Monday, September 20, 2004

Kerry's Speech at NYU - Excerpt #2

In June, the President declared, “The Iraqi people have their country back.” Just last week, he told us: “This country is headed toward democracy… Freedom is on the march.” But the administration’s own official intelligence estimate, given to the President last July, tells a very different story. According to press reports, the intelligence estimate totally contradicts what the President is saying to the American people. So do the facts on the ground.

Security is deteriorating, for us and for the Iraqis. 42 Americans died in Iraq in June -- the month before the handover. But 54 died in July…66 in August… and already 54 halfway through September. And more than 1,100 Americans were wounded in August – more than in any other month since the invasion. We are fighting a growing insurgency in an ever widening war-zone. In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times. In August, they attacked 2,700 times – a 400% increase. Falluja…Ramadi… Samarra … even parts of Baghdad – are now “no go zones”… breeding grounds for terrorists who are free to plot and launch attacks against our soldiers. The radical Shi’a cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, who’s accused of complicity in the murder of Americans, holds more sway in the suburbs of Baghdad. Violence against Iraqis… from bombings to kidnappings to intimidation … is on the rise.

Basic living conditions are also deteriorating. Residents of Baghdad are suffering electricity blackouts lasting up to 14 hours a day. Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees. Children wade through garbage on their way to school. Unemployment is over 50 percent. Insurgents are able to find plenty of people willing to take $150 for tossing grenades at passing U.S. convoys.

Yes, there has been some progress, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our soldiers and civilians in Iraq. Schools, shops and hospitals have been opened. In parts of Iraq, normalcy actually prevails. But most Iraqis have lost faith in our ability to deliver meaningful improvements to their lives. So they’re sitting on the fence… instead of siding with us against the insurgents.

That is the truth. The truth that the Commander in Chief owes to our troops and the American people.


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