It is truly unfortunate that our administration had to justify a military intervention in Iraq within the context of an immediate threat following 9/11, and WMDs. Had world leaders done their job a decade ago, we wouldn't have had to rely on a shallow case for war before digging him out of a stupid hole.
While our credibility as a country has been shattered to bits through failed diplomacy, I do still think Iraq was a strategic point of the war on terror. The legitimacy for military intervention has stood for a decade, for reasons others than what this administration invoked, and failed to rally the big wigs around:
In spite of U.N. exhortations, resolutions and sanctions, hussein has spent the better part of a decade leading an opaque regime. If we were ever going to be serious about hunting-down al qaeda, we had to be taking a good look at what fuels this terrorist hate machine that perversely hides behind the Muslim Faith. 12 years of starving Muslim Children as a result of failing to enforce a continuous stream of resolutions, hasn't exactly enhanced the credibility of the United Nations in the eyes of an average Muslim ... Each year we've allowed saddam to remain in power has further fostered Muslim hatred against "The West". This very hatred has done nothing but serve al qaeda's agenda. The only viable avenue to effectively and permanently end economic sanctions against Iraq, was to put an end to saddam's regime, and with it, another piece of the hatred pie.
Of all the misleading crap that has come down from this administration, I do believe one school of thought to hold true: "A free, democratic Iraq and Afghanistan will be powerful allies in the war against terror".
I've supported Kerry's campaign since day 1 against all other democratic candidates, especially Dean, precisely because I believed at the time he shared the crux of those views. I was hoping his campaign would point out and dwell on the Bush diplomatic failures, while still acknowledging the strategic importance of a free Iraq for fighting terror, which, in my mind, was consistent with his vote.
But Kerry started seriously worrying me with statements such as "saddam hussein didn't attack us", and repeated uses of "colossal error of judgment", and the oh-so-famous "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time". Which all really smacks of the short-sighted Howard Dean rhetoric. Kerry did repeatedly ferociously clamor that he will "hunt down and kill those terrorists", that he will not give veto power to other countries over our own security, that he will make us safer. I believe that he means well, and I truly want to believe that he will succeed. But I'm seriously worried about how he will execute on his strategy.
Terrorists are never going to form their own little geographically localized country from which they'll be firing off WMDs, so we can easily justify bombing them in order to permanently obliterate them. They will infiltrate many countries in the world, they will favor friendly opaque regimes, preferably of predominantly Muslim Faith, that either don't have the ability to, or flat out will refuse to hunt down terrorists. Tough calls might have to be made to hold specific Muslim world leaders to their commitment to fighting terror. Such tough calls might, again, prove to be unpopular.
By running his campaign on quotes such as "saddam hussein didn't attack us", I believe Kerry is painting himself into a very dangerous strategic corner.
Also see Jeff Jarvis' blog on issues2004. I truly share his views on Iraq and he's got a thought-provoking wish list regarding the candidates:
And so I want to see a candidate give me a strong and clear plan for bringing security to Iraq and for supporting open and peaceful elections. Then I want to see a plan for ongoing security. And then I want to see a plan for other American relationships with Iraq that will build a stronger connection, especially business connections to create jobs and prosperity. That will defeat Islamic extremism better than anything.(Emphasis, mine).