October 27, 2005

What "political settlement" is Senator Kerry talking about?

The Washington Post reports:
"The way forward in Iraq is not to pull out precipitously or merely promise to stay 'as long as it takes,'" Kerry said during an address at Georgetown University. "We must instead simultaneously pursue both a political settlement and the withdrawal of American combat forces."...

As part of his call for a political solution to the Iraq conflict, Kerry proposed a conference of nations led by the United States, Britain, Turkey, Russia and other NATO allies to forge a compromise between the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions in Iraq. He also called on Bush to appoint an envoy to help "maximize our diplomacy in Iraq and the region."
So the Iraqis have approved their constitution and are moving toward elections at the end of the year, and Kerry wants an international group to intervene and start hammering out some other arrangement? Isn't the constitution the political solution? I genuinely can't understand what he's talking about.

UPDATE: I suspect that the press is helping the hapless senator by highlighting his call for drawing down the troops and burying the inane call for an international "political settlement" effort.

35 comments:

F said...

The Constitution needs a hell of a lot of work yet - it's little more than a draft and, most importantly, enshrines fragmentation between different areas and factions in Iraq. I imagine it's the completion of the drafting trying to unify Iraq more is that he's refering to?

Ann Althouse said...

But isn't that for the Iraqis who win the elections to hammer out? Bringing in a lot of foreign intervenors seems to be going in completely the wrong direction.

ShadyCharacter said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, and I may well be, but hasn't the constitution been approved by the voters of Iraq - by something like 79% of them?

In what, if any, sense is the constitution a "draft?"

Ann: The mistake may be in trying to find something substantive in one of Kerry's pronouncements on Iraq. If he couldn't articulate a position in the heat of an election season, why should he be able to now? The man speaks in paragraphs, but there's no "there," there, is there?

Can someone top four "there's"?

Also, if any Kerry supporters want to prove me wrong on Kerry's lack of a clear position on Iraq it's easy to do. Just set forth his position!

Continental Drifts said...
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Continental Drifts said...

Umm...he means that Iraq is going to fragment worse than the Balkans. The only thing holding it together was a brutal dictator. So, it's more responsible to accept this than it is to ram down notions of a united Iraq.

Allah said...

Kerry's proposal is a variation on the idea that Arabs can't settle their problems without resorting to violence, therefore they need a babysitter (the UN, Saddam) to keep the peace. Which has worked out really well in the past.

I say it's time for something new. Something bold. Something ... nuanced. Autonomy: catch the fever!

Slocum said...

Kerry has the luxury of knowing that there's no chance anybody will act on his proposals, so they don't have to make any kind of real sense.

The Shia, Kurds, and Sunnis in Iraq have already, of course, been negotiating in earnest. Why he thinks having them sit down with Turkey, Russia, et al is going to convince them to reach accomodations that they wouldn't otherwise is a mystery. But Kerry just loves the idea of INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES as the universal solvent--not out of a sense that this makes sense for the specific situation in Iraq but because this is a MULTILATERAL approach.

The problems of the Bush Admin II notwithstanding, I'm still not wishing Kerry was president.

jeff said...

He means "we need to negotiate with terrorists."

Appeasement, pure and simple.

Nick said...

Well.... you know what they say...

Generals always fight this war using the tactics of the last war.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...he means that Iraq is going to fragment worse than the Balkans..."

Except that in the case of Iraq, more than 80% of the people have already reached a political consensus....hmmm

The political problems in Iraq are very strange.... For example, the traditional classic case is the balkins, an area made up of pockets of different ethnic and religious groups with claims to ancient lands who want self determination, etc....

In Iraq you have 20% of the people demanding the opposite....a strong centralized government. The Sunni's voted against the Constitution because they did not want the Kurds and Shia to establish independent states. How then can the Sunni demands ever be met other than the Sunni's ruling over the rest of the country. How could the Sunnis ever be motivated into Civil war? How long would the Sunni's fight and die to control another people?

Zawahiri's said in his letter that he was concerned that the Sunnis would have no motivation to fight on for the islamic state once the Americans withdraw. He is probably right.

We will start withdrawing after December 15.

Allah said...

Hitchens on the supposed tribalism of Iraqis.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't understand the idea that the Sunnis will lead the way to a breakup. They opposed the constitution because they feared a breakup. They are the ones who need to keep Iraq together, because they want access to the oil riches. The Kurds and the Shiites voted for the constitution. Isn't this the time to let them work through the system? How can we complain about the insurgents failling to work within the system if we don't respect it? It's perfectly irrational. Kerry is an abysmal thinker! If you don't think so, make what he said coherent. I say you can't!

PatCA said...

I think he's talking about Paris Peace Talks. He so enjoyed them last time! "Political solution" is "surrender" in a fancy suit.

Ann, you are correct about the Sunnis and the fabled civil war that the media crave. They fear a breakup because they have no oil. The Kurds fear a breakup because Turkey or Iran will then attack out of hatred/oil lust. The Shia fear a breakup for the same reasons. It isn't so much patriotism as practicality that has kept their union together (and ours, for that matter); it's practicality. They are better off than apart.

JBlog said...

Oh, so we're supposed to take advice from the losers now? Particularly one who doesn't even know what his own opinion is?

Yeah, that's a recipe for success.

As for the Sunnis fomenting a civil war, they make up roughly 20 percent of the population. Do you suppose the words "General Custer" mean anything to them.

Allah said...

Also, why the hell would he want Russia involved in the conference? Russia's doing its level best to help Iran build nuclear bombs. On what planet is expanding their role in the Middle East a good idea?

Welcome to "Building a liberal democracy in Iraq" with your host, Vladimir Putin.

ShadyCharacter said...

allah, I'm maybe missing something, but since when do democrats support the establishment of liberal democracies abroad? Isn't that what naive Republicans are always trying to do? Does Kerry anywhere say that he'd like to see a "liberal democracy in Iraq"?

I think it'd be:

Welcome to "Imposing Order with an Iron Fist" with your host, Vladimir Putin

AllenS said...

I held my nose when I voted for Dubya, but to have voted for Kerry, I would have had to put both hands around my throat. The man makes no sense.

knoxgirl said...

Kerry's proposal is so arrogant, totally ignoring this little "constitution" thing the Iraqi people have cooked up. And he needs to read the memo, ANY "international" solution at this point is like a bad joke.

Why doesn't he go away already! No one liked what he had to say the first time around. No one UNDERSTOOD what he had to say the first time around. (And c.drift don't act like it's obvious with your "umms" --you hurt your cause by trying to act like Kerry makes sense.)

Pastor_Jeff said...

Personally, I loved the 20,000 troop number he obviously pulled out of his ... posterior. It sounds so real, so reasonable. "See? I'm offering a specific solution."

Does Kerry have some militaristic Magic 8-ball that told him the mission could be accomplished with precisely 20,000 fewer troops? Because of course he knows exactly what the situation on the ground requires.

Criminy.

ShadyCharacter said...

Knoxgirl,

I missed ContinentalDrift's post before he removed it. Was it a response to my request for someone to set forth Kerry's position on Iraq?

If so, I'm curious what he offered up?

ShadyCharacter said...

My Bad! Please ignore my last post, which made about as much sense as your average Kerry pronouncement on the war, which is to say "none."

I saw the deleted post and not the one directly below it. ummm. Which was not after all the long-sought clarification of Kerry's position on Iraq...

L. Ron Halfelven said...

To paraphrase the old computer-geek joke: When your hammer is the International Conference, everything looks like a thumb.

Synova said...

It would please me, a lot, if some people would just figure out that dictating to other governments is just as offensive when it doesn't involve guns as when it does. Setting up a "we know better than you do" committee is just as contrary to Iraq's sovereignty as our troops on the ground there. It could be argued that occupying forces are *less* of an imposition if our policy is to encourage the Iraqis to work out their own solutions.

From the sound of it the Iraqis take a certain pleasure in being contrary. I'd expect that their reaction to Kerry's babysitting comittee would be to ignore it, politely or otherwise.

Actually, and you'all please correct me if I'm wrong, all of Kerry's various "puppet government" comments lead me to believe that his world view offers no other alternatives. There is no question in his mind that the government, constitution and all, is and will be a puppet government. His answer to this is not to promote independant Iraqi rule (since that is impossible) but to promote the idea of multi-national puppet masters. (By definition prefered over the US kind.)

Am I wrong?

John Thacker said...

The charitable explanation, I assume, is something like "we should be doing basically what Bush is doing, only better, making everybody on all sides happier, getting peace faster, and withdrawing our troops." The uncharitable explanation has something to do with an addiction to internationalism for the sake of internationalism. I agree that it gets condescending at some point to try to foist things on the Iraqis. Their country will succeed or fail at democracy, but in the end it will be up to them. We can only try to give them a chance.

Bruce Hayden said...

John Thacker,

Being charitable, I think Kerry is somewhere in between. He is an avowed internationalist, of course. But I think just as much, he is trying to micromanage the war in Iraq without having either the authority, responsibility, or, even, apparently, the intel to do it. In other words, part of it is him trying to show that he could do a better job that President Bush by pointing at places here and there that he thinks could have been done better.

Simon said...

Isn't it a joy to know, every morning when you wake up, that this absurd man isn't actually the President, and was returned by the election to the obscurity he richly deserves?

During the primary season, I was ambivalent about Bush, at best, given his poor track record. When Kerry came out, I suppose that rather sealed the election, and as soon as Kerry revealed the depths of his depravity in the debates, it was over. But I do regret - and admit that I was wrong to do so - having flirted with the idea of declining to suppoort Bush. I now realize - even in this post-Miers zone - how much less of the two evils presented he was.

SippicanCottage said...
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Icepick said...

Simon, Bush's greatest asset has been the abysmal quality of his opponents.

SippicanCottage, JFK was the last President elected directly from the Senate, but both LBJ and Tricky Dick had been Senators. I'll let you judge for yourself how good that troika was.

And Allah, you REALLY want to go back to serious blogging again, don't you?

Hecla Ma said...

Without the press constantly helping him, Kerry is a big, tall, heavily-jawed bag of hammers.

Uncle Buck said...

I don't know what the hell JFK means, either. And I voted for the guy!

But I STILL think we'd be better off if Kerry had won.

Bruce Hayden said...

Uncle Buck,

I think you give away the problem - Wishful thinking. You essentially admit that you don't know what Kerry would have done, or, indeed, probably what he really stands for. You just think that he would have done better because you don't like what President Bush has done.

But the problem is that, to this day, all he has been able to do is to second guess the President. With 20/20 hindsight he is able to say that the President shouldn't have done this or should have done that. That is, IMHO, easy to do.

But every time he tries to talk prospectively, instead of retrospectively, it becomes apparent that he has no real vision. Worse, in Iraq, it is apparent that he doesn't understand what is going on there as well as most of us do here, despite sitting on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

And the problem with having no vision, is that without it, you can't act proactively. Rather, you are faced with reacting. And in the War on Terror, to react is to ultimately become a victim.

amba said...

Why is anybody listening to this man at all? Is he running for President again? Who cares?

Somebody please bury the Democratic party -- it stinks so bad . . .

Cat said...

Very late to the party...I may be the only one here, but...

Does anyone remember that he wanted to call off the elections last January. It was "too soon."

The man can only sing one note. Let's sit around and talk.

whit said...

He still doesn't get it. The only part of Iraq that the international community wants is it's oil.

Oh yeah, now that we've done all the heavy lifting, let's bring in the U.N. That works for me.

Ann Althouse said...

Whit: Give Kerry some credit. At least he didn't say the U.N.! It would be an especially bad week for that, considering the Oil-For-Food report.