John Kerry - harsh on Saddam since 1997
David Adesnik at Oxblog goes back over a Kerry speech on Saddam Hussein from November, 1997, and thinks that Kerry sounds Bush-like. Kerry said:
[Saddam Hussein] cannot be permitted to go unobserved and unimpeded toward his horrific objective of amassing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. This is not a matter about which there should be any debate whatsoever in the Security Council, or, certainly in this Nation. If he remains obdurate, I believe that the United Nations must take, and should authorize immediately, whatever steps are necessary to force him to relent -- and that the United States should support and participate in those steps.
Saddam Hussein, who unquestionably has demonstrated a kind of perverse personal resiliency, may be looking at the international landscape and concluding that, just perhaps, support may be waning for the United States's determination to keep him on a short leash via multilateral sanctions and weapons inspections.
In my judgment, the Security Council should authorize a strong U.N. military response that will materially damage, if not totally destroy, as much as possible of the suspected infrastructure for developing and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, as well as key military command and control nodes.
I believe it is important for [the Security Council] to keep prominently in mind the main objective we all should have, which is maintaining an effective, thorough, competent inspection process that will locate and unveil any covert prohibited weapons activity underway in Iraq. If an inspection process acceptable to the United States and the rest of the Security Council can be rapidly reinstituted, it might be possible to vitiate military action.
If Saddam Hussein is permitted to go about his effort to build weapons of mass destruction and to avoid the accountability of the United Nations, we will surely reap a confrontation of greater consequence in the future.
To Adesnik, "The real irony here is that Kerry actually makes the case for attacking Saddam far more eloquently than Bush."
Unfortunately for lovers of irony, Kerry makes the case for a war against Iraq in some sort of alternate world, rather than the world in which Bush started the war in March of 2003. A world where there are weapons of mass destruction, but no weapons inspectors, in Iraq. In other words, a world like the one that existed when Kerry was making his speech in 1997, rather than the world of March '03, when the opposite was true.
So did Kerry then turn from hawk into dove? Well, reread the lines of his 1997 speech. He spoke with bluster in 1997 (like "some sort of Texas cowboy", says Adesnik), but it was all about the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. He makes it clear that he's not advocating war for war's sake, and that his call to arms would quiet down if we could get some arms inspectors in Iraq (though Adesnik considers this to be an irremediably Kerry-esque "bit of nuance"). It's all about keeping weapons of mass destructions out of Saddam's hands, by war if necessary, and through the United Nations, if possible. If you keep your eye on the ball and don't let it stray to the birds, the same message comes through loud and clear in his October 2002 speech:
As bad as he is, Saddam Hussein, the dictator, is not the cause of war. Saddam Hussein sitting in Baghdad with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction is a different matter.
And he's still referencing the same tune in September of 2004, "Instead, the President rushed to war without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work." For some reason, though, the intervening events of the past two years have caused him to change his emphasis. Instead of focusing his talk on why it is important to keep weapons of mass destruction out of Saddam's hands (and only mentioning that things might not work out well "if we go it alone without reason" as a symptom of his irremediably Kerryish nuance) , he's spending a lot of time talking about why we shouldn't have gone to war in March of 2003, all of the mistakes that Bush made in Iraq, what the current conditions are in Iraq, and what needs to be done to improve the situation in Iraq. I'll leave it to you to decide what to think about why in the world Kerry might have started talking so much about these other things. Does it mean that he's turned into a hopeless dove who wants to kiss the feet of the French and the UN? Or might there be some other explanation?