Kristol falsely asserted that Sen. Kennedy wants to continue failed Iraq strategy

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

On Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol misrepresented Sen. Ted Kennedy's "current position" on Iraq as a plan to "continue to pursue a strategy which has not been winning." In fact, Kennedy was one of only 13 senators who voted to withdraw troops from Iraq by July 2007.

On the December 17 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol falsely characterized Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's (D-MA) "current position" on Iraq as a plan to "continue to pursue a strategy which has not been winning." Kristol also claimed that Kennedy's position was "incoherent" because it suggests that "[t]he war, under the supervision of [then-Defense] Secretary [Donald H.] Rumsfeld and General [John] Abizaid and General [George] Casey, has been going downhill" while at the same time arguing that "we've got to listen and defer to General Abizaid and General Casey."

Kristol appeared to be commenting on a statement Kennedy made earlier in the program during an interview with host Chris Wallace. Asked to comment on the proposal that the United States "surge another 50,000 troops into Iraq," Kennedy said, "We have heard in the Armed Services Committee, General Casey, General [Peter] Chiarelli and General Abizaid, who believe that adding additional troops would enhance and increase what they call the footprint and enhance the kinds of antagonisms against the United States forces at the present time." However, in endorsing the generals' claim that additional troops would not improve the situation in Iraq, Kennedy was not arguing in favor of continuing the current strategy, as Kristol suggested. Rather, Kennedy was using the generals' recommendations to bolster his claim that adding more troops is not the answer. As Kennedy said earlier in the broadcast, "I don't believe that that would stabilize the country, nor do I think it'll bring victory."

Kristol did not address the option of withdrawal, suggesting that the only available options were either to add more troops or keep troop levels the same -- a false choice. Kennedy was one of only 13 senators to vote for the so-called "Kerry amendment" to the National Defense Authorization Act, which called on President Bush to "redeploy, commencing in 2006, United States forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007." Additionally, a statement on Kennedy's website recommended that 2006 be "a year of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with the Iraqis assuming primary responsibility for securing and governing their country and with the responsible redeployment of U.S. forces."

From the December 17 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: Bill, I want to ask you about one aspect of this that [Fox News Washington bureau managing editor and fellow panelist] Brit [Hume] kind of referred to. You are clearly on record supporting the surge option. We know where General Kristol stands. But throughout this war, the president has always that said that he listens to his commanders on the ground. It came out again this week that General Abizaid -- the top U.S. commander in the Middle East -- General Casey -- the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq -- have both expressed strong reservations about sending in more U.S. troops. How does the president now justify, if he's going to go this route, ignoring his commanders on the ground?

KRISTOL: Well, the war isn't going so well. I mean, this is what's incoherent about Senator Kennedy's position. His position is: the war is a disaster -- the war, under the supervision of Secretary Rumsfeld and General Abizaid and General Casey, has been going downhill -- but we've got to listen and defer to General Abizaid and General Casey.

WALLACE: I think he'd say you should listen to General Kennedy, who thought you'd never should have gotten into the war in the first place.

KRISTOL: Well, fair enough. But his current position, with 140,000 troops there, is that we should listen to the people -- follow the strategy -- continue to pursue a strategy which has not been winning. And that is not the president's view.

I think, with the departure of Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld, the president decided a month ago, "I have to take charge of this war." He's ordered a thorough review of options, and it's a genuine review, I believe, led by Stephen Hadley in the White House, the national security adviser. They've looked at a whole bunch of options.

And I think the president believes that the option articulated especially by retired Army vice chief of staff Jack Keane, who was in the meeting with the president last Monday, that we can surge troops, and it will make an effect -- it will have an effect. It will stabilize Baghdad, it will give us a real chance to get the situation enough under control to allow the political process to begin again. I think the president is convinced that that's the way to go.

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