Yahoo! News - Kerry fleshes out blueprint for troop withdrawal from Iraq

News Flash: AFP Hears What It Wants To Hear

I'm as critical of Kerry as anyone, but I do at least listen to what the man is saying before I make up my mind about it. Consider this AFP story:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said he would set three conditions for withdrawing US troops from Iraq if he were elected, and warned that President George W. Bush might cut troop numbers ahead of the November 2 vote.

In an interview with the The Wall Street Journal, Kerry said the conditions were "to measure the level of stability" in Iraq, "to measure the outlook for the stability to hold" and "to measure the ability ... of their security forces" to defend Iraq.

Until each condition is satisfied, Kerry said, "I will provide for the world's need not to have a failed state in Iraq."


Kerry said he had "heard (it) said by many people" that Bush might be preparing to withdraw some troops from Iraq before the election, adding that he was prepared for anything.

"I'd put nothing past them," he added, referring to the White House.

Now, what does this say? It says that:
A) Kerry is pledging not to withdraw US forces until Iraq is stable, the stability is certain, and Iraqi security forces can obviously handle themselves.

B) Until then, Kerry promises not to withdraw forces, in order to "provide for the world's need not to have a failed state in Iraq."

C) Also, he thinks George Bush and the White House staff are a pack of untrustworthy liars.

What the Agence France Presse runs this story under is the headline, "Kerry Fleshes Out Blueprint for Troop Withdrawal From Iraq". He does nothing of the sort. Not only is this not a blueprint for withdrawal, it's a commitment to stay on for as long as it takes. These conditions could keep troops in Iraq for ten years, or two years, or five. This isn't a plan for how we'll withdraw, or even when we will: it's plan for when we won't.
Now that we've listened, we can critique.  The criticism is only this:  We realize that Kerry has a large constituency that, like France, wants to see us cut and run -- George Bush doesn't.  If staying the course is the option of choice, and it is, Bush is the candidate more likely to see it through.  This isn't to say that Kerry won't keep his commitments and campaign promises as well as any politician does.  It's just to say that, as circumstances change, Kerry will find a lot of his supporters agitating for an instant exit.  Bush's supporters won't be.
Oh, all right, a personal criticism too:  A president shouldn't promise to 'provide for the world's needs.'  First of all, it's hopelessly patrician (and they say Bush is arrogant!).  Second, it conflicts with his actual job, which is to protect and defend the Constitution against her enemies. 
Third, the President is an executive, not a provider.  All he does is oversee the expenditures, distributions and executions of the government.  The provision is made by the legislature, using the treasure of the taxpayer.  The President should remember that, and speak as a servant, not as a generous lord.  There is honor enough in service, for the man with eyes to see it.

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