By Alan Nathan © 2004

Throughout his campaign, and more recently in the first two presidential debates, Sen. Kerry has continued to argue that President Bush should have gone to war in Iraq only as a last resort – but he refuses to say what that last resort is. How can he credibly criticize anyone for prematurely crossing a line that he will not define for himself?
What’s more paradoxical is Bush’s reticence to exploit this vulnerability. I’ve interviewed Kerry’s top spokesperson Tad Divine, Foreign Relations Adviser Jamie Rubin, Senior Strategist Paul Begala and Democrat National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe and not one of them could articulate for Kerry what would have been that “last resort” trigger to war. I challenge any reporter to unearth it.

Easily discovered will be a myriad of other steps he would have taken:

1. Acquiring more allies, but no commitment to what number reaches his vague goal of “legitimacy”;
2. Granting the inspectors more time, but no commitment to when such time expires; and,
3. Returning to the U.N. Security Council for additional talks beyond Resolution 1441, but no commitment to when that diplomacy might end before it allows more danger than it prevents.

Alas, he has no point-of-finality backing any ultimatum and consequently challenges our enemies with the roar of a toothless tiger. Lamentably, on the policy of preemptive strikes, because we don’t know where he stands, we don’t know for what he stands. And though his kaleidoscopic arguments are legendary, these omissions of stance are not. It’s fortunate that Bush quips about the former, but he religiously misses the latter.

In early August, Sen. Kerry said that had he known before what he knows now about the missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he still would have voted for the Iraqi War Resolution. Now he claims that had he been president, he wouldn’t have gone after Saddam. (If his convictions were relationships, they’d all be one-night stands.)
Bush has frequently spoken against this WMD policy gaff, but with limited examples juxtaposed to the bounty that Kerry provides. The senator argues he’d never give a foreign government any veto power over America’s right to execute a military assault. However, by explaining that launching such an attack should first meet a “global test,” he effectively asserts in his denial what he denies having asserted.

Apropos of this come the many revelations of U.S. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer. In his report, we learn there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but that Saddam Hussein was hindering U.N. inspectors from discovering the WMD capabilities that he did possess.

The report also details Saddam’s plans for retaining the intellectual capability for reconstituting those weapons programs by dismantling the U.N. sanctions through bribes to U.N. officials like Assistant Secretary General Benon Savan and government leaders in China, Russia and France – three of the five permanent members of the U.N.
Security Council.

In short, this same report that convincingly shows how wrong we were on WMD also illustrates how Saddam turned the United Nations into a basket case of corruption. Given this update on the United Nations, should the United States any longer be remonstrated for not obeying its Security Council’s opposition? Since when do you pass muster with a jury getting paid off by the other side!

The report additionally exposed that Saddam wanted us to believe he had WMD so as to convince Iran as well. So it now seems that blaming us for attacking Iraq is like arresting a cop that shot a criminal for brandishing a fake gun– from a distance with each, one should err on the side of self-preservation. It’s baffling that in the second debate Bush never broached the corruption of this world body as just cause for dismissing its self-inflicted ignominy.

While the WMD issue was a valid concern, there was a far more potent justification for invading Iraq. The first Gulf War ceasefire was contingent upon Saddam’s compliance with the terms of surrender as set forth at Safwan Airbase in Iraq on March 3, 1991. Saddam violated the compliance, canceled the contingency and activated the cease-fire set-aside authorizing the resumption of military action against Iraq – and the United Nations was a party to that contingency. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t implement this immediately, but there was never a statute of limitations on this.

You have two sides at war – one surrenders to the other and then takes it back. Only the most cerebral maladroit believe that it’s incumbent upon the latter to honor terms broken by the former.