Kerry would fight a smarter war on terror

September 26, 2004

Dear Editor:

A recent letter claimed that John Kerry "thinks we are not at war and terrorism is a legal/diplomatic problem." This is untrue. "The terrorists are beyond reason," Kerry said last week. "We must destroy them. As president, I will do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat our enemies."

Kerry fully grasps the magnitude of the threat posed by the possibility of al-Qaida-like groups getting their hands on WMDs. The question dividing Kerry and Bush is how best to meet this threat.

Bush chose to make Saddam Hussein (a secular Baathist with no WMDs or operational ties to al-Qaida) his top priority, allowing the Taliban to re-establish themselves in Afghanistan. Kerry recognizes that the Iraq war has diverted our attention from the primary threat: al-Qaida and affiliated terrorist organizations.


To prevail in our struggle against these enemies, Kerry emphasizes the need for both strength and wisdom. We must bring to bear all the resources at our disposal, including "a powerful military, transformed to meet the new threats of terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction," but also "our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, the appeal of our values - each of which is critical to making America more secure and preventing a new generation of terrorists from emerging."

The use of military and non-military means is not an "either-or," but a "both-and" proposition. Troops win battles. Shrewd political decision-makers win wars. By relying on faulty intelligence against the advice of his State Department and the CIA, and by failing to exercise effective diplomacy, Bush has placed unnecessary burdens on our troops. In the build-up to the Iraq invasion he ignored the advice of seasoned military commanders in favor of the delusional agenda of the neoconservative civilians in the Department of Defense (who themselves had been duped by the likes of Ahmed Chalabi). Even the most steely determination is no substitute for good judgment.

Kerry has presented American voters with "a plan to fight a smarter, more effective war on terror." This plan deserves their thoughtful consideration.

Todd Gooch


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