Kerry Rips Bush On Iraq
Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington, Kerry blasted the Bush administration, saying that "the country and the Congress were misled into war.... History will judge the invasion of Iraq one of the greatest foreign policy misadventures of all time."
Kerry also called for a rapid reduction in the number of troops in Iraq and cited the seemingly endless U.S. occupation of the country as the primary reason for the ferocity of the insurgency.
While Kerry does not favor an immediate troop withdrawal, he slapped aside the ludicrous Bush mantra that we honor the deaths of our troops by staying put and having more soldiers killed.
"To those who suggest we should withdraw all troops immediately - I say No. A precipitous withdrawal would invite civil and regional chaos and endanger our own security. But to those who rely on the overly simplistic phrase 'we will stay as long as it takes,' who pretend this is primarily a war against Al Qaeda, and who offer halting, sporadic, diplomatic engagement, I also say - No, that will only lead us into a quagmire."
Instead, Kerry advocates a gradual withdrawal of troops, starting in just 60 days, with 20,000 of the 150,000 deployed troops brought home for the holidays if parliamentary elections in December are successful.
"At the first benchmark, the completion of the December elections, we can start the process of reducing our forces by withdrawing 20,000 troops over the course of the holidays."
He also dismissed the conservative notion that Americans somehow have a patriotic obligation to remain silent about opposition to the Iraq war.
"After serving in war, I returned home to offer my own personal voice of dissent. I did so because I believed strongly that we owed it to those risking their lives to speak truth to power. We still do. In fact, while some say we can’t ask tough questions because we are at war, I say no - in a time of war we must ask the hardest questions of all."
Kerry ripped Team Bush for the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame and came right out and accused them of attacking Plame to get at her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson.
"They attacked him, and they attacked his wife to justify attacking Iraq," Kerry said. "We don't know yet whether this will prove to be an indictable offense in a court of law, but for it, and for misleading a nation into war, they will be indicted in the high court of history."
The Massachusetts Senator -- and possible presidential candidate again in 2008 -- also acknowledged that the vote to authorize Bush to use force in Iraq was a mistake. Speaking of a ride aboard a military cargo plane that happened to be carrying the coffin of a soldier killed in the war, Kerry told of his regrets.
"In the middle of the cavernous cargo hold was a simple, aluminum coffin with a small American flag draped over it. We were bringing another American soldier, just killed, home to his family and final resting place. The starkness of his coffin in the center of the hold, the silence except for the din of the engines, was a real time cold reminder of the consequences of decisions for which we Senators share responsibility," said Kerry.
"And knowing now the full measure of the Bush Administration’s duplicity and incompetence, I doubt there are many members of Congress who would give them the authority they abused so badly. I know I would not. There is, as Robert Kennedy once said, ‘enough blame to go around,’ and I accept my share of the responsibility. "