Kerry Edwards Fact Sheet On Iraq War & Policy
Bush’s Rhetoric Does Not Match Reality in Iraq
Fills Stump Speeches with Happy Talk on Iraq
Bush: “Our strategy is succeeding… Despite ongoing violence in Iraq, that country now has a strong Prime Minister, a national council, and national elections are scheduled in January.” [Bush Remarks, 9/14/04]
Bush: “We’re making progress there. I’m impressed -- I’m impressed by Prime Minister Allawi. He’s a strong guy who believes that democracy is the future of Iraq, and he’s got hard work to do. It wasn’t all that long ago that people were brutalized by Saddam Hussein. But we’re making progress.” [Bush Remarks, 9/9/04]
Bush: “We talked about Iraq, the way forward in Iraq, the way to help the Iraqis get to elections. We’re making progress on the ground.” [Bush Remarks, 8/23/04]
Bush: “We talked about Iraq, and I told him I was pleased with the progress being made in Iraq, and the prime minister had some helpful suggestions.” [Bush Remarks, 7/19/04]
New Intelligence Report Shows Bush Is Not Telling the Truth about the Situation in Iraq
Bush Received Briefing With Pessimistic Predictions For Iraq. Bush received a classified National Intelligence Estimate in late July which “spells out a dark assessment of prospects for Iraq.” The three possibilities outlined in the estimate paint a grim picture for Iraq through the end of 2005, “with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war, the officials said. The most favorable outcome described is an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms.” A government official who read the document admits “there’s a significant amount of pessimism.” [New York Times, 9/16/04]
Pessimistic Estimate Was Produced Even Before Recent Worsening Of The Situation On The Ground In Iraq. The pessimistic conclusions in the estimate, produced by the National Intelligence Council and approved by Acting C.I.A. Director McLaughlin in July, “were reached even before the recent worsening of the security situation in Iraq, which has included a sharp increase in attacks on American troops and in deaths of Iraqi civilians as well as resistance fighters.” [New York Times, 9/16/04]
Reality on the Ground in Iraq
Regions Of Iraq Are Still Under The Control Of Insurgents. Major Iraqi cities including Ramadi, Fallujah, Samarra, and Bukhara remain under the control of insurgents. Retaking the cities depends on having adequately trained and equipped Iraqi soldiers, which Rumsfeld and Myers admit may not happen until December - one month before Iraq’s scheduled elections. [NBC, “Meet The Press,” 9/12/04; Rumsfeld/Myers New Briefing, 9/7/04]
-Two Americans Recently Kidnapped In Iraq. Two Americans and Briton were kidnapped in Iraq by insurgents on Thursday. Throughout the 17-month insurgency, more than 100 foreigners have been kidnapped. [Associated Press, 9/16/04]
-More Troops Have Died Since The Handover Of Sovereignty Than In The Initial Invasion. Since the transfer of sovereignty on June 28, at least 162 American troops have been killed; 138 were killed in March and April of 2003. [Washington Post, 9/9/04]
-More Troops Died In August Than In July; More In July Than June. In August, 66 U.S. service personnel were killed in Iraq. American forces suffered 54 casualties in July as compared to 42 in the month of June. [Wash Post, 9/5/04]
-Attacks On U.S. Forces Have Been Increasing Since The Transfer Of Sovereignty. On average, U.S. forces are now being attacked 60 times per day. This is a 20% increase from the three months before the transfer of sovereignty. [Los Angeles Times, 8/31/04]
-Number Of Soldiers Wounded Has Doubled
Since April. The total number of American soldiers wounded
since the invasion was launched in March 2003 is 7,245.
There were more wounded over the past five months - about
4,000 - than in the first 13 months of the war, when there
were about 3,300. [Associated Press, 9/1/04, 9/15/04; Time,
August Was Month of Highest Injury Toll In Iraq. “About 1,100 U.S. soldiers and Marines were wounded in Iraq during August, by far the highest combat injury toll for any month since the war began...” [Wash Post, 9/5/04]
-U.S. Forces Are Still Doing The Majority Of the Fighting. In the recent fighting in Sadr City, U.S. forces “appeared to be carrying out most - if not all - of the fighting.” [Associated Press, 9/7/04]
Requests Reconstruction Funding Be Shifted To Security. In
an indication of the Bush Administration’s failure to plan
for the increasing violence in post-war Iraq, the Bush
Administration asked Congress to shift $3.4 from the
reconstruction to the security of Iraq. [Associated Press,
Hagel: Failure of Reconstructing Iraq Shows “We Are In Deep Trouble.” Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said it “does not add up, in my opinion, to a pretty picture, to a picture that shows that we’re winning. But it does add up to this, an acknowledgment that we are in deep trouble.” [NYT, 9/16/04]
Lugar: “Lack of Planning Is Apparent.” Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) said the slow pace of spending on reconstruction “means that we are failing to fully take advantage of one of our most potent tools to influence the direction of Iraq.” Lugar criticized “the blindly optimistic people” inside and outside the administration. “The lack of planning is apparent,” he said. [AP, 9/15/04]
-Bush Losing Coalition Forces In Iraq. Since the beginning of the war, eight countries are planning to or have already withdrawn troops from the coalition in Iraq: Thailand, Norway,
Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Philippines, Singapore, and Spain. In all, nearly 3,000 troops have pulled out or planning to pull out of Iraq this month. Costa Rica asked the United States to remove it from a list of Iraq coalition partners in September after the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that inclusion on the list violated the Constitution, which bars support for any military action not authorized by the United Nations. [AP, 8/13/04, 9/10/04]
-Annan Said Lack Of Security May Threaten January Elections. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said that the continuing violence in Iraq “may threaten elections planned for January.” [Reuters, 9/8/04]
A New Military to Meet New Threats
Our military is overextended and our troops are overburdened. Nine out of ten active duty Army divisions are committed to Iraq, either currently there, preparing to go, or recently returned. Forty percent of our forces in Iraq are from the Guard and Reserves, and far too many have been on the ground for much longer than was expected or promised. A new report by the General Accounting Office says that the military is in danger of running out of guard and reserve troops. We simply cannot continue like this. The challenges of this new era require a new direction and new solutions.
John Kerry and John Edwards have a plan to transform the world's most powerful military to better address the modern threats of terrorism and the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, while ensuring that we have enough properly trained and equipped troops to meet our enduring strategic and regional missions. To accomplish this, they will (1) expand our active duty forces, (2) double America's Army Special Forces capability and increase other specialized personnel, (3) complete the process of transformation, (4) prepare the National Guard for 21st century missions by adding homeland security as an additional National Guard mission and giving members the benefits they deserve, (5) invest in national security beyond the Department of Defense, and (6) enact a Military Family Bill of Rights to relieve the burden on military families. And John Kerry will ensure that returning veterans receive the transitional support and employment protection that they deserve.
Expand America's Active Duty Forces As president, John Kerry will ensure that our military has sufficient troop strength to protect our national security without placing an undue burden on the men and women of our armed forces. He will:
- Add 40,000 Troops to the Active Duty Army to Prevent and Prepare for Other Possible Conflicts (not to increase the overall number of soldiers in Iraq). Currently, the Bush administration is relying on temporary solutions including "Stop Loss" orders, recalling the Individual Ready Reserve and extending tours to meet our commitments. These temporary measures have increased the burden on our troops and their families without addressing the underlying reality: we need more troops.
- Double America's Army Special Forces Capability and Increase Other Specialized Personnel John Kerry and John Edwards recognize the critical role of the Special Forces and other specialized personnel play in America's military. As president, John Kerry will:
- Double the Army's Special Forces Capability by the End of his First Term. As part of the 40,000 new troops, John Kerry will double Army Special Forces capabilities in his first four years as president. His plan calls for adding 3,500 active duty and 1,400 reserve Army Special Forces personnel.
- Increase Active-Duty and Reserve Civil Affairs Personnel. As president, John Kerry will increase by 1,200 the number of civil affairs personnel - 200 active-duty and 1,000 reserves. Today's missions are increasingly dependent on civil affairs skills that are needed in post-conflict situations.
Complete the Process of Transformation John Kerry and John Edwards are committed to building an American military that leverages technology, training and education across the spectrum of conflict and more fully integrates the active duty, National Guard and Reserves into a new “Total Force” ready for the challenges of the 21st Century. To advance this transformation, John Kerry will:
- Invest in the Right Technologies. As president, John Kerry will focus defense investment in advanced communications and information technologies, command, control, and intelligence technologies, precision weapons that can produce lethal and non-lethal effects, and data fusion technologies to enhance situational awareness and improve intelligence assessments.
- Improve Counter-Proliferation Capabilities. As president, John Kerry will strengthen counter-proliferation capabilities to deter, defend and protect the United States and its allies against weapons of mass destruction. He will create new counter-proliferation units that are trained, equipped and prepared to intercept and disable nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and secure any related facilities.
- Educate and Train Our Forces for the 21st Century. As president, John Kerry will make sure that all aspects of troops’ education and training - including basic training, weapons training, combat simulations and professional military education - are fully supported. As president, he will provide all necessary resources to military education from the service academies to the war colleges. No soldier, sailor, airman or Marine will ever go into harm’s way inadequately trained.
Prepare the National Guard for 21st Century Missions As president, John Kerry will integrate the National Guard into our broader homeland security strategy and ensure that they receive the benefits they deserve by:
- Make Homeland Security an Important Additional Mission of the National Guard. Large deployments of Guard members to Iraq have actually weakened local defenses because so many members of the Guard are first responders in their communities - fire fighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians. As president, John Kerry will assign National Guard units as an additional mission to a standing joint task force, commanded by a National Guard General. This task force will train for and be prepared to participate with others in a coordinated strategy to protect our homeland, working with the states and the federal government to respond in times of crisis.
- Ensure that all National Guardsmen and Military Reservists have access to TRICARE for as long as they are in the service. Members of the National Guard and Reserve are fighting and dying alongside members of the active duty component. John Kerry believes that these brave Americans deserve access to the same level of healthcare as others in the military. John Kerry supports legislation to provide full access to TRICARE, the military’s health care system, for members of the National Guard and Reserves. George W. Bush says he supports giving members of the National Guard and Reserves access to TRICARE – but only for 90 days before they report for active duty and 180 days after. He opposes providing TRICARE to members of the Guard and Reserves for all of the time they are in the service – in fact, the administration threatened to veto the 2004 defense authorization legislation if it included an expansion of TRICARE. As president, John Kerry will work to ensure the members of the Guard and Reserves get what they deserve – access to TRICARE at all times during their service.
- Improve Retirement Benefits for the National Guard and Reserves. The deal made between the country and members of the National Guard and Reserves is broken. It was never anticipated we would use these forces to the extent we are using them today, and the retirement system has not kept pace. As president, John Kerry will examine all options to improve retirement benefits for America’s citizen-soldiers.
Invest in National Security beyond the Department of Defense. John Kerry knows that America’s power is not limited to its military might. To increase our capabilities government-wide, John Kerry will:
- Transform the Current Professional Senior Military Education System into a National Security University System. The challenge we face today requires the full, coordinated response of the federal government. We must invest in our people, their intellectual capital, their strategic thinking, and their understanding of the national security challenges we face. John Kerry will transform the current professional senior military education system into a national security university system to prepare more people from across the federal government, including more members of the National Guard, to think and act strategically in the security environment of the twenty-first century.
- Create a National Security Service Corps. John Kerry and John Edwards believe that America must invest in its ability to win the peace as surely as it does its ability to win wars. To meet this need, they will create a National Security Service Corps to harness the skills and energies of Americans from across the country who can provide expertise on a range of civil affairs around the world. They will lift some of this burden from the Department of Defense, and improve our ability to prevent wars and, when necessary, win the peace.
Enact a Military Family Bill of Rights The Kerry-Edwards Military Family Bill of Rights will provide military families with competitive pay, good housing, decent health care, quality education for their children, first rate training and the best possible weaponry, armor and state-of-the-art equipment. The Military Family Bill of Rights will also provide assistance to families affected by extended deployments, or injury or death in the line of duty. And military families
will receive the best possible information on deployments and the gratitude of our nation in the form of a responsive government when military service is completed.
- Raise Standards for all Family Housing Units. As president, John Kerry will accelerate the construction of new military housing by providing incentives for private developers to build new housing on or near military bases and lease it to military families at a rate consistent with their housing allowances.
- Ensure Service Members and Families Receive Adequate Health Care. As president, John Kerry will fight to permanently extend TRICARE eligibility to members of the National Guard and Reserve.
- Penalty-Free Withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) for Deployment Expenses. As president, John Kerry will ensure that service members can make penalty-free withdrawals from IRA for expenses associated with deployments.
- Make Family Separation Allowance Permanent. The Bush administration tried to cut the family separation allowance. As president, John Kerry will make it permanent and index it to inflation.
- Increase Benefits for Families of the Fallen. When a soldier makes the supreme sacrifice, he or she should have the peace of mind that their families will be provided for. The Kerry-Edwards administration will do that by increasing the compensation a military family receives at time of death to $250,000 and permitting surviving families to remain in military housing for up to one year.
Renew America’s Promise to its Veterans. As president, John Kerry will continue his efforts to ensure that we never forget those who put their lives on the line to defend America. He will:
- Ensure Access to Health Care for All Veterans. John Kerry will end the game of playing politics with funding for veterans health care. As president, Kerry will push for mandatory funding for veterans health care so that America never pits veterans in one state against veterans in another again.
- Streamline the Veterans’ Health Care System. Too many veterans wait in line to receive health care from the Veterans’ health care system. John Kerry will work to streamline this process so that veterans hear in a timely manner about their status and their benefits. And he’ll use America’s technological know-how to cut administrative costs by eliminating the billions of dollars lost through waste, fraud, and abuse in the health care system.
- End the Disabled Veterans Tax. John Kerry will fight to end the “disabled veterans tax,” under which military retirees who receive both veterans’ pensions and disability compensation must surrender a dollar from their military retirement pay for every dollar they get for disability compensation, for all military retirees. The Bush Administration has fought to keep this unfair tax in place for many military retirees.
Ensure Transitional Assistance for Returning Veterans. Nearly 4,000 of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan have not returned to duty. Many have been severely injured and face permanent disability. These individuals with combat-related injuries, including mental health symptoms such as post-traumatic stress disorder, face real challenges and find adjustment to civilian life difficult. While the Army has a pilot assistance program for returning veterans, the lack of personnel and funding has limited the program to severely disabled soldiers. As president, John Kerry will make a commitment to transitional assistance for all those returning from war. He will:
- Expand the Existing Support Program. Kerry will make the Army’s existing transitional support program available to all Armed Forces personnel, regardless of their service, and expand the level of support provided to all disabled veterans.
- Increase Agency Representation to Provide Comprehensive Services. Kerry will incorporate representatives from all applicable federal agencies to provide a robust, comprehensive support program that allows disabled veterans and their families to avail themselves of all the federal programs that they are entitled to.
- Utilize Veterans for Support Roles. Kerry will work to ensure that the assistance program takes advantage of the experience and expertise of the volunteers from the Veterans Service Organizations, the majority of whom are veterans who can provide camaraderie and advice to newly disabled veterans.
- Ease Transition for all Returning Service Personnel. Kerry will expand the existing program to provide the assistance needed to ease the transition of all service personnel returning to civilian life, including navigating the bureaucratic maze of obtaining veterans benefits, finding or modifying housing, securing a good job, or returning to school.
Protect the Jobs of Members of the National Guard and Reserves. Returning service personnel deserve to have full employment protection. Yet the Department of Labor expects to receive 1,440 formal complaints this year under the law that guarantees service members their jobs back upon return from active duty. And since 9/11 there have been more than 3,500 complaints by service members who have had employment difficulties -- in Ohio alone, there were some 236 employment complaints by demobilized troops from FY 2002 through May 2004. John Kerry believes that a job left for duty is a job waiting on return. As president, he will:
- Vigorously Enforce the Employment Protection Law. Kerry will vigorously enforce the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Act so that employers know that they must provide – and returning Reservists and National Guardsmen know that they will receive -- all the protections required under the law.
- Provide Tax Incentives to Small Businesses. Kerry will provide small businesses with tax incentives to make up the difference between a reservists civilian and military pay, while protecting the business so that it’s there when the reservist returns home.