Thursday, September 23, 2004

O'Reilly plays back John Kerry on December 11, 2001 

On tonight's O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly played back an old tape from the show of December 11, 2001 featuring an interview of John Kerry, then a potential presidential candidate. It was sufficiently entertaining that I backpedaled on Tivo and scribbled it down. Annotated, of course, for your reading pleasure.

O'Reilly described Joe Lieberman's hawkish views, and then asked if Kerry agreed with Lieberman.

Kerry - Essentially, yes. I'm not sure exactly what Joe means by that but we ought to put the heat on Saddam Hussein. I've said that for a number of years, Bill. I criticized the Clinton administration from backing off of the inspections when Ambassador Butler was giving us strong evidence that we needed to continue. I think we need to put the pressure on no matter what the evidence is about September 11, but we have to do it in a thoughtful, intelligent way. [Here, Kerry appears to agree with my view -- we needed to confront Saddam for reasons quite independent of September 11, or the war on terror.]

O'Reilly - Which is what? The guy is simply an out of control guy, and he's not going to respond to embargos, no fly zones... How would you put enough pressure on him to open up inspections?

Kerry - I'd reinvigorate that process as step number one, and I think the administration is now, suddenly, starting to move in that direction. [A bit snarky, all things considered. Bashing Bush, three months after September 11, for failing to focus on Iraq sooner!] I think we have to work our allies sufficiently to pull that component of the effort back together. But the second thing I would do and would not hesitate to do it is back opposition more openly and do it in a way that begins to put a counterinsurgency in the country itself. [This was always one of the alternative strategies for deposing Saddam. However, there were numerous problems with the "fostered insurgency" approach, as Kenneth Pollack addressed in detail in The Threatening Storm. The first objection was that Iraqi dissidents, having been burned once by the United States, would be reluctant to take mortal risks at our behest again. The second objection was that Saddam's military was powerful enough, even in its depleted state, to deal with a civil insurgency. The third objection was that the replacement of Saddam by fostered insurgency -- civil war, essentially -- would result in a dangerous power vacuum in Iraq that would be filled by Iranians Shiites, Sunni Islamists or an uncontrollable failed state that would work quite well as Al-Qaeda's next refuge. That may also turn out to be the result of the strategy ultimately used against Saddam -- full-scale invasion -- but it would have been the well-nigh inevitable result of the fostered insurgency approach.]

O'Reilly - So what do you do, drop heavy weapons to Kurds in the north and to Muslims who don't like him in the south?

Kerry - Bill, let me tell you, I was all for our following through at the end of the gulf war with the Kurd uprising and I thought it was a great betrayal in a sense that we encouraged them verbally, we gave them forces, we gave them weapons, we encouraged them and said we were with them and then we pulled out at the last minute because the Kuwaitis and the Saudis and others were unsure what might follow.

O'Reilly - That was a classic mistake, but if you arm the Kurds in the north of Iraq you're going to alienate potentially one of most valuable allies...

Kerry - I didn't say, necessarily, the Kurds. [Huh? I thought Kerry was "all for our following through ... with the Kurd uprising" after the Gulf War? The passing of intervening years seems to explain Kerry's flip-flop in Kerry's mind, but the passage of that decade would have had no bearing on the reaction of the Turks to the arming of the Kurds.] There are other members of the opposition. There are people who are outside the country prepared to go in [Was Kerry referring to the Iraqi National Congress and Mr. Chalabi? If not, somebody now should ask him if he can remember who he meant. Perhaps President Allawi, whom he savaged today.], there are others inside the country. I was in Safwan -- I went there when the signing of the armistice at the end of the war -- and I remember seeing that land which lent itself in my judgment considerably to the creation of almost an enclave which I thought we should have done then and which is one way to begin to approach things now, but there are other possibilities. The important thing now is that Saddam Hussein and the world knows that we think Saddam Hussein is essentially out of sync with the times. He is and has acted like a terrorist. [Here is Kerry linking a war against Saddam with the war on terror, back in 2001. This was long before any of the Bush Administration claims that Kerry now says "misled" him into casting his vote.]

O'Reilly - I still don't see the hammer....

Kerry - The hammer ultimately will be the evidence that we uncover as we go further down the trail that shows his support for terrorism and begins to build the coalition.

O'Reilly - Have you seen any evidence that's really compelling that hasn't come out yet?

Kerry - I have not seen any evidence yet with respect to the 11th, but there are avenues to pursue there. The important thing is that Saddam Hussein has used WMD, Saddam Hussein fired weapons on Israel, they took 29 or more Scuds without responding during the war. In addition to that, he has refused to live by the terms of the treaty that he signed at the end of the war in which he agreed to do certain things. He hasn't done those things yet, and the international community ought to hold him accountable for that. [The last point particularly was a compelling reason to dispose of Saddam's regime, and nothing that transpired in the following 15 months altered the fact of Saddam's lack of compliance with the original Gulf War armistice. If it was reason enough to remove Saddam in December 2001, it remained reason enough in March 2003.]

O'Reilly - But the IC won't. The international community are weenies. [Longer O'Reilly rant on weenietude of the "international community" omitted.]

Kerry - In the end we protect our own national security interests, and in the end I'm prepared for the United States to do what it has to do in order to do that. [Unilateralist!]

UPDATE (4:10 pm EDT, Friday): Captain's Quarter's is on the case. It looks as though Kerry was caught in another fib.


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