Bush Campaign Lies

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #10: Kerry Wanted to 'Delay Defending America Until the UN Approved' 

This lie rounds out the trifecta from Bush's '100 Days' ad. The Bush campaign gives eight Kerry quotes as 'proof' of this accusation.

The first thing to note is that all of Bush's evidence pertains to the U.S. war on Iraq. It takes a certain kind of chutzpah, knowing what we know now, to seriously argue that eliminating Iraq's 'weapons of mass destruction-related program activities' is the same as 'defending America'. But one might argue that in the fall of 2002 we seriously thought Iraq was a threat. It seems that Kerry did, since he voted for the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. But that seems to undermine Bush's claim here.

Maybe we should consider the resolution more closely. H.J. Res 114 of the 107th Congress did authorize Bush to:

  1. Defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.
  2. Enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
However, it gave this authorization only in the event that Bush came to the determination that diplomatic means (i.e. the UN) were not sufficient to achieve the stated goals. In other words, the bill explicitly stated that Bush should try to 'gain sufficient votes' in the UN --- including the French and Russian votes --- to authorize force, and 'honor the inspections process'. When Kerry says that the bill 'empowered [Bush] with the relevant United Nations policies' 'to go to the United Nations and form a coalition', he's giving an accurate reporting of the contents of the bill. Perhaps one could claim that Kerry really did want to wait for UN approval before attacking, since he voted for the bill --- along with 76 other senators, 48 of them Republicans. But since Bush signed it, that means he must have wanted to 'delay defending America', too.

What this really boils down to is: Kerry doesn't believe that Bush made a good faith effort to reach a diplomatic solution, which is what the bill clearly called for. Whether Bush really did that is a matter of opinion. But nowhere does Kerry say that the U.S. should have waited for UN approval. Every statement either says, basically, that Bush didn't exhaust all options before using force, or that we need strong alliances to combat terrorism.

9:33 PM