Thursday, May 6, 2004

Kerry’s Choices

My Faithful Correspondent sent on this commentary by Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post, and wonders what the BBWW readership thinks Senator Kerry should do if he’s elected.

As in a classic fairy tale or a not-so-classic game show, John Kerry finds himself in a closed room staring at three closed doors. One is labeled “Reduce U.S. Forces in Iraq.” The second door reads “Maintain Troop Levels”; the third says “Increase Them.”

And here’s Kerry’s problem: The risk of opening any of those doors exceeds the rewards.

If Kerry calls for downsizing our occupation force by so much as one buck private, the Republicans will go calculatedly berserk. He’ll be yet another Massachusetts wuss and, worse yet, a geo-strategic flip-flopper — backing off his current stance of maintaining or, if need be, increasing our force in Iraq.

The considerable irony here is that Kerry has maintained the same position on the war since he voted to authorize our intervention back in the fall of 2002: in favor of ousting Saddam Hussein but insisting we needed the backing and aegis of the United Nations and NATO to have the troop strength and legitimacy required to rebuild the nation. The flip-flopper on Iraq has been George W. Bush, who was single-minded when it came to getting Hussein but whose views on controlling postwar Iraq have gone from a truculent unilateralism to a Kerry-esque acknowledgement that we need the United Nations to run the place until an Iraqi government can assume sovereignty.

But say Kerry keeps to his current position, choosing to maintain or boost troop levels depending on the level of chaos that Iraq is suffering. Behind either of those doors stands Ralph Nader, with a new and more compelling raison d’être for his candidacy than he’s had thus far. Nader now calls for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq within six months — a position that recent polling shows is shared by more than 40 percent of the electorate, including, surely, tens of millions of Democrats and left-leaning independents.

Recent events – exacerbated by the treatment of prisoners – make it an even harder choice.

Noam Scheiber at The New Republic’s &c has his own take on it.

Well, dear reader; what say you?