Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The Post Misleads

The Washington Post Editorial Board today makes a ridiculous charge based on this statement from John Kerry:

"With respect to getting our troops out, the measure is the stability of Iraq. [Democracy] shouldn't be the measure of when you leave. I have always said from day one that the goal here . . . is a stable Iraq, not whether or not that's a full democracy."

Using that statement, the Post editorial staff accused Kerry of revising his commitment to a democratic government in Iraq, then went on to steer readers into believing that Kerry will withdraw US troops from Iraq no matter what state the country is in; even if another dictator has taken control.

Mr. Kerry now argues that there is a third option. But what would that be? "I can't tell you what it's going to be," he said to reporters covering his campaign. "That stability can take several forms." True; in the Middle East, there is the stability of Islamic dictatorship, the stability of military dictatorship and the stability of monarchical dictatorship. In Lebanon, there is the stability of permanent foreign occupation and de facto ethnic partition. None is in the interest of the United States; all have helped create the extremism and terrorism against which this nation is now at war.

The Washington Post, "Mr. Kerry Revises," 04.21.2004

To facilitate this charge, the Post editorial takes Kerry's statement out of context. The original statement was made within the framework of a larger discussion on turning control of Iraq over to UN, after which the country would probably stabilize whether elections had yet been held or not.

In his most extended comments about Iraq since the eruption of new violence there that has left more than 80 American soldiers dead this month, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee charged that Bush failed in his news conference Tuesday night to offer a clear exit strategy or to show any willingness to cede authority to gain greater international cooperation.

Kerry said withdrawal of U.S. forces should be determined by whether Iraq has been stabilized, not whether it has achieved democracy. Democracy "shouldn't be the measurement of when you leave," Kerry told reporters at an afternoon news conference. "You leave with stability. You hope you can continue the process of democratization -- obviously, that's our goal. But with respect to getting our troops out, the measurement is the stability of Iraq."

Kerry said more international support would help take the focus off the U.S. occupation. "The minute you have that international acceptance, you begin to reduce some of the capacity of people to focus on the infidel United States and to focus their energies on our occupation alone."

The Washington Post, 04.15.2004

The "stability" Kerry mentions, and the "third option" which the Post found so troubling, clearly references turning authority of Iraq over to the UN. Kerry cannot tell the Post Ed's exactly what form the turnover will take because the UN, by means of special representative Lakhdar Brahimi, is still determining how the transfer of power to Iraqis will occur. Brahimi may decide that the June 30 transfer date should hold; he may recommend that elections not take place for another year. Regardless, any decision by the UN to accept control of Iraq will be affected his choice.

However, were the United Nations to take control of Iraq, three things would likely happen; all of which would result in a more stable Iraq than currently exists, though without elected Iraqi officials in place.

1) The arrival of the UN troops would relieve some of the burden placed on the American military, thus giving the US the option to begin withdrawing certain units from Iraq.

2) With the deployment of UN troops from several member nations, the American "face" on the occupation would be removed and violence fueled by anti-Americanism would decrease.

3) A democratic election process, at the recommendations of Brahimi, would be put into place and an election date announced.

With tours being extended once again, the burden placed on US forces in Iraq is incredible. Should the UN become involved and Brahimi decide that a fair election process will take up to a year to implement, it would be foolish to postpone leave for combat-weary American units. If Iraq stabilizes, the date of elections becomes arbitrary.