"The war in Iraq was misconceived from start to finish -- if it has a finish. It is a war of choice, not necessity, in spite of what President Bush says. The arms inspections and sanctions were working. In response to American pressure, the United Nations had finally agreed on a strong stand. As long as the inspectors were on the ground, Saddam Hussein could not possibly pose a threat to our security. We could have declared victory but President Bush insisted on going to war.
"We went to war on false pretences. The real reasons for going into Iraq have not been revealed to this day. The weapons of mass destruction could not be found, and the connection with al Qaeda could not be established. President Bush then claimed that we went to war to liberate the people of Iraq. All my experience in fostering democracy and open society has taught me that democracy cannot be imposed by military means. And, Iraq would be the last place I would chose for an experiment in introducing democracy - as the current chaos demonstrates.
"Of course, Saddam was a tyrant, and of course Iraqis - and the rest of the world - can rejoice to be rid of him. But Iraqis now hate the American occupation. We stood idly by while Baghdad was ransacked. As the occupying power, we had an obligation to maintain law and order, but we failed to live up to it. If we had cared about the people of Iraq we should have had more troops available for the occupation than we needed for the invasion. We should have provided protection not only for the oil ministry but also the other ministries, museums and hospitals. Baghdad and the country's other cities were destroyed after we occupied them. When we encountered resistance, we employed methods that alienated and humiliated the population. The way we invaded homes, and the way we treated prisoners generated resentment and rage. Public opinion condemns us worldwide.
"The number of flipflops and missteps committed by the Bush administration in Iraq far exceeds anything John Kerry can be accused of. First we dissolved the Iraqi army, then we tried to reconstitute it. First we tried to eliminate the Baathists, then we turned to them for help. First we installed General Jay Garner to run the country, then we gave it to Paul Bremer and when the insurgency became intractable, we installed an Iraqi government. The man we chose was a protégé of the CIA with the reputation of a strong man - a far cry from democracy. First we attacked Falluja over the objections of the Marine commander on the ground, then pulled them out when the assault was half-way through, again over his objections." (from the original speech; PDF)