John Kerry's Moral Advantage on Iraq
September 17, 2004
By Doug Snider
John Kerry testified on the war in Vietnam before the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee in April of 1971, he made the case for an honorable
end to the dishonorable war that many knew was already lost.
The attempt to turn the war effort over to the South Vietnamese
was proving as futile as the long struggle to pacify the south and
stem the flow of men and arms from the north. Four years and thousands
of American lives later, U.S. forces were ultimately forced to abandon
South Vietnam in a embarrassing retreat.
Now, in the bitterly contested 2004 presidential election, John
Kerry once again finds himself facing a Republican administration
waging and defending a war of choice gone terribly wrong.
Although Kerry supported giving the Bush administration the leverage
it needed to force Saddam Hussein to submit to the resumption of
international arms inspections, he adamantly opposed the unprovoked
pre-emptive invasion that topped the Bush agenda entering the White
Now that the United States is once again an occupying power supporting
a foreign government of its own design, John Kerry has the wisdom
and the courage to propose a reasonable exit from what can only
be called a quagmire.
The Bush administration is not interested in a clean and complete
exit from Iraq because that would mean the end of the neo-conservative
dream of American power dominating the troubled heart of the world's
oil reserves. The United States would be giving up a foothold in
the region and a stepping-off point to its future conquests.
John Kerry has taken the position that his administration will
bring the rest of the world to the table to help us end the strife
and give Iraq the means to enjoy true sovereignty and peace. The
obvious question is, will he be able to succeed in internationalizing
an American problem that Bush has created and aggravated by his
Publicly the world leaders who have opted out of Bush's dwindling
"Coalition of the Willing" have only privately hinted that they
might be more receptive to working with President Kerry. Their constituents
have been far less diplomatic in their outspoken embrace of John
What is easier to say with certainty is that these same leaders
have no desire to join a struggle that bears the odious mark of
George W. Bush. As the most reviled leader on the planet, Bush has
no chance of getting other nations to step forward to share the
burden of a worsening political and military situation.
In fact, Bush really has shown little desire to relinquish or share
control of a captive nation that he regards as vainly as the pilfered
trophies of a vanquished Saddam Hussein he keeps in the Oval Office.
Bush's many masters have left him with few options to extricate
us from this mess. Ceding his new protectorate to an Islamic theocracy,
however benign, would betray his pro-Israel base as well as his
fundamentalist Christian supporters. Abandoning the neo-conservative
crusade would end his usefulness to the people who put him in power.
Relinquishing control of Iraq's vast oil reserves would not be well
received by much of corporate America, his real political and philosophical
President John Kerry will not have to defend the mistakes that
got us embroiled in an Iraqi civil war or the deceptions used to
lead us there. He can be completely honest with the American people
and with the rest of the world.
Admitting the grave mistakes of his predecessor would not diminish
our nation's standing or moral authority in the least. It would
be a truly American thing to do. Being a superpower does not mean
we can never admit a mistake, George Bush's inability to do so notwithstanding.
John Kerry's heroic service in Vietnam and courageous opposition
upon his return from war empower him to say with authority that
sacrificing more young Americans will not honor those already fallen
in Bush's costly misadventure.
On November 2, 2004 our choice is simple. We either heed the proven
wisdom of John Kerry or allow George Bush to lead us deeper into
a self-inflicted disaster that is so much like the one John Kerry
warned us of thirty-three years ago.
Doug Snider is a Vietnam veteran who was serving in Vietnam
when John Kerry made his opposition to the war public.