A Spit-Take Moment

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

John O’Neill, head of the "Swift Boat Veterans For Truth" (the group that circulated unfounded rumors about Kerry’s Vietnam service) is back at it, engaging in more historical rewrites.

Just read this sentence from O’Neill’s op-ed in The New York Sun (subscription required):

Are the politicians like Mr. Kerry who led the campaign to send our kids to war (when it was popular) now to withdraw support while they are locked in combat and apparently succeeding because the task is difficult or unpopular?

That’s right.  John Kerry "led the campaign" for the Iraq invasion.

Now, Kerry can be faulted for many things, and chief among them is his vote which gave Bush the authorization to go to war, if needed.  But casting that vote is not the same thing as endorsing the invasion.  Kerry himself explained this over a year ago:

Two years ago, Congress was right to give the President the authority to use force to hold Saddam Hussein accountable.  This President. any President. would have needed the threat of force to act effectively.  This President misused that authority.

The power entrusted to the President gave him a strong hand to play in the international community.  The idea was simple.  We would get the weapons inspectors back in to verify whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  And we would convince the world to speak with one voice to Saddam: disarm or be disarmed. 

A month before the war, President Bush told the nation:  "If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible.  We will plan carefully.  We will act with the full power of the United States military.  We will act with allies at our side and we will prevail."  He said that military action wasn’t "unavoidable." 

Instead, the President rushed to war without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work.  He went without a broad and deep coalition of allies.   He acted without making sure our troops had enough body armor.  And he plunged ahead without understanding or preparing for the consequences of the post-war. None of which I would have done.

Yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way.  How can he possibly be serious?  Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq?  My answer is no – because a Commander-in-Chief’s first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe.

So we see that once again, O’Neill is lying.  Or, to use the slang he unwittingly helped to popularize, he’s "swiftboating".  Again.