John Kerry’s ‘Real Security For America’ Speech: “The Bush-Cheney Administration Has Engaged in a Policy of Cut and Run in Iraq”by Pamela Leavey
In a short time John Kerry will step up to the podium at Faneuil Hall in Boston and deliver this speech, below that speaks to the heart of Americans who are fed up with the failed policies and lies and of the Bush administration. And speaking of the lies of the Bush administration….
The news is out about the report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday, that there were no “prewar ties between Saddam Hussein’s government and an operative of Al Qaeda, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”
The disclosure undercuts continuing assertions by the Bush administration that such ties existed, and that they provided evidence of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The Republican-controlled committee, in a second report, also sharply criticized the administration for its reliance on the Iraqi National Congress during the prelude to the war in Iraq.
The conclusions of the Senate Intel report go far beyond their earlier report, released in the summer of 2004, and include criticism not only of CIA and American intelligence agencies but also of the Bush administration. Clearly the report backs up what John Kerry and other Democratic leaders have said for some time.
The Democratic Daily has received an advance copy of John Kerry’s ‘Real Security’ speech. The text is as follows:
‘Real Security For America’
The war on terror that was brought home to the Casey family on a sunny autumn morning that suddenly turned into midnight five years ago, also brought home for all of humanity the stark reality that we are in a fateful contest between forces of evil and hate and the defenders of progress and hope.
The outcome will determine whether our children live in freedom or fear. This is a clash between humanity’s best ideals and the darkness of superstition and oppression. And this is not a clash of faiths: the true Islam is a faith to live by, not a call to terrorize and kill.
In this war, the war against terrorism, there is no substitute for victory. I don’t know a single American who needs a politician to remind them that we have to win this fight.
On Monday, we will commemorate our largest loss of civilian life on a single day in American history. As we remember the horror, the unforgettable shock, and the pride in those who rushed to the rescue, it is our duty to take account as a nation of where we have come since that terrible moment and where we must go if we are to keep America safe in these perilous times.
Since the beginning, at critical moments in our nation’s history, Americans have gathered here at Faneuil Hall to find a better way forward. This is where Americans first agreed on our nation’s promise and where they have gathered ever since to help our country keep it.
That is why you and I have convened here four times so far this year – to chart a new course, for a nation that has been misled on global climate change, misled on health care, misled on fundamental constitutional values, and misled into a war that was based on a lie, a war that can and must be brought to a close.
Donald Rumsfeld – the man who should have been fired as Secretary of Defense long ago – Donald Rumsfeld recently gave a low and ugly speech in which he smeared those who dissent from a catastrophic policy, and then spoke of “moral confusion.”
Well, there certainly is a lot of moral confusion around these days.
It is immoral for old men to send young Americans to fight and die in a conflict without a strategy that can work – on a mission that has not weakened terrorism but worsened it.
It is immoral to lie about progress in that war to get through a news cycle or an election.
It is immoral to treat 9/11 as a political pawn – and to continue to excuse the invasion of Iraq by exploiting the 3,000 mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who were lost that day. They were attacked and killed not by Saddam Hussein but by Osama bin Laden.
And it is deeply immoral to compare a majority of Americans who oppose a failing policy and seek a winning one to appeasers of Fascism and Naziism.
The leaders of this administration have shown in recent days that they will say anything, do anything, twist any truth, and endanger our nation’s character as one America in a desperate ploy to survive a mid term election.
But Americans now see through this charade. They know the truth. We have a Katrina foreign policy – a succession of blunders and failures that have betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it.
Every time the administration is down in the polls, every time their political opponents at home appear to gain, they trot out of the fear card, instead of reinforcing in Americans “there is nothing to fear but fear itself,” they have nothing to offer but fear itself.
The President wants Americans to believe only one party wants to fight terror. That’s a cynical game to try to win an election. I believe we need a game plan to capture and kill Osama Bin Laden, not capture a few Congressional seats.
I believe we need national leadership capable of raising hopes and inspiring trust, not raising fears and demanding blind faith. We need to marshal all our resources – military, diplomatic, economic, and moral – and first and foremost always tell the truth to the American people.
That is why on the eve of this midterm election, we Democrats have a unique responsibility to carry our cause into every corner of the nation—not just to oppose what has failed but to propose a new direction that can restore a bipartisan foreign policy and that can defeat jihadist terrorism once and for all.
In order to change course, we must level with the American people about the magnitude of the challenge: we must face reality so we can change it.
This starts by leveling with the American people about Iraq’s true position in the overall fight against jihadism. The President pretends Iraq is the central front on the war on terror. It is not now, and never has been. The truth is, his disastrous decisions have made Iraq a fuel depot for terror – fanning the flames of conflict around the world.
There is simply no way to overstate how Iraq has subverted our efforts to free the world from global terror. It has overstretched our military. It has served as an essential recruitment tool for terrorists. It has divided and pushed away our traditional allies. It has diverted critical billions of dollars from the real front lines against terrorism and from homeland security. It has unleashed dangerous, pent-up forces of radical religious extremism. It has weakened moderate leaders in the Middle East. It has strengthened and played into Iran’s hand. It has diminished our moral authority in the world.
The demagogic drumbeat about fighting terrorists over there instead of here — even though they weren’t in Iraq until we went in, and it’s now a civil war we’re fighting — has compromised America’s real interests and made us less safe than we ought to be five years after 9/11. The true measure of that is the stark fact that worldwide terrorist attacks are at an all-time high and there are now more terrorists in the world who want to kill Americans than there were at the time of 9/11.
After all the tough talk of “Wanted Dead or Alive,” after the Administration bragged and boasted – they meekly backed off in the mountains of Tora Bora. Osama bin Laden escaped because the administration held back the best military in the world – our’s – and outsourced the job to local militias. Since then Al Qaeda has spawned a vast and decentralized network operating in 65 countries. Only Dick Cheney could call this a success.
The situation in Afghanistan deteriorates steadily, squandering the sacrifices of our troops and allies in the military campaign of 2002. The Taliban now controls entire portions of southern Afghanistan, and just across the border Pakistan is just one coup away from becoming a radical jihadist state with a full compliment of nuclear weapons. Only Don Rumsfeld could proclaim this a victory.
The Middle East is more unstable than it has been in decades. Our stalwart ally Israel is surrounded by emboldened enemies who talk of wiping it off the face of the earth. Hezbollah flags fly from rooftops in Shiia slums of Sadr City and Iran is rebuilding Southern Lebanon. Only an Administration trapped in its own falsehoods could say we are making progress in creating a new Middle East.
North Korea has quadrupled its nuclear weapons capability, and is defiantly testing missiles that could reach our shores. Iran is moving steadily towards membership in the nuclear club; has expanded its terrorist clientele from Hezbollah to Hamas; maintains thousands of agents in Iraq; and is governed by a fanatic who almost daily calls for Israel’s destruction. Only George W Bush could declare this ‘mission accomplished.’
The Bush-Cheney policies have limited our power to act decisively and the regime in Tehran knows it. We have over 130,000 American troops in Iraq in the middle of a seething Shiite population that would explode if we moved against Iran. Our troops and our foreign policy are held hostage by the neocon catastrophe in Iraq. Only this White House could name this a plan for victory.
And be forewarned: don’t be surprised if they hype the Iranian nuclear crisis come October if all other appeals to fear are failing as the mid-term election approaches.
We have an Iraqi Prime Minister sustained in power by our forces, who will not speak against the Hezbollah terrorists, who will not say that Israel has a right to exist, and who will not condemn the Iranian nuclear program. No American soldier should be asked to stand up for an Iraqi government that won’t stand up for freedom and against fear.
Here at home, too many things have not changed in the last five years. We learned on 9/11 painful lessons about the costs of a dysfunctional intelligence system marred by bureaucratic infighting, inadequate resources, and faulty analysis. Yet the 9/11 commission recently gave our own government a failing grade on implementing intelligence reforms. Today, our ability to intercept terrorist communications remains in a legal and constitutional limbo.
The Dubai port deal reminded us only a small percentage of cargoes entering U.S. ports are even inspected. Surely if we can inspect cargoes at the Baghdad airport, we can inspect cargoes at the airports in Los Angeles, New York, and right here in Boston.
This is the reality of the world today – a world more dangerous because of the Bush blunders and a challenge far more complicated than the gruff Cheney sound bites. America deserves – our safety depends—on a winning strategy to reverse this dangerous course and make our country more secure.
There are five principal priorities that demand immediate action: (1) redeploy from Iraq, (2) re-commit to Afghanistan, (3) reduce our dependence on foreign oil, (4) reinforce our homeland defense, and (5) restore America’s moral leadership in the world. These “5 R’s”—if you want to call them that– are bold steps Democrats will take to strengthen our national security, and that the Republicans who have set the agenda today resist to our national peril.
We must refocus our military efforts from the failed occupation of Iraq to what we should have been doing all along: tracking down and killing members of al Qaeda and their clones wherever they are. We must redeploy troops from Iraq – maintain enough residual force to complete the training and deter foreign intervention, so we can free up resources to fight the global war on terror.
Republicans want to wrap this strategy in slogans because they’re afraid to debate what it really is: a redeploy-to-succeed strategy – to succeed in defeating world wide terror, and to succeed in making Iraqis themselves responsible for Iraq.
This is the opposite of the administration’s stand-still-and-lose strategy – -a clear alternative from a broken policy of “more of the same.” Every time President Bush tells the Iraqis we will “stay as long as it takes,” he is giving squabbling politicians there an excuse to take as long as they want. All of us want democracy in Iraq but Iraqis must want it for themselves as much as we want it for them. It’s long overdue for the president to realize that no American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi factions refuse to resolve their ethnic rivalries and their competing grasp for oil revenues.
At each step along the way, the Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines-a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, a deadline to write a Constitution, a deadline to hold three elections. So we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet– a clear deadline of July, 2007 to redeploy our combat troops. Make Iraqis stand up for Iraq – and bring our heroes home.
We also desperately need something else this administration disdains: diplomacy. Real diplomacy — a Dayton-like summit of Iraq and the countries bordering it, the Arab League, NATO, and the Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council. Our own generals have said Iraq can not be solved militarily. Only through negotiation and diplomacy can you stem the growing civil war, and only by setting a deadline to get out can we force Iraq and its neighbors to take diplomacy seriously.
“Staying the course” isn’t far-sighted; it’s blind. Leaving our troops in the middle of a civil war isn’t resolute; it’s reckless. Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America’s leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion.
Neither can the Administration pretend that the war in Afghanistan is over or that the peace has been secured. On Thursday the president said we’re on the offensive against terrorists in Afghanistan, even as the American NATO commander on the ground showed the opposite is true by making an urgent plea for more troops.
The truth is– the Bush-Cheney Administration has engaged in a policy of cut and run in that country. This Administration has cut and run while the Taliban-led insurgency is running amok across entire regions of the country. The Administration has cut and run while Osama bin Laden and his henchmen hide and plot in a lawless no-man’s land. They cut and run even as we learn from Pakistani intelligence that the mastermind of the most recent attempt to blow up American airliners was an al Qaeda leader operating from Afghanistan – yes, from Afghanistan. That’s right – the same killers who attacked us on 9/11 are still plotting attacks against America and they’re still holed up in Afghanistan.
To avoid repeating the terrible mistakes of the past, we need to send significant reinforcements to Afghanistan: Start with at least five thousand additional American troops –more elite Special Forces troops, the best counter-insurgency units in the world; more civil affairs forces; and more experienced intelligence units. More predator drones to find the enemy, more helicopters to allow rapid deployments to confront them, and more heavy combat equipment to make sure we can crush the terrorists. And more reconstruction money so that the elected government in Kabul, helped by the United States, not the Taliban, helped by al Qaeda, rebuilds the new Afghanistan.
That’s how you win the hearts and minds of the local population, that’s how you win a war on terror, that’s how you show the world the true face of America.
America needs a national policy that understands we are threatened not just by gun barrels, but by oil barrels. The great treasury of jihadist terrorism is mideast oil. We fund both sides in the war on terror every time we fill up our gas tanks. We know how dependent we are on oil, but it’s not just us. We must liberate the Middle East itself from the tyranny of dependence on petroleum so that the region no longer feeds restive and rising populations of unemployed young people a diet of illusions and rationalizations paid for by our oil money.
Nothing will change if autocratic regimes keep pumping prosperity out of the ground to pay off a new generation with petrodollar welfare checks. We cannot change this if our oil money is sustaining the status quo.
We must end the Empire of Oil.
We can’t allow Energy independence to be used as a mere slogan, it has to be a solution. We need a revolutionary set of new policies to promote alternative fuels on a crash basis. This is essential if we are to reverse the tide towards catastrophic global climate change; it is essential to making the United States a leader in vast new opportunities to develop and market clean energy technologies—but most importantly, energy independence is essential to defeating jihadist terrorism and liberating our country from our bondage to tyrannical, hostile, and unstable regimes.
In June — here at Faneuil Hall — I unveiled a comprehensive strategy to break our oil addiction. It begins with an aggressive goal: reduce U.S. oil consumption by 2.5 million barrels of oil a day by 2015.
I envision an aggressive timeline to immediately expand the availability and production of renewable fuels and a new fleet of energy-efficient cars, trucks and SUVs. This strategy invests heavily in renewable energy and efficiency. By clearing the pathways to innovation, investing in our workers and infrastructure, and providing American consumers with broader choices, my energy plan will provide the tools to help move America forward, toward real energy security for the 21st Century.
And to really make America safe, it is imperative that we reinforce our homeland defense– starting by doing what should have begun two years ago, and fully implementing the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. President Bush this week said that Osama bin Laden and the terrorists plan to target America’s ‘weak points.’ Our weak points—our borders, our chemical plants, our railways– are weak because this administration has the wrong priorities. The President’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are not only unfair and unaffordable: they are taking from homeland security. What we have today from this White House is a pretense of national security on the cheap — and it must end.
We must rearm ourselves at home. Hurricane Katrina showed us in the most tragic way that the Department of Homeland Security is woefully unprepared to handle a natural disaster we know is coming a week in advance, let alone a catastrophic terrorist attack that takes America by surprise. In 2004, the 9/11 Commission concluded that the Bush Administration should distribute homeland security funding to cities and states based on risk. Yet the Commission’s most recent report card gives the government an “F” because this Administration has cut homeland security funding for the states that need it most – which happen to be blue states — while distributing funds disproportionately to the red states that need it least. What should count here is the terrorist target list, not the Republican National Committees’ political target list.
To make America safe we must ensure the rapid development and deployment of reliable technologies to detect the secret transport of deadly materials. For $1.5 billion dollars – less than is spent in a week in Iraq – we could purchase the equipment to scan every cargo container bound for U.S. ports to ensure that it does not contain any weapons of mass destruction.
At the same time, we must secure the most dangerous of all weapons at their source—especially in the former Soviet Union—where far too much nuclear material remains dangerously unprotected. We must enhance FBI counterterrorism capabilities at home– an effort that is moving far too slowly because of a lack of urgency from this Administration.
And we must put an end to Washington’s continued inaction to secure our border. Border security backed by immigration reform is actually one area where sensible Democrats and Republicans have come together to forge a compromise. Unfortunately, this proposal has been held hostage to narrow right-wing political interests while our security hangs in the balance.
We must—and let me tell you no matter what the White House wants, the Congress will—reconstitute the Bin Laden unit at the CIA, which the Administration inexplicably disbanded. Maybe they thought that if they weren’t looking for Bin Laden, no one would notice that they weren’t finding him.
So these are four specific steps that will start us on the right path – but they alone will not win the war on terror.
Most important, we need to make America be America again. We must restore our moral authority and global leadership by deploying the full arsenal of our national power with smarter diplomacy, stronger alliances, more effective international institutions — and fidelity to the values we have always stood for as a nation.
We must remember the great lesson of the Cold War when we led the world to confront a common threat. Genuine global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, not a favor we do for other countries. Leading the world’s most advanced democracies isn’t mushy multilateralism — it amplifies America’s voice, it extends our reach. Working through global institutions doesn’t tie our hands – it gives greater strength and legitimacy to our purposes and dampens the fear and resentment that our overwhelming power sometimes triggers in others.
We need to strengthen international institutions, build alliances that amplify our power and extend the reach of our influence, and remember that even the most powerful nation on the face of the earth needs to make some friends on this planet.
Leadership means talking with countries who aren’t our friends. It means engaging directly when our vital national security interests are at stake – even with countries that we strongly disagree with—because treating dialogue as a means rather than an end can help us achieve our goals. As John Kennedy once said, “we must never negotiate out of fear but we must never fear to negotiate.” If Richard Nixon could send Henry Kissinger to China, surely George Bush can send a real negotiating team to North Korea. If Ronald Reagan could talk to the evil empire, surely we can talk with Iran or Syria.
We must start treating our moral authority as a precious national asset that does not limit our power but magnifies our influence. Only this week did the Administration finally recognize that the protections of the Geneva Convention had to be applied to prisoners in order to comply with the law, restore our moral authority, and best protect American troops. Let me say it plainly: No American president should be for torture before he’s against it.
Anyone who understood the conflict we face could never shrug off the imperative of winning the hearts and minds of Muslim moderates.
We must start leading by example. We should never engage in or excuse violations of basic human rights. We must uphold the rule of law in our own conduct. And we should never accept official lying by our leaders. No White House should ever bully the Director of the CIA to make a case he knows isn’t true – and no White House should reward it with the Medal of Freedom.
To restore our credibility with moderates in the Muslim world and to safeguard Israel’s place in the world, we must renew the search for a lasting peace in the Middle East. We know from the hard lessons of the past that it won’t be easy. But we know from the disasters of the present that it is essential.
I’ve outlined five specific steps to make our nation safer which I believe stand in stark contrast to the Republicans’ failed policies.
So let’s have a real debate. Let’s give all of us—Republicans and Democrats alike—a real “accountability moment” this November.
Let’s stand up for what we believe. It is the only way to win. And it is the only way we will be worthy of winning.
Let the President give his speeches attacking the patriotism of his fellow Americans. Let him play the politics of fear. As Democrats, we choose to offer a real plan to attack the terrorists and free Americans from fear.
And then let the people decide.