- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 25, 2004

President Bush yesterday hammered Sen. John Kerry for disparaging Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, whom Mr. Bush described as a hero in need of America’s help, not contempt.

“This brave man came to our country to talk about how he’s risking his life for a free Iraq, which helps America, and Senator Kerry held a press conference to question Prime Minister Allawi’s credibility,” Mr. Bush told an audience in Janesville, Wis.

“You can’t lead this country if your ally in Iraq feels like you question his credibility,” he added. “The message ought to be to the Iraqi people: We support you.”

On Thursday, Mr. Kerry scoffed at assurances by the president and Mr. Allawi that Iraq would be able to hold elections in January. The Massachusetts Democrat also dismissed Mr. Allawi’s optimistic speech to a joint session of Congress, which gave him a hero’s welcome.

“The prime minister and the president are here obviously to put their best face on the policy,” Mr. Kerry said in a press conference after Mr. Allawi’s speech. “But the fact is that CIA estimates, the reporting, the ground operations and the troops all tell a different story.”

Yesterday, an indignant Mr. Bush defended Mr. Allawi, reminding Americans that the former Iraqi exile had once been attacked by ax-wielding assassins sent by Saddam Hussein.

“He came to our country to thank the American people,” the president said. “He came to our country to thank the moms and dads and husbands and wives of those who have sacrificed for his freedom and America’s security.”

He added: “And my opponent chose to criticize the prime minister of Iraq.”

The president’s rebuke did not faze Mr. Kerry’s running mate, Sen. John Edwards, who suggested that Mr. Allawi was merely parroting the president’s lies.

“The best lesson for any fledgling democracy is that leaders should tell the truth, to always be straight with the people,” Mr. Edwards said. “Prime Minister Allawi’s trip to the United States was filled with all the wrong lessons, lessons from an administration that just can’t seem to tell the truth when it comes to Iraq.”

Vice President Dick Cheney, who spent yesterday campaigning in Louisiana, also defended Mr. Allawi.

“I was appalled at the complete lack of respect Senator Kerry showed for this man of courage when he rushed out to hold a press conference and attack the prime minister yesterday right after his speech,” Mr. Cheney said.

“Iyad Allawi is our ally,” he added. “John Kerry is trying to tear him down and to trash all the good that has been accomplished, and his words are destructive.”

Mr. Cheney suggested the prime minister was referring to Mr. Kerry when he warned against pessimism during a joint press conference with Mr. Bush on Thursday.

“When political leaders sound the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism, it only encourages more violence,” Mr. Allawi said in the Rose Garden.

Senior Kerry adviser Joe Lockhart suggested Mr. Allawi was merely reciting talking points supplied by the president.

“The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips,” he said after the Allawi-Bush press conference.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, fired back yesterday from the floor of the Senate.

“You know what is really underneath the shirt of Prime Minister Allawi? Scars from an ax attack by Saddam’s henchmen,” he said. “And do you know what is underneath those scars? A brave and patriotic Iraqi heart, beholden to no one but the cause of a free Iraq.”

He added: “When you undermine our principal ally in a war against terror and tyranny, you are undermining our cause.”

White House spokesman Scott McClellan agreed.

He said sarcastically during a press briefing aboard Air Force One that “denigrating our allies is an interesting way to build coalitions,” referring to Mr. Kerry’s principal criticism of the conduct of the war in Iraq — that the administration did not put together a sufficient worldwide coalition.

“Senator Kerry questioned Prime Minister Allawi’s integrity, a brave leader who is risking his life to bring freedom to the Iraqi people,” he said.

“This is part of a pattern by Senator Kerry of showing contempt for our closest friends and allies,” he added. “This is not the first time.”

Last year, for example, Mr. Kerry called the nations that ousted Saddam Hussein — including Britain, Australia and Poland — “some trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted.”

In March, Mr. Kerry diminished the importance of dozens of nations that were participating in the U.S.-led mission in Iraq.

“Those countries are really window dressing,” he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide