The Talking Dog

September 20, 2004, Kerry's Big Iraq Speech

Via Diana, I give you this text of Senator Kerry's remarks at New York University today.

Let me make it easy: while many will laud the speech, I'm torn between giving it a C+ and B-. Yes, he's finally talking about the right thing, and in the right (asshole tough guy) way. AND he's mentioning Al Qaeda and OBL (FINALLY-- SOMEONE IS MENTIONING THEM!)

His proposed Iraq solution, however, is a fantasy, is wrong, and will piss people off (I must tell you, I'M pissed off by it). His answer: "Go begging for help from our allies and the UN".

Unacceptable. I'm voting for him anyway, and frankly, I would urge every American of good will to do the same. But his answer to this-- THE BALLGAME QUESTION-- is... unacceptable.

WE have the world's only viable military up to this job that won't cause more problems (Israel has a large, first world military, but its presence in Iraq would, quite quickly, cause a world war. Russia and China have large militaries, but we want them nowhere near Iraq.) France and Germany-- which is, after all, the code for what Kerry is saying-- just don't have the troops, let alone the national will, to be of much (or any) meaningful help. And summit meetings are... horseshit.

No, Iraq is our-- and ONLY-- our problem (and the Iraqis, of course). And no points are taken off for blaming the mess on Bush (even as Kerry only tangentially acknowledged his own role in voting for the God damned war.)

Here's the thing. We have exactly three answers to Iraq: (1) Simply leave. Since the place is destabilizing into civil war ANYWAY, why bother getting OUR OWN people killed anymore in the vacuum. Its not like its going to be all that worse, frankly, than it is now. It will eventually stabilize as some sort of Iranian style theocracy, after a few thousand people (more) are killed. (2) Do what we're doing now. Continue to pour money and American lives down the rathole, while more and more territory becomes "No-go" zones (like, oh, Fallujah, Sadr City, and other population centers). (3) Break the country up. Oh, officially it would be one country, as Switzerland is, but like Switzerland, it would REALLY be ethnically homogenous cantons, linked together by a VERY loose and weak central government. The Kurds can police the Kurds; Sunnis can police the Sunnis, Shia the Shia, Turkmen the Turkmen, etc. Cantons that play nice nice-- like the Kurds, for example, get fast elections, and a bigger piece of the oil revenue. Cantons that decide to be assholes (Fallujah comes to mind) won't get elections, or oil money, and can merrily kill themselves, without OUR troops being there taking bullets. Its easy: 4, 5, maybe 6 or 7 different little enclaves each effectively a country, under a loose umbrella- common currency, free trade zone, one UN seat, etc.-- but the problem broken up.

There are NO other options that do not smack of the realm of fantasy. Given that Kerry's prior grade on this subject had been, well, an F, the C+/B- is a huge improvement. (Bush, as usual, phoned in his assignment, and his grade is "incomplete".) But the country WANTS COMFORT ON THIS. At least Kerry is starting to take it on. That's good. I realize he can't openly talk about just pulling out. But many others have, for example, talked about the "rolling elections" concept: regions that behave get elections, regions that do not, don't. The more regions of Iraq are under Iraqi control, the more regions we can leave, quietly reducing our deployment, until all that's left is a training force, and maybe border control.

I'm delighted to see Kerry taking on this (ballgame) subject. As the electoral battle goes on (43 days to go...) I have little doubt he will pour on the vitriol, and give it to Bush over this (Bush's fantasies about "all is well" should be shoved back in his face as often as possible.)

UPDATE: I've decided to heed Kerry's entreaties, and raise his grade to B+/A-; the American people are stupid, and he can't actually say what he will actually do, so he must talk in oblique nonsense, just like his opponent. He has ignored Clinton's advice, and is taking the national security issue back to Bush. You get 'em, Fightin' John!!!


I'll tell you what's really annoying me: it's that every adviser in the country says Kerry must have a plan, while none of them seem to see that Bush neither has a plan nor is capable of enunciating one. When will the double standards be done with?

I liked the litany in the speech:
xxx - wrong
yyy - wrong
zzz - wrong

That's effective, or should be.

Posted by Linkmeister at September 20, 2004 8:22 PM

Did you read the same speech that I did?
Kerry says absolutely nothing except that W stands for wrong.
His solution-get our "allies" to contribute. Ingenious.
He begs France to be Bill Clinton, and that they allow Kerry to be Monica Lewinsky.
Over a year into his campaign, and into the Iraqi campaign, he still has nothing to say. Stop reading things into his speeches in order to justify the compulsion to unseat George Bush.

Posted by They Call Me Mr. Crabcake at September 20, 2004 9:16 PM

Yes, Bush gets a pass on everything, as he has for the last 4 years, and indeed, really for the last TEN years. Oh fuck: his WHOLE FUCKING LIFE has been one big God damned pass. A fuck up in school, a fuckup in business, a fuckup in office-- and pass after pass after pass. Its the way it is. No time to bitch about it now.

Kerry has to convey a comfort factor: HE IS THE CHALLENGER. Its his job.

Are you reading the same POST I am? What part of "unacceptable" eludes you? I SAID I am PISSED OFF that he insists on "France, Germany and the UN will save us".

He's attacking Bush. THAT'S AN UNMITIGATED GOOD. Have you listened to Bush? His campaign is "Look over there!" He has NOTHING. He's attacking kerry. Let Kerry attack back-- only harder and more viciously.

Posted by the talking dog at September 20, 2004 11:29 PM

In order to be elected, Kerry has to be optimistic. Only a liar can be optimistic about the present situation. Conclusion: Kerry should be a liar.

Not as bad a liar as Bush, the worst President in American history.
But enough to be elected.

Bush's version of Sharon's "facts on the ground" is "I fucked things up so bad that KERRY HAS NO IDEA HOW TO FIX THEM!" And also: "Kerry screwed up. HE TRUSTED ME!"

I really think that we're watching the triumph of evil -- though Kerry could still win.

Also, the Switzerland analogy blows. The Swiss have a commitment to Switzerland which overrides their other potential loyalties. Most improbably country in the world.

Posted by Zizka at September 21, 2004 1:07 AM

"But many others have, for example, talked about the "rolling elections" concept: regions that behave get elections, regions that do not, don't."

I can see the rationale there, but will it work? How do we convince Iraqis that the elections held over here, but not over there, are legitimate? Who decides which regions are "behaving"? Us, or...our hand-picked leaders who are currently in place?

Posted by Haggai at September 21, 2004 9:39 AM


Switzerland fails by analogy if you think Iraq will be Switzerland-- a white, affluent, Christian country.

What holds Swiss nationalism together is the one institution all Swiss (males) participate in: the Swiss army. (Sweden and Israel have a similar arrangement, though only Israel perpetually ENGAGES its military). Had Bremer not (thank YOU Super Ahmed) disbanded the Iraqi military, IT could have done this job ("General, you work for us now. Cross us, and you can expect a bullet in your head.") Poor Planning leads to Poor Performance. (But hey, look who gets to sit in the Oval Office, right?)

But it doesn't have to work well: just "well enough", so we can draw down, say, 80-90% of our current deployment, largely to border patrol, and MAYBE inter-regional matters.

Frankly, the Kurdish autonomous area has done very well; its ostensibly a canton.


One guy decides legitimacy: Sistani (please God he lives a while). We make the call as to whose being good- but he can veto it.

If we had followed these two little rules (1) keep the army intact (2) ask
Sistani's advice on everything, Iraq would not be an explosive shithole careening hopelessly out of control killing dozens of Americans every month.

Notice you didn't hear Kerry criticizing Bush on EITHER of those two bases. As I said in the post, though, the AMerican people are STUPID (if not largely brain dead). They expect life to be a God damned sit com that works out in 22 minutes with a laugh and a hug. Unfortuantely, that's what Kerry has to sell.

Posted by the talking dog at September 21, 2004 11:04 AM

If we start out by saying that we'll decide which regions get to vote and which ones don't, I think we'll have our work cut out for us, even if we quickly add "only if it's OK with Sistani." You're certainly right that Sistani is the only one who commands anything close to broad legitimacy among most Iraqis, but I don't think anyone's going to like the sound of "elections over here, but not over there" no matter who claims to be in charge of it. Not that I have any particularly better ideas on what to do.

Posted by Haggai at September 21, 2004 2:39 PM