[Marxism] A tactical debate

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Mar 10 12:03:48 MST 2004

Marvin Gandall wrote:
> The differences – though tactical – are not inconsequential; Kerry, for
> opportunistic electoral reasons and despite his misgivings, voted to
> give Bush the authority to invade Iraq (as he earlier voted for Reagan’s
> invasion of Grenada), but it is almost certainly true, as he maintains,
> that he would not as President have initiated action against Iraq
> without European support and reliable evidence of WMD.

This is an interesting question. Kerry insists that he voted for the war 
because he was misled. He based his vote on the "documentation" 
furnished by the CIA. If he has stated somewhere that he would have 
voted differently if he knew back then what he knows now (as even Colin 
Powell implied the other week), I haven't heard it.

Newsday (New York)
February 9, 2004 Monday

Kerry, Too, Needs to Clear the Air

BYLINE: By Scott Ritter. Scott Ritter, former UN chief inspector in 
Iraq, 1991-1998, is the author of "Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass 
Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America."

On April 23, 1971, a 27-year-old Navy veteran named John Kerry sat 
before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and chided members on their 
leadership failures regarding the war in Vietnam.

"Where is the leadership?" Kerry, a decorated hero who had proved his 
courage under fire, demanded of the senators. "Where are they now that 
we, the men they sent off to war, have returned?" Kerry lambasted those 
who had pushed so strongly for war in Vietnam. "These men have left all 
the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude."

Today, on the issue of the war in Iraq, it is John Kerry who is all 
pious rectitude.

"I think the administration owes the entire country a full explanation 
on this war - not just their exaggerations but on the failure of 
American intelligence," Kerry said following the stunning announcement 
by David Kay, the Bush administration's former lead investigator in 
Iraq, that "we were all wrong" about the existence of weapons of mass 
destruction in that country. The problem for Sen. Kerry, of course, is 
that he, too, is culpable in the massive breach of public trust that has 
come to light regarding Iraq, WMD and the rush to war.

Almost 30 years after his appearance before the Senate, Sen. Kerry was 
given the opportunity to make good on his promises that he had learned 
the lessons of Vietnam. During a visit to Washington in April 2000, when 
I lobbied senators and representatives for a full review of American 
policy regarding Iraq, I spoke with John Kerry about what I held to be 
the hyped-up intelligence regarding the threat posed by Iraq's WMD. "Put 
it in writing," Kerry told me, "and send it to me so I can review what 
you're saying in detail."

I did just that, penning a comprehensive article for Arms Control Today, 
the journal of the Arms Control Association, on the "Case for the 
Qualitative Disarmament of Iraq." This article, published in June 2000, 
provided a detailed breakdown of Iraq's WMD capability and made a 
comprehensive case that Iraq did not pose an imminent threat. I asked 
the Arms Control Association to send several copies to Sen. Kerry's 
office but, just to make sure, I sent him one myself. I never heard back 
from the senator.

Two years later, in the buildup toward war that took place in the summer 
of 2002, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which Kerry sits, 
convened a hearing on Iraq. At that hearing a parade of witnesses 
appeared, testifying to the existence of WMD in Iraq. Featured 
prominently was Khidir Hamza, the self-proclaimed "bombmaker to Saddam," 
who gave stirring first-hand testimony to the existence of not only 
nuclear weapons capability, but also chemical and biological weapons as 
well. Every word of Hamza's testimony has since been proved false. 
Despite receiving thousands of phone calls, letters and e-mails 
demanding that dissenting expert opinion, including my own, be aired at 
the hearing, Sen. Kerry apparently did nothing, allowing a sham hearing 
to conclude with the finding that there was "no doubt" Saddam Hussein 
had WMD.

Sen. Kerry followed up this performance in October 2002 by voting for 
the war in Iraq. Today he justifies that vote by noting that he only 
approved the "threat of war," and that the blame for Iraq rests with 
President George W. Bush, who failed to assemble adequate international 
support for the war. But this explanation rings hollow in the face of 
David Kay's findings that there are no WMD in Iraq. With the stated 
casus belli shown to be false, John Kerry needs to better explain his 
role not only in propelling our nation into a war that is rapidly 
devolving into a quagmire, but more importantly, his perpetuation of the 
falsehoods that got us there to begin with.

President Bush should rightly be held accountable for what increasingly 
appears to be deliberately misleading statements made by him and members 
of his administration regarding the threat posed by Iraq's WMD. If such 
deception took place, then Bush no longer deserves the trust and 
confidence of the American people.

But John Kerry seems to share in this culpability, and if he wants to be 
the next president of the United States, he must first convince the 
American people that his actions somehow differ from those of the man he 
seeks to replace.

"Where is the leadership?" John Kerry asked more than 30 years ago, 
questioning a war that consumed life, money and national honor. Today 
this question still hangs in the air, haunting a former Navy combat 
veteran who needs to convince a skeptical nation that he not only has a 
plan to get America out of Iraq, but also possesses the leadership 
skills needed to avoid future ill-advised adventures.


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