John Kerry’s argument in today’s New York Times hits the nail on the head.
As someone who has known him since we both served on Swift Boats in Vietnam, I know that John at his best is a voice of reason and action and conscience.
Today he clearly understands that we have allowed ourselves to become referees in the middle of burgeoning Civil War, an untenable and unwinnable position.
John calls for the right mix of toughness, diplomacy, involvement of the other Middle Eastern States and the United Nations (all of who have at least as big a stake in a secure, stable, and peaceful Iraq as the United States) to address the situation.
Most importantly, he gets tough – he sends a mandate to the members of the Iraqi Provisional Government to set aside their own personal agendas and seriously assume responsibility for their own governance and security.
Although he does not specifically address the issue, John knows that comparisons between Iraq and our earliest struggles for freedom are not valid. Unlike our war for independence, the Iraqis won’t clean up their own house because they see us as the British intruders — and so they let the insurgents call the shots.
Yes, governments take time, but they cannot be born unless those within that burgeoning government take charge and assume responsibility. Critics have claimed that timetables empower the insurgency. However, to stay indefinitely with no focused timelines and expectations, only provides greater fuel to insurgency and reinforces inaction by the Iraqi politicians. Far from leaving the Iraqis in the lurch, John is challenging them to take responsibility and get their act together.
With Iraqi’s on the forefront of governance and security, the Iraqi people will better understand where responsibility for their security and safety resides, and the insurgency will no longer be fighting what they see as ‘the infidel’ and the Iraqis will instead kick out the jihadists in their midst.
Editor’s Note: Wade Sanders is a Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy and retired Navy Captain