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« Move Along, Folks, Nothing To See Here | Main | The Hokey Pokey »

A Sensible Democrat

It's not just Joe Lieberman any more. Bob Kerrey:

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

The key question for Congress is whether or not Iraq has become the primary battleground against the same radical Islamists who declared war on the U.S. in the 1990s and who have carried out a series of terrorist operations including 9/11. The answer is emphatically "yes."

This does not mean that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; he was not. Nor does it mean that the war to overthrow him was justified--though I believe it was. It only means that a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq would hand Osama bin Laden a substantial psychological victory.

My only dispute with that it that I remain unconvinced that bin Laden is still alive. But his movement certainly lives on, and it would remain a victory for it.

Posted by Rand Simberg at May 22, 2007 05:36 AM
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I am gratified that Mr. Kerrey is writing now. I wonder whether he was discussing this with leaders of the Democratic party over the past couple years.

If so, then what does that say about today's Democratic leadership?

If not, then what does one make of the de facto encouragement the neck-slicers have taken from the vocalized disengagement desires of the Democrats? Does Kerrey bear any responsibility if he did not use his influence (privately, then publicly) sooner?

I don't have a well-formed opinion on this.

Any ethicists out there want to take a swing at this?

Posted by MG at May 22, 2007 11:09 AM

On September 13, 2002, just as Congress was debating whether to approve a resolution providing President Bush the authority to use force against Iraq, former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

“The real choice is between sustaining a military effort designed to contain Saddam Hussein and a military effort designed to replace him. In my mind the case for the second choice is overwhelming. … Regime change is the only way we can safely reduce our military commitment to the region.”

In calling for regime change, Kerrey displayed an inability to comprehend the predictable chaos that would ensue. The intelligence community warned the Bush administration in January 2003 that regime change “would result in a deeply divided Iraqi society prone to violent internal conflict.”

In December 2003, an undeterred Kerrey claimed that he had been vindicated and Iraq war critics would ultimately be proven wrong. “Twenty years from now, we’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who says it wasn’t worth the effort,” he wrote.

Today, Bob Kerrey (D-NE), unrepentant over his failed Iraq war predictions, returns to the Wall Street Journal op-ed page to blast “American liberals.” In making his argument that democracy can indeed be imposed by military force (apparently by overlooking the Iraq war), Kerrey writes:

“American liberals need to face these truths … [A] unilateral withdrawal from Iraq would hand Osama bin Laden a substantial psychological victory.”

Perhaps he should have thought about that before advocating regime change as “the only way” to “safely reduce our military commitment to the region.” By staying in Iraq as an occupying force, the U.S. is helping inflame the terrorist movement. But Bob Kerrey has never understood that from the beginning, so why would he understand that now?

Posted by Alexander Perry at May 22, 2007 11:48 AM


Please explain to me how our current occupation of Iraq "inflamed the terrorist movement" such that they were driven to fly jets into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. And please keep in mind that physics pretty much dictates that the time line flows in one direction....

Posted by nukemhill at May 22, 2007 01:21 PM

These are all just little details nukem that the leftist just don't have time to work out. It is all about the big picture, man. The evil global corp empire had this all figured out from the beginning and only a very few are smart enough to see past all the little details and uncover their fiendish plot.

Posted by Josh Reiter at May 22, 2007 07:46 PM

For cryin' out loud. Let's not be TOO anxious to jump on those with whom we disagree. Mr. Perry's post does not provide the least intimation that he is arguing that the occupation of Irag was a cause of the 9/11 attacks. I think he is merely saying that he believes that the occupation further inflames the jihadists. At the least, it surely provides more grist for their anti-Western philosophy and raison d'etre. And that is pretty hard to dispute.

Posted by Dave Hoerr at May 22, 2007 08:28 PM

Dave's point is somewhat off-target. Nobody was suggesting that the occupation of Iraq was the cause of 9/11 (without a time machine, this would be difficult), nor does it make much sense to argue that anyone could (without said time machine) believe it.

With that said, does anyone seriously want to argue that the Islamists really needed any other excuses to attack us? These folks have been calling for our deaths for well over a decade (actually much longer, but at least that long quite publically) before 9/11, and there seems little doubt that short of the destruction of our civilization, there was very little that was going to satisfy them.

The 'terrorist movement' (we are now going to dignify these criminals with the appellation 'movement'?, why not 'community'?) needed no inflamation, it was sufficiently inflamed already. A backwards and corrupt appendage to a religion almost tailor made for such extremists, infested with hucksters posing as holy men who exploit the alienation and ignorance of the arab world's almost endless supply of extraneous young males (extraneous as a result of their own society's manifold failings), the very notion that anything that we could say or do would give them more reason to attack us is simply risible.

Lets remember that during the 90s, when Clinton, NOT Bush was president, and the US was NOT 'in the grip' of the dreaded neocon-chickenhawk-Hilburtonoids, all of this was being planned and put into motion. We know this not because of the CIA or through Administration talking points, but by the freely given and proudly made statements of the perpetrators themselves. Hence the very suggestion that the policies undertaken by this administration have somehow inflamed the terrorists fails even the simplest test.

Posted by Scott at May 22, 2007 10:49 PM

Could someone please explain to me how a terrorist "movement" (such a term smears the people of the Civil Rights "movement") needs us in Iraq to have a reason to continue to kill?

The reality is that they don't need a reason, and will craft justifications that suffice only to their followers.

If Osama bin Laden could point to the Reconquista, and to the modernization of Turkey, and to the removal of East Timor from Indonesian rule, then does it make sense that Iraq is the "real" reason?

Mr. Perry, could you articulate which specific predictions Kerrey made that have since been proven untrue? The "twenty years from now" prediction isn't yet ripe for judgement, and I don't see any other predictions in your post that are already demonstrated to be not borne out by events.


Posted by MG at May 22, 2007 11:26 PM

No, Mr. Perry's right. Don't you remember how it "inflamed the Germans" when we landed in France? We just have to give up on fighting the enemy--it might make him mad.

Posted by Rand Simberg at May 23, 2007 05:08 AM

"inflamed the Germans"

That was the naplam.

Posted by D Anghelone at May 23, 2007 03:57 PM

Or napalm.

Posted by D Anghelone at May 23, 2007 04:13 PM

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