? Even if there were no such program -- a fact difficult to comprehend given Saddam’s known history and persistent pattern of deception that ultimately led to his removal from power -- it doesn’t prove Bush was lying. Nor does it prove our intelligence agencies were lying. Is Kerry suggesting they were? And what might he say about David Kay’s findings concerning biological and chemical weapons and Saddam’s clear material breach of the U.N. resolutions?

 Moreover, this mantra about us not working with the international community is becoming annoying. These other nations were and are impervious to reason about Iraq, insisting on appeasement and non-enforcement of the U.N. resolutions. What would the Democrats have done differently to build a “credible” coalition, assuming they would have even been trying to enforce the resolutions against Iraq in the first place? The answer is: Nothing, because the U.N. and Europe were intransigent on the issue.
To curry the favor of those recalcitrant nations, Democratic leaders would have had to cave in to their demands for endless appeasement. Is that the kind of leadership America deserves? Is it responsible to entrust world peace and security to foreign nations whose contempt for the United States is as palpable as their unwillingness to act against tyrannical thugs?

 How about this specious claim that we didn’t exhaust the inspection process? Is 12 years and 17 U.N. resolutions not sufficient exhaustion? Short of wholly ceding our sovereignty to France and Germany, what would Kerry suggest?

 Kerry and the cacophonous cadre of Democratic hopefuls are tirelessly peddling the tale that Bush lied to get us into Iraq -- but in the very process of making the claim, they are themselves lying.

 Take, for example, their assertion that President Bush characterized Iraq as an imminent threat to the United States. I’m not the first to point this out, but Bush’s words were precisely the opposite. As Fox News’ Brit Hume noted, in Bush’s State of the Union speech in January 2003, the president stated, “Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late.”

 So who, exactly, is misleading the American people here?

 No, President Bush has nothing for which to apologize, but Kerry has plenty. He should apologize for:

• Overstating the negative and understating the positive developments in Iraq, with the likely consequence of undermining our troop morale and American support for the peace effort. He won’t tell you about the hospitals and schools that are back in business, that Iraqis are taking a greater role in their own security, or that a free press, a free market economy and an independent judiciary are emerging.

• Characterizing the inevitable difficulties in helping a nation transition from dictatorship to democracy as poor “peace planning,” while threatening to vote against the president’s $87 billion package for Iraq, thereby interfering with the transition to peace.

• Implying that he would have a superior peace plan to “minimize the cost to Americans and the threat to our troops.” What nonsense!

• Pretending to be the military’s best friend and expert when he has voted against military pay increases at least 11 times.

• Claiming that Bush overextended the military when Kerry has proposed enormous defense cuts throughout his career.

• Trying to weasel out of his vote to support the war resolution after the fact and passing it off on false claims of deception by the Bush administration.

While we all understand that this is the presidential election season, it is also a season of war.
Democratic presidential hopefuls like Kerry need to start behaving as though they appreciate that.