Saturday, August 07, 2004

Kerry-Think about Iraq 

One of the primary characteristics of the way Bush thinks about issues is the simplistic black/white comparison - you're either for us or against us. The attraction of this kind of thinking is exactly its simplicity -- its easy to grasp, easy to apply to just about any situation.
The media gets sucked into this, as do the rest of us.
I have seen some media stories recently which conclude, because Kerry is not vocally opposed to the Iraq war, that therefore Kerry's position on the war is the same as Bush and there is no difference between them. Sometimes this comes from right-wing commentators who conclude without any evidence that Kerry would have no more success than Bush would in disentangling America from this mess, and I see it also from left-wingers who themselves are opposed to the war and who want Kerry to state some kind of anti-war position.
But its all Bush-Think -- simplistic, easy, wrong.
The Iraq war is too much of a mess now for any more Bush-Think, either by Bush himself or by the media -- or by me. So I looked into what Kerry actually does plan to do in Iraq.
Sure enough, its complicated. It is also uniquely Kerry. Call it Kerry-Think -- complex, challenging, strategic, and goal-oriented.
Kerry's goal is to extricate America from this mess before they actually lose the war, and simultaneously to make America safer by ensuring that Iraq does not descend into anarchy. Talk about complex -- it could be one of those Mission Impossible scripts -- "Your mission, Mr. Kerry, if you chose to accept it, is to get the American troops safely home while also ensuring that the country they leave behind will not be a danger to America or to its neighbours."
And as I am beginning to appreciate what Kerry wants to do, I am beginning to think that perhaps this actually is possible -- maybe Kerry can actually pull this off.
Here is the key part of Kerry's Plan for America:
Having gone to war, we cannot afford to fail at peace. We must take immediate measures to prevent Iraq
from becoming a failed state that inevitably would become a haven for terrorists and a destabilizing force in
the Middle East. We must now forge a new policy based on what we know and on what will be most effective. We still have an opportunity to prevent Iraq from becoming a failed state and a haven for global terrorists and Islamic
extremists. We can still succeed in promoting stability, democracy, protection of minority and women’s rights,
and peace in the region if we construct and follow a realistic path. To accomplish this, America must do the hard work
to get the world’s major political powers to join in this mission. We must build a real coalition of countries to
work together to achieve our mission in Iraq; the international community shares the stakes—they should
share the political and military burdens. To do that, of course, we must share responsibility with those nations
that answer our call, and treat them with respect. We must lead—and we must listen.

Bush and the people around him are incapable of undertaking such a complex task and so will ridicule anyone who would attempt it -- but basically this approach is America's only hope to achieve any kind of success with this misbegotten war, and I think Kerry has both the leadership skills and the international credibility to do it.

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