KERRY: We should not have gone to war knowing the information that we know today.
SAWYER: So it was not worth it?
KERRY: We should not -- depends on the outcome ultimately...
What I first thought was wishy washy equivocating actually does represent a consistent thread of logic. It took me a while to realize it but these two interviews, the one above with Diane Sawyer and the following with Time Magazine, combined with Kerry's position on the First Iraqi War make it abundantly clear that Kerry supports wars after we know how they are going to turn out.
"I've had one position, one consistent position, that Saddam Hussein was a threat. There was a right way to disarm him and a wrong way. And the president chose the wrong way."
Unfortunately we sometimes don't know whether or not a war will be 'successful' or not beforehand. That's why it's so important to keep all of your options open. It's also the likely reason that when you are making the ultimate decision on whether to go to war or not you should not take the risk. What's more important than being on the right side of an issue after all?
...and that depends on the leadership, and we need better leadership to get the job done successfully. But I would not have gone to war knowing that there was no imminent threat --
KERRY: -- weapons of mass destruction. There was no connection of Al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein. The president misled the American people, plain and simple, bottom line.
SAWYER: So, if it turns out okay it was worth it, but right now it wasn't worth it?
KERRY: No. It was a mistake to do what he did, but we have to succeed now that we've done.
SAWYER: So you're saying that today, even if Saddam Hussein were in power today it would be a better thing, that you would prefer?
KERRY: No, I would not prefer that. Diane, don't twist here.
SAWYER: No, no, no --
KERRY: This is very simple.
SAWYER: If the choices were to get him out by war --
KERRY: Knowing there --
SAWYER: -- or not.
KERRY: -- was no imminent threat to America, knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, knowing there was no connection of Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda, I would not have gone to war. That's plain and simple.
rush.com (ABC chose to heavily edit their transcript. They put an excerpted 'Kerry campaign version' of the transcript of this interview on their website rather than what was actually broadcast.)
Thanks to John Kerry's enormous pre-war leadership we now know that going to war to disarm Saddam was the wrong decision. We shouldn't have gone to war unless we were sure Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Well, actually, we could have disarmed Saddam without war, because the inspections were working. Which is why he voted to authorize the war, uh-- to threaten the use of force, so that Saddam would disarm. But we now know that we should not have gone to war knowing the information that we know today: Saddam didn't have any WMD. He wasn't an imminent threat after all. Which was the whole point of the inspections after all.
So you see, it all depends on the outcome. If we go to war, like say in 1991, and it turns out that we kicked ass and brought all the soldiers home, no harm done. It's a good war. Despite not voting for it. If we go to war, say to disarm Saddam, and it turns out Saddam is already disarmed and we have to stay and occupy the country, it's a bad war. Despite voting for it. But that doesn't mean that you would prefer that Saddam stay in power. It just means that removing Saddam from power was only necessary if we had found out that Saddam did have all kinds of WMD laying around. Otherwise you're just removing a dictator, transforming a totalitarian society, and changing the dynamics in the Middle East and that's not a legitimate cause for war while we're fighting the war on terror.
TIME: Obviously it's good that Saddam is out of power. Was bringing him down worth the cost?
KERRY: If there are no weapons of mass destruction— and we may yet find some—then this is a war that was fought on false pretenses, because that was the justification to the American people, to the Congress, to the world, and that was clearly the frame of my vote of consent. I said it as clearly as you can in my speech. I suggested that all the evils of Saddam Hussein alone were not a cause to go to war.
TIME: So, if we don't find WMD, the war wasn't worth the costs? That's a yes?
KERRY: No, I think you can still—wait, no. You can't—that's not a fair question, and I'll tell you why. You can wind up successful in transforming Iraq and changing the dynamics, and that may make it worth it, but that doesn't mean [transforming Iraq] was the cause [that provided the] legitimacy to go. You have to have that distinction. pejmanesque.com