- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2004

When President Bush and Sen. John Kerry square off in the first of three presidential debates tonight, the subject matter will be foreign policy. Since most of the discussion is likely to focus on the war on terrorism in general and the war in Iraq in particular, here are some questions I’d ask Mr. Kerry .

• “Senator Kerry, in Greensboro, N.C., on Sept. 7, you said Mr. Bush had ‘no plan to win the peace, failed to build an international coalition,’ and launched the war before diplomacy had been exhausted. When you say that Mr. Bush ‘failed to build an international coalition,’ aren’t you disparaging Britain, Italy, Japan, Australia, Poland, Hungary and two dozen other countries that are part of that coalition?”

• “Senator Kerry, the Financial Times reported Monday that French and German government officials say they won’t significantly increase military assistance even if you are elected. So, what countries not in the coalition now would you bring in?”

• “Senator Kerry, your negative characterizations of how the war in Iraq is going is reaching Iraq via Armed Forces Radio, Al Jazeera TV and other outlets. Aren’t you concerned that your remarks are serving, as Mr. Bush says, to ‘embolden the enemy’ and hurt the morale of our troops?”

• “Senator Kerry, when you say that Mr. Bush ‘launched the war before diplomacy had been exhausted,’ it suggests that 14 months of diplomacy was not enough. In your view, how much more time should diplomacy have been given?”

• “Senator Kerry, we know that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction because he used them on the Iranians and on the Kurds. Don’t you suppose those 14 months gave Saddam plenty of time to move his WMDs to, say, Syria or Lebanon?”

• “Senator Kerry, it took only a single envelope full of anthrax to shut down the Capitol. Given the small quantities of chemical and biological weapons it takes to inflict a disproportionate amount of damage, doesn’t that make them easy to hide, and couldn’t that explain why they haven’t been found?”

• “Senator Kerry, you have taken to echoing Howard Dean’s refrain that Iraq is the ‘wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ What would have been the right war, right place and right time?”

• “Senator Kerry, there are some 260 of your fellow swift boat veterans in Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, while only about a dozen support your candidacy. That’s a ratio of more than 20-to-1 who say you’re ‘Unfit for Command.’ How do you explain that?”

• “Senator Kerry, why won’t you sign Form 180 to allow the release all of your military records — not just the handful you’ve released to date? Doesn’t it create the appearance that you have something to hide?”

• “Senator Kerry, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said last week that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was an illegal act that contravened the U.N. charter. Do you agree?”

• “Senator Kerry, Senator Ted Kennedy said on Monday at George Washington University, ‘The war in Iraq has made the mushroom cloud more likely, not less likely.’ Did he clear those remarks with you in advance, and more importantly, do you agree with his assessment?”

• “Senator Kerry, The Australian newspaper reported Sept. 18: ‘John Kerry’s campaign has warned Australians that [Prime Minister John Howard’s] government’s support for the U.S. in Iraq has made [Australians] a bigger target for international terrorists.’ It quoted your sister, Diana, the head of Americans Overseas for Kerry, as saying: ‘We are endangering the Australians now by this wanton disregard for international law and multilateral channels.’ With Australia facing a critical national election itself Oct. 9, less than a month before ours, isn’t your sister undermining a key coalition ally with such remarks?”

• “Senator Kerry, a former colleague of yours, Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon, who took a back seat to no one as an antiwar pacifist, announced last week that he is nonetheless supporting President Bush and his handling of the war in Iraq. Why isn’t he supporting you?”

Peter Parisi works on the Copy Desk at The Washington Times.

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