Kerry Counters Bush / McCain on Iraq
"I wish President Bush knew better than to dishonor America's veterans by playing the politics of fear and smear on Veterans Day. Instead of trying to salvage his slumping political fortunes, the Commander in Chief should honor our men and women in uniform with a clear strategy for success in Iraq. But this Administration abandoned that path long ago, and our troops have paid the price for it.
"This administration misled a nation into war by cherry-picking intelligence and stretching the truth beyond recognition. That's why Scooter Libby has been indicted. That's why a statement in the State of the Union Address was retracted. It's a dangerous day for our national security when an Administration's word is no good. Today they continue the same games hoping Americans forget the mess they made in Iraq that's cost over 2,000 Americans their lives and their failure to find Osama bin Laden. Americans will not forget, and neither will those of us who defend our country by asking tough questions and demanding a new course in Iraq."
"The path forward in Iraq must defeat the insurgency and keep faith with our troops, rather than be driven by the politics of the Republican base or rigid adherence to President Bush’s aimless course. The plan I have offered would correct our course. The speech Sen. McCain delivered does not," Kerry said today.
"I disagree with my friend Sen. McCain’s mischaracterization of my plan to succeed in Iraq and bring our troops home within a reasonable timeframe. The way forward in Iraq is not to pull out precipitously or merely promise to stay ‘as long as it takes.’ To undermine the insurgency, we need to pursue both a political settlement and the withdrawal of American combat forces linked to specific, responsible benchmarks - beginning with the completion of successful December elections. These additional troops are in Iraq only for the purpose of providing security for the upcoming elections. If they remain in Iraq after that benchmark is achieved, it only exacerbates the sense of American occupation," said Kerry.
"While some say we can’t ask tough questions because we are at war, I believe that during wartime we must ask the hardest questions of all. It’s essential if we want to correct our course and do what’s right for our troops instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. No matter what anyone says, providing a better course isn’t a road to disaster, it’s patriotism," Kerry added.