Kerry Says He Would Have Voted For Iraq Authorization Knowing What He Knows Now
Under pressure from the Bush camp to define his plans for Iraq, Sen. Kerry yesterday declared that, even in hindsight, he would have voted in favor of the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. Said Kerry, "Yes, I would have voted for the authority, but I would have used that authority, as I have said throughout this campaign, effectively. I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has. My question for President Bush is: Why did he rush to war without a plan to win the peace?" Kerry, according to CBS Evening News, "was responding to an earlier challenge from President Bush, who is unwavering about sending US troops to Iraq in the first place." President George W. Bush was shown saying, "Knowing what I know today, I would have made the same decision." Bush "had challenged his competitor to do the same thing," saying, "And by the way, I think that candidates for president must say yes or no, whether or not they would have made the same decision." The Arizona Republic reports that "the primary thing Kerry said he would have done differently" from Bush "would be to have a plan to win the peace. Kerry voted in October 2002 to give President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq, but the Democrat has since criticized the president about war policies." Two weeks ago when Kerry accepted the nomination he promised America, "I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war."
Kerry's comments got attention from local TV stations such as KPHO-TV in Phoenix, which noted that "as Kerry answered questions on at environment, reporters quickly turned the attention towards Iraq. The Senator wasted no time criticizing President Bush's war plan insisting it is time for a change." Kerry was shown saying, "American presidents should not send American forces into war without a plan to win the peace." In Milwaukee, WITI-TV Milwaukee, also reports on Kerry's statement that "he would authorize a war in Iraq knowing what he knows now" after "repeated challenges by President Bush for a yes or no answer on the subject."
Kerry Said To Have Provided Contradictory Answers On Iraq Plan.
The Washington Post says in this morning's edition that since last month's Democratic National Convention, Kerry "has been under mounting pressure to provide a clearer explanation of his views on the war, including why he voted for the congressional resolution authorizing the invasion yet opposed funding for it." The Post adds, "In the past, Kerry has said he would want to talk to commanders in the field before determining troop size and never ruled out increasing US forces if needed. Later, he set a goal of reducing troops by the end of his first term. In an interview last week with National Public Radio, Kerry said he could 'significantly' reduce troops a year from now a position his aides quickly tried to soften. Stephanie Cutter, Kerry's spokeswoman, said his position has not changed."
Iran Could Be Next Foreign Policy Crisis Facing US. USA Today reports this morning the US and its European allies "appear to be nearing a diplomatic showdown with Iran over that country's suspected program to develop nuclear weapons." President Bush said yesterday "he expects 'a very strong statement regarding Iran's continued non-compliance with their international obligations' at a meeting next month in Vienna of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations' nuclear watchdog. 'The international community recognizes that we cannot afford to let Iran move forward on building nuclear weapons,' Bush said." Iran "experts say it is possible that the IAEA will ask the UN Security Council to consider diplomatic or economic sanctions. The European Union might reject expanded trade privileges for Iran or call for cutting back existing ties." The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, "in coordination with the United States, negotiated an agreement in October under which Iran suspended enrichment of uranium, which can fuel power plants or bombs." The Washington Times notes that in his comments yesterday in Virginia, Bush "pointed to his diplomatic response to Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons as proof of the sophistication of his foreign policy, which Democrats criticize as stubborn and too focused on fighting wars."
In his Washington Post column, Fareed Zakaria writes that "Kerry's repeated pledge to restore relations with US allies has struck a chord. The trouble is, if he is elected president, Kerry is going to find that promise hard to keep at least with America's allies in Europe. . . . Early into a Kerry administration, we could see a familiar sight a transatlantic crisis except this time it wouldn't be over Iraq but Iran. The threat to the United States from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, if they ever existed, is in the past. Iran, on the other hand, is the problem of the future." Europe "must be willing to play an active, assertive role. It must stop viewing itself merely as a critic of US policy and instead see itself as a partner, jointly acting to reduce the dangers of nuclear proliferation. And it should do this not as a favor to John Kerry but as a responsibility to its own citizens and those of the world."
Iraqi Defense Minister, Retired US General Say Iran Behind Insurgency.
The AP reports this morning that with fighting "raging for a fifth day in Najaf, Iraq's interim defense minister yesterday accused Iran of sending weapons to Shi'ite insurgents in the city. . . . Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan, who previously had described Iran as Iraq's 'first enemy,' made the comments about his country's eastern neighbor during an interview broadcast on the Arab-language television network Al Arabiya. 'There are Iranian-made weapons that have been found in the hands of criminals in Najaf who received these weapons from across the Iranian border,' Mr. Shaalan said." Retired US Air Force Gen. Thomas McInerney, on Fox News' Special Report, echoed that theme, saying, "We've got a perfect storm developing. You've got our election coming up in November, their election in January. There's a window of vulnerability here; Iran is behind it all. When Muqqi Sadr, Muqqi is what the troops call him, when he does anything, it's because Iran tells him. Iran is funding at least 30,000 Iraqis that are inside Iraq today, so they are behind what's going on. . . . They want to create this instability now in this window of vulnerability that I'm talking to about right now."
Franks Takes Blame For Bush Declaring "End To Major Combat."
The Washington Post reports that retired Gen. Tommy R. Franks "tried to take the blame yesterday for President Bush's much-criticized comments declaring an end to major combat in Iraq in 2003. 'That's my fault, that George W. Bush said what he said on the first of May of last year, just because I asked him to,' said Franks, former commander of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan."