What Kerry should say about Iraq

I don’t regret giving the President of the United States the power to defend this country. What I regret is having a President who flat-out didn’t know how to do it.
Well, it’s too late to change he decision. But it’s not too late to change the President. To our troops in the field, and to our friends in Iraq, I say: Help is on the way.

Yes, I voted for the use-of-force resolution, and I’d do it again.

The President of the United States said that the government of Iraq was developing biological and nuclear weapons and might attack us with them or give them to terrorists. He asked for the authority to defend the country.

I voted to give him that authority. No President should ever be left in the position of facing a serious threat and not being allowed to act on it.

As it turns out, Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and wasn’t developing them. Therefore, there was no hurry about going to war.

We could have, and the President should have, waited to assemble a serious coalition, with real commitments by our allies to supply troops and money so that American soldiers and American taxpayers didn’t have to bear the full brunt of the effort.

Even within the rushed war planning based on the wrong information about nuclear and biological weapons, we had plenty of time to do a real plan to win the peace, with the forces, resources, and direction necessary to overcome what was certain to be a difficult period after military victory had come, as we all knew it would. Such a plan was in fact prepared by experts on Iraq within the government, and the Bush Administration proceded to ignore it, choosing instead to try to do the job on the cheap on the basis of a bunch of wishful thinking and reports from an exile known to be a con-man.

You can see the results in your morning newspaper. American soldiers have died for those mistakes. And the President keeps saying everything went fine.

I tell you, anyone can suffer a catastrophic defeat. It takes a real genius to manage a catastrophic victory.

I don’t regret giving the President of the United States the power to defend this country. What I regret is having a President who flat-out didn’t know how to do it.

Well, it’s too late to change he decision. But it’s not too late to change the President. To our troops in the field, and to our friends in Iraq, I say: Help is on the way.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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