Explaining Kerry's statement that he would still Vote for War Powers

Published in Boston Globe, August 23, 2004.

Ann Yurek (Globe, August 17 2004) says that Kerry wanted to trust the President so that is why he voted war making powers for the President (October 2002). But it really was not a question of trust; it was a vote designed to give the President leverage in calling Iraq to account before the United Nations. It exemplified realpolitik at its best.

It is hard to remember the sequence of events from 2001 and the present day. Up until November 2002 (that is until the President had the support of Senate and House) the Iraqis refused to allow UN inspectors to undertake inspections for Weapons of Mass Destruction on Iraqi territory. By the end of November, Inspections under the direction of Hans Blix were under way. The vote to grant the President war powers had achieved its purpose, the Iraq regime was being called to account for its actions.

We have forgotten too that Hans Blix called on the US and Britain to give his inspectors the "hard intelligence" that they claimed to possess so that his inspectors could go to check out that information on the ground. The failure of the US and Britain to do so should have roused our suspicions that all was not well with the intelligence -- its invalidity has been amply demonstrated in the past six months.

Where we went wrong -- the Senate, and the House, and the country, and all of us -- was the failure to recognize the importance of the inspector's reports in mid February 2003 that there was no evidence of immanent danger from Iraq. That should have led to a re-evaluation of the war power resolution and its potential repeal based on the changed situation. We failed to do so and we are reaping the tragic consequences today.

So, unlike Ann Yurek, I cannot understand Kerry's statement that, even with the evidence that there were no weapons of mass destruction, he would still have voted to give war powers to the President. There is no realpolitik rationale, there is no National Security rationale, there is no counter-terrorism rationale. So why would he say that he would still vote for war? His saying that today makes no sense -- except as a cheap ploy to garner votes in the upcoming election.

See edited and published version here