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Kerry Criticizes Bush's Use of Force in Iraq - 2004-05-27


Democratic Party presidential candidate John Kerry has criticized President Bush's use of force in Iraq, which he says has undermined U.S. leadership. Mr. Kerry, who spoke in Seattle, promised an America that, in the candidate's words, "will listen and lead again."

Mr. Kerry said Mr. Bush ignored the advice of professional military officers when he used force in Iraq before exhausting diplomatic channels. The presumed Democratic nominee says, as president, he would build international alliances, update the military to face new threats and use diplomacy, intelligence and economic power to boost security. He also promised to free the United States from what he calls a "dangerous dependence" on foreign oil.

He questioned whether President Bush can rally world support for the planned transfer of authority to an interim Iraqi government June 30.

"Will our allies promise to send troops to Iraq?" he asked. "Will they dedicate substantially more funding for reconstruction there? Will they pledge a real effort to aid in the transformation of the Middle East? "

A spokesman for the Bush campaign accused the Democrat with playing politics with the war in Iraq and he said Mr. Kerry's approach to the war on terror "has been filled with indecision and vacillation."

Mr. Kerry said, if elected, he will work to stop terrorists from getting weapons of mass destruction. Also, he said the United States will seek the help of other countries in fighting global terrorism.

He said he has a message for those who may be plotting an attack against the United States in this election year.

"Let there be no doubt. This country is united in its determination to defeat terrorism," he stated.

He says, as commander-in-chief, he would bring the full force of U.S. power to crushing terrorist networks. Aides say Mr. Kerry will expand on the theme of national security in speeches over the next 10 days.