During the 2004 election, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) explained that success against terrorism will occur when terrorist acts, such as those in Iraq, are reduced to the level that “they’re a nuisance.” Kerry explained gains can be made against terrorism when “it isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.”
For laying out an honest assessment of his counterterrorism approach, Kerry was mercilessly attacked by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Rudy Giuliani:
BUSH: Just this weekend we saw new evidence that the Senator fundamentally misunderstands the war against terror. … Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level of nuisance. Our goal is to defeat terror by staying on the offensive, destroying the networks, and spreading freedom and liberty. [10/12/04]
CHENEY: Nor can we think of our goal in this war in the way Senator Kerry described it yesterday in The New York Times. Quote: “We have to get back to the place,” he said, where terrorism is “a nuisance,” sort of like – and these are his comparisons — sort of like gambling and prostitution. This is naive and dangerous. [10/11/04]
GIULIANI: “In a conference call with reporters arranged by the Bush campaign, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, mocked Mr. Kerry for comparing terrorism to gambling and prostitution. ‘The idea that you can have an acceptable level of terrorism is frightening,’ Mr. Giuliani said.” [NYT, 10/12/04]
But today in his remarks on Iraq, President Bush — without saying so explicitly — embraced Kerry’s definition of success against terrorism. “Success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives.” Watch it:
Bush is late in understanding how to fight terror. And while his rhetoric suggests his views have evolved, his policy has not.
BUSH: Either we’ll succeed, or we won’t succeed. And the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not, no violence. There are parts of our own country that have got a certain level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve.