Friday :: Jan 7, 2005

What Could Have Been


by pessimist

Back in 1952, while in the midst of the transition from the Truman Administration to the newly elected Republican adminstration, Dwight Eisenhower went to Korea to see for himself what the situation was. This was something he - or trusted and capablly experienced lieutenants - did during the victorious European Campaign against Adolph Hitler and German Fascism.

Yesterday, this report emerged out of Iraq:


Kerry cheered in Baghdad

Once criticized for war stance, he says force alone won't win, decries Bush team's 'blunders'

Sen. John Kerry, whose seemingly shifting positions on the U.S. war in Iraq plagued him throughout his presidential campaign, came to this war- torn capital Wednesday to see for himself whether the country was moving toward stability or deeper into chaos. Kerry, who repeatedly charged during the presidential campaign that President Bush had botched the war effort, was greeted warmly by U.S. soldiers in Baghdad. U.S. soldiers approached Kerry inside the restaurant of the Rashid Hotel, asking him to pose for photographs and sign T-shirts.

Now if only the real vote count was certified! The process to bring them home - alive and healthy - could begin.

"I've been visiting a lot places like Des Moines and Green Bay, and it has been great," the Massachusetts Democrat said during an informal lunch meeting with a small group of reporters and representatives of nongovernmental organizations. "But we are at war, and I think you can't really make all the judgments that you need to make without digging in."

Kerry attacked what he called the "horrendous judgments" and "unbelievable blunders" of the Bush administration. The mistakes, he said, included former U.S. occupation leader Paul Bremer's decisions to disband the Iraqi army and purge the government of former members of Hussein's Baath Party. Both moves are widely believed to have fueled the largely Sunni insurgency.

"What is sad about what's happening here now is that so much of it is a process of catching up from the enormous miscalculations and wrong judgments made in the beginning," he said. "And the job has been made enormously harder. No insurgency is defeated by conventional military power alone," Kerry said. "Look at the IRA," the Irish Republican Army, which fought a decadeslong guerrilla war against the British in Northern Ireland before a Catholic- Protestant power-sharing government was put in place. "It was defeated by a combination of time and political negotiation."

Unlike Eisenhower, John Kerry is - for whatever reasons - not a victorious President-elect. What is he doing in Iraq?

Kerry was scheduled to fly on a C-130 military transport plane today to visit troops in Fallujah and Mosul. The senator said he was more interested in asking questions of soldiers, U.S. officials, Iraqis and even the journalists themselves instead of rehashing the political battles of the past campaign season. "Mistakes have been made," he said. "Now, it's a different time and different set of judgments that have to be made. I'm here to make judgments about what moves are available to us."

This activity bears further watching.


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