Brooks, Gaffney cut and run from the truth on Kerry speech

Following Senator John Kerry's September 20 speech laying out a plan for an internationalized effort in Iraq and a renewed focus on threats to American security, conservative columnists David Brooks and Frank J. Gaffney Jr. distorted and misrepresented Kerry's remarks to suggest that he favors an “irresponsible” and hasty withdrawal from the conflict.

In his September 21 column in The Washington Times, Gaffney, founder and president of the conservative Center for Security Policy, wrote that Kerry's foreign policy would “position him to draw support from swing voters who decide, in the end, they would rather cut-and-run from” Iraq. Gaffney concluded that, by following Kerry, the United States would “abandon Iraq to its fate.” Writing the same day in The New York Times, Brooks averred that “Kerry declared that it is time to get out, beginning next summer,” and that Kerry is “picking the withdrawal camp.”

In fact, rather than promoting unilateral withdrawal by summer 2005 (an option conservative columnist Robert D. Novak wrote that the Bush administration is currently considering), Kerry's speech predicated withdrawal from the conflict on increased international involvement and suggested that the removal of troops from Iraq might be possible over the next four years:

If the president would move in this direction ... if he would bring in more help from other countries to provide resources and forces ... train the Iraqis to provide their own security ... develop a reconstruction plan that brings real benefits to the Iraqi people ... and take the steps necessary to hold credible elections next year ... we could begin to withdraw U.S. forces starting next summer and realistically aim to bring all our troops home within the next four years.