Originally posted by Ra
Bush called Kerry out on this one, and then Kerry's explanation was something along the lines of, "I never said we'd be out in six months. What I said is that if things go according to my plan, we get other nations in there [blah blah, etc...], then in six months we can begin to pull troops out and gradually reduce our numbers in Iraq."
I think what you meant to say is that Bush trotted out another lie, trying to put words into Kerry's mouth that he didn't say. Kerry then called him on it, in what I thought was his most devastating reposte of the night. He began by restating his actual words - that, if we follow his plan, we could start to reduce
troop numbers in six months. He then wove that into the larger point that we can't win the war if Iraqis and Arabs think we're there to conquer - taking a potshot at the President for giving the impression we were there for the oil, and planned to stay forever. To paraphrase, we can only convince Iraqis to fight for their country - we'll never convince them to fight for us. Most significantly, he explicitly pledged that we had no long-term designs on Iraq, and that we would not base significant numbers of troops there indefinitely. That was a major policy statment, and GWB, given the chance to rebutt it, choose not to.
Aw, heck, since that was my favorite bit (apart from the line about learning not to try to put leashes on his kids), it's worth posting in full. The body language was great, too, which the transcript obviously doesn't capture.
The timeline that I've set out, and again, I want to correct the president because he's misled again this evening on what I've said. I didn't say I would bring troops out in six months. I said if we do the things that I've set out and we are successful we could begin to draw the troops down in six months.
And I think a critical component of success in Iraq is being able to convince the Iraqis and the Arab world that the United States doesn't have long-term designs on it. As I understand it we're building some 14 military bases there now. And some people say they've got a rather permanent concept to them.
When you guard the oil ministry but you don't guard the nuclear facilities the message to a lot of people is maybe well, maybe they're interested in our oil.
Now the problem is that they didn't think these things through properly. And these are the things you have to think through. What I want to do is change the dynamics on the ground. And you have to do that by beginning to not back off of Fallujah and other places and send the wrong message to the terrorists. You have to close the borders. You've got to show you're serious in that regard. But you've also go to show that you're prepared to bring the rest of the world in and share the stakes.
I will make a flat statement. The United States of America has no long-term designs on staying in Iraq. And our goal in my administration would be to get all of the troops out of there with the minimal amount you need for training and logistics as we do in some other countries in the world after a war to be able to sustain the peace.
But that's how we're going to win the peace. By rapidly training the Iraqis themselves. Even the administration has admitted they haven't done the training. Because they came back to Congress a few weeks ago and asked for a complete reprogramming of the money. Now what greater admission is there, 16 months afterwards, oops, we haven't done the job. We've got to start to spend the money now. Will you guys give us permission to shift it over into training?