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The Mother Of All Flip-Flops

Today John Kerry says that Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror. What did he think about Iraq in 2001?

11:25 AM, Oct 26, 2004 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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EVER SINCE John Kerry decided his best tack in this campaign was to turn against the Iraq war, despite his past support for it, his core argument has been that it was a diversion from the war on terror. Iraq, he has been insisting, had nothing to do with that war, which is about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, pure and simple. The administration erred, he now claims, by turning its attention to Iraq.

But it turns out that Kerry felt entirely differently at the time. In an interview with John McLaughlin on November 16, 2001--just two months after September 11 and before victory in Afghanistan was assured--Kerry was asked, "What do we have to worry about [in Afghanistan]?" Kerry answered:

I have no doubt, I've never had any doubt--and I've said this publicly--about our ability to be successful in Afghanistan. We are and we will be. The larger issue, John, is what happens afterwards. How do we now turn attention ultimately to Saddam Hussein? How do we deal with the larger Muslim world? What is our foreign policy going to be to drain the swamp of terrorism on a global basis? [Emphasis added]

So on November 16, 2001, with the war in Afghanistan but a few weeks old and Osama bin Laden not yet captured, John Kerry was raising the bar for the Bush administration, wondering when it would go after Saddam Hussein.

Will the New York Times, the Washington Post, or any other mainstream media take note of this remarkable statement?

William Kristol is editor of The Weekly Standard.



Previous Campaign Memos:



Kerry Will "Put More Pressure on Israel, Another difference between the president and his Democratic challenger. October 25, 2004

Kerry on Zarqawi: Wrong, The Democratic nominee is ignoring the evidence on Zarqawi's activities in Iraq. October 21, 2004

Dying for the United Nations, Why is John Kerry no Clinton-Lieberman Democrat? His obeisance to the U.N. October 20, 2004

John Kerry: Germany's Candidate, The German defense minister says that maybe there's a possibility that they might, someday, perhaps, depending on future "developments," send troops to Iraq. October 13, 2004

Not a Diversion, Was Iraq a diversion from the war on terror? Bush and McCain remind us that the answer is: No. October 6, 2004

The No-Nukes Party, The Mondale Democrats are alive and well in the U.S. Senate--does John Kerry still believe in their worldview? October 4, 2004

When Was He For It (Before He Was Against It)?, John Kerry gives a disingenuous defense of why he said he voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it. September 29, 2004

The Kerry-Kennedy Line, It's a good thing that John Kerry and Ted Kennedy lost the last time they took a stand on Saddam Hussein. September 28, 2004

Kerry's Phony Foreign Forces, Would President Kerry be able to get France and Germany to help share the burden in Iraq? Chirac says, "Non!" September 22, 2004

Nothing To Do With the Truth, John Kerry continues to insist that Saddam Hussein had "nothing to do with al Qaeda." And he continues to be wrong. September 22, 2004

Lugar's Other Comments, The media played up Richard Lugar's recent remarks about President Bush; will they do the same with his assessment of Senator Kerry? September 21, 2004

For Kerry, It's Always Vietnam, The subtext of John Kerry's Monday morning Iraq speech. September 20, 2004

Kerry's Flip-Flopping on Russia, The senator has two views on promoting democracy in Russia, too. September 16, 2004

Wrong Choices, A look at John Kerry's record. September 15, 2004

Another New Kerry Position on Iraq . . . and the same one on Vietnam. September 15, 2004

Kerry and the "Direct Link," The Kerry campaign is distorting Dick Cheney's words. September 13, 2004

Kerry's North Korea Non-policy, John Kerry calls the New York Times with complaints, but no plan. September 13, 2004

If John Kerry Were President, . . . Saddam would still be in power. September 8, 2004

Kerry vs. Kerry, What does "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" mean? September 7, 2004

The Kerry Record, What John Kerry about foreign policy and defense in 1984 and 1985. September 3, 2004

It Was This Big . . ., Does John Kerry still believe that the terror threat is an "exaggeration"? September 1, 2004

John Edwards: Disrespecting Our Allies, America isn't acting alone. September 1, 2004

No Bargain, The "grand bargain" John Kerry and John Edwards are prepared to offer Iran deserves serious scrutiny. September 1, 2004