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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

John Kerry for President

John Kerry speaking about Iraq at the Council on Foreign Relations, December 3, 2003

. "I believe if the UN role is absolutely clear and substantively real, the Secretary General and members of the Security Council will support this course of action. But one thing is beyond doubt: we will continue to have difficulty persuading other countries, particularly those with meaningful military capabilities, to contribute troops and funds for reconstruction unless and until we vest real responsibility in the hands of the United Nations and the international community. I have said before - and I repeat today -- that the Bush Administration should swallow its pride and reverse course. But the evidence is strong that it lacks the wisdom or will to do so.

In fact, I fear that in the run up to the 2004 election the Administration is considering what is tantamount to a cut and run strategy. Their sudden embrace of accelerated Iraqification and American troop withdrawal without adequate stability is an invitation to failure. The hard work of rebuilding Iraq must not be dictated by the schedule of the next American election. I have called for the Administration to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people as quickly as circumstances permit. But it would be a disaster and a disgraceful betrayal of principle to speed up the process simply to lay the groundwork for a politically expedient withdrawal of American troops. This could risk the hijacking of Iraq by terrorist groups and former Baathists. Security and political stability cannot be divorced. Security must come first and that is why it is so imperative to succeed in building a genuine coalition on the ground in Iraq..

An international effort in Iraq is indispensable, but only the start of the new era of alliances in which the United States must lead and re-engage the world..

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