The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by J.C. Nossiter
The Morning Mendacity
Thursday, September 16th, 2004
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?  editor@nossiter.net
John Kerry has no position on the war in Iraq.  He’s for it and against it.  He keeps changing his mind.  He won’t take a stand. That’s the staple fare of cable television bloviators, and the constant refrain of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.  When it was repeated yet again by Tucker Carlson on CNN’s Crossfire on Wednesday, Mr. Carlson’s so-called adversary James Carville was reduced to gibbering that he was certain Mr. Kerry would get around to making his position clear, one of these days.  Mr. Kerry might, and probably would, argue with perfect accuracy that the charge he hasn’t taken a position on Iraq is both uninformed and untrue.  He’d be better off simply calling it a lie.

In a speech at Westminster College in April, Mr. Kerry summed up the situation this way:  “As complicated as Iraq seems, there are really only three basic options: One, we can continue to do this largely by ourselves and hope more of the same works; Two, we can conclude it’s not doable, pull out and hope against hope that the worst doesn’t happen in Iraq; Or three, we can get the Iraqi people and the world’s major powers invested with us in building Iraq’s future.”*

Ok, Mr. Kerry needs a decent speechwriter.  We knew that already.  But those are the only options, and all of them are terrible.  Option number one?  If we pull out tomorrow we leave behind a country we ourselves have devastated which is certain to tumble into anarchy and bloody civil war.  Option two is the status quo, in which the Iraqis suffer, our troops suffer, and no end to the suffering is in sight.  Option three is the least terrible choice, the only one for a rational leader, who then must work night and day to ensure its success.  That’s precisely what Mr. Kerry proposes to do:

“First, we must create a stable and secure environment in Iraq. That will require a level of forces equal to the demands of the mission. To do this right, we have to truly internationalize both politically and militarily: we cannot depend on a US-only presence. In the short-term, however, if our commanders believe they need more American troops, they should say so and they should get them.   But more and more American soldiers cannot be the only solution. Other nations have a vital interest in the outcome and they must be brought in.”

However awkwardly expressed, Mr. Kerry meaning is clear enough.  He proposes the only possible fix for the catastrophe President Bush has created in Iraq. He goes on, at too great length but with reasonable lucidity, to call for creating a coalition of the major powers to restore enough order on the ground for a UN-appointed interim ruler to take over until a trained Iraqi army, civil service, and police are in place.  The Kerry plan stresses painstaking diplomacy to enlist willing and equal partners to clean up the toxic waste dump of the Bush Iraq policy.

Unlike anything the Bush administration proposes, Mr. Kerry’s is a sensible plan.  It’s also the only possible plan, even if it can’t guarantee impeccable results delivered tomorrow.  Mr. Bush’s mess is very big and picking up after him will take time.  So Mr. Kerry not only has a position on Iraq, but it’s a sound and rational one.  Why doesn’t he get any credit?  In an era when sloganeering has replaced discourse, Mr. Kerry hasn’t done a good job of reducing his thoughtful proposals to bumper stickers.

So let’s do it for him.  Here, in bullet point format, is John Kerry’s plan for Iraq:

· Leaders of all major powers will form a Partnership for Iraqi Reconstruction and Stability:  PIRS.
· With UN backing and NATO leadership, PIRS will deploy a massive international force to occupy and pacify Iraq.
· PIRS will complete a lightning reconstruction of Iraqi infrastructure, from utilities to schools, using local and international labor and military and civilian engineers, paid for in part with Iraqi oil revenues.
· PIRS will recruit and train an Iraqi army, police, and civil service.
· Maintain PIRS occupation until fair and free elections can be held to restore self-rule.

If it sounds easy, it won’t be.  But that, after all, is the point of a bumper sticker.

*
http://www.johnkerry.com/pressroom/speeches/spc_2004_0430.htmls?
©J.C. Nossiter 2004
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