- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 8, 2006

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, insists on proving that he can’t be trusted. He made his political debut in 1970, joining the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, then accused American troops of war crimes in Vietnam — and tried to deny he had done so.

During his ill-fated 2004 presidential campaign, Mr. Kerry’s hyperventilated claims to be a war hero were called into question by his own comrades. Now, the Democrat defeatist has published his formula for victory in Iraq: just quit.

In a 600-word screed published this week by the New York Times, Mr. Kerry lays out his vision for the future. Unfortunately, like so much else in the Massachusetts liberal’s political life, it is full of flim-flam, half-truths, distortions and outright falsehoods. A few examples based on my seven trips covering U.S. forces in Iraq for Fox News:

Mr. Kerry: “Now we find our troops in the middle of an escalating civil war.”

Reality: No U.S. or Iraqi official has described what’s happening as a civil war. In fact, all have categorically disagreed with such a characterization. Only the “Blame America First” crowd and the mainstream media broadcasting from balconies in the green zone depict it as such.

Mr. Kerry: “Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America’s leaders knew our strategy would not work.”

Reality: Those of us who are unashamed of our service know we didn’t lose the war on the battlefields of Vietnam — but in the corridors of power in Washington.

Mr. Kerry: “No American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi politicians refuse to resolve their ethnic and political differences.”

Reality: American troops in Iraq aren’t being wounded and killed because of Iraqi politicians — but by terrorists who refuse to participate in the political process.

Mr. Kerry: “Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military.”

Reality: Every soldier, sailor, airman, Guardsman and Marine I have interviewed in Iraq — from Gen. George W. Casey down to riflemen on patrol believe a withdrawal deadline is a formula for disaster.

Mr. Kerry: “If Iraq’s leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year’s end.”

Reality: Now there’s a real incentive. If you don’t do as we say, we’ll pull out immediately. If you do as we want — we’ll still pull out 225 days later.

Mr. Kerry: “We must immediately bring the leaders of the Iraqi factions together at a Dayton Accords-like summit meeting.”

Reality: Show us the list of “diplomats” who would negotiate with Abu Musab Zarqawi and his ilk.

Mr. Kerry: “To increase the pressure on Iraq’s leaders, we must redeploy American forces to garrisoned status.”

Reality: U.S. troop leaders — and Iraqi officials agree the place to put the pressure is on the terrorists doing all in their power to prevent formation of a democratic government.

Mr. Kerry: “Special operations against al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists in Iraq should be initiated only on hard intelligence leads.”

Reality: That’s what’s being done now, Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Kerry: “We will defeat al Qaeda faster when we stop serving as its best recruitment tool.”

Reality: As the September 11 attacks proved, just being the home of the brave and the land of the free, makes America al Qaeda’s best “recruitment tool.” It was that way before Iraq — and it will stay that way much longer if we turn tail and run.

Mr. Kerry: “An exit from Iraq will also strengthen our hand in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat…. “

Reality: How?

Mr. Kerry: “… and allow us to repair the damage of repeated deployments, which flag officers believe has strained military readiness and morale.”

Reality: If morale is suffering, why is the re-enlistment rate among combat-committed units (average 106 percent) at unprecedentedly high levels?

Mr. Kerry’s half-witted harangue has attracted considerable attention in the media. It is widely circulated in the Islamic press. But it’s no formula for success. It should instead be described as a plan to abandon ship.

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist and the host of “War Stories” on the Fox News Channel.

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