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Kerry Criticizes Bush Handling of Iraq - 2004-09-02


Democratic Party presidential candidate Senator John Kerry says President Bush has mishandled nearly every aspect of the Iraq war. Speaking to a convention of veterans Wednesday, Senator Kerry said Mr. Bush's actions have failed to make Iraq safe.

Senator Kerry told veterans at the American Legion national convention in Nashville, Tennessee that President Bush's actions following the swift defeat of the Iraqi army have failed to make Iraq a safe and stable place.

"Our differences could not be plainer and I have set them out consistently," he said. "When it comes to Iraq, it's not that I would have done one thing differently, I would have done almost everything differently."

The Democratic candidate, in his speech to America's largest veterans group, asserted that Mr. Bush's policies have allowed terrorists to secure new havens in Iraq, violence to spread, extremism to gain momentum in the country, and the radical government in Iran to gain influence.

"By dismissing the State Department's plan for post-war Iraq, and proceeding unilaterally, the civilian leadership simply did not put in place the mechanism to be able to secure the country. They were unprepared for the looting, insecurity and insurgency that burst out with the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime," he said.

Senator Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran and a member of the American Legion, nevertheless expressed confidence that with what he called the right policies, the war against terrorism can be won. He also said he "absolutely disagrees" with President Bush's recent remark that the war against terror might not be winnable.

President Bush clarified the comment Tuesday, telling the same veterans group that he believes America will win the fight against terrorism.

Mr. Kerry also noted that despite the Bush administration's efforts in Afghanistan, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden remains at large. He told the veterans group that he would have sent the best trained forces in the world to get, what he called the number one criminal in the world.

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