(CNSNews.com) - The same day that President George W. Bush addressed the United Nations on the subject of Iraq, his Democratic challenger Sen. John F. Kerry criticized Bush for living in a "world of fantasy spin" instead of a "world of reality" when addressing the current conditions in Iraq.
Kerry said the president "failed to level" with the UN about Iraq. "Moments after Kofi Annan, the secretary general, talked about the difficulties in Iraq, the president stood before the stony-faced body and barely talked about the realities in all of Iraq," the Democrat said.
"After lecturing them instead of leading them to understand how we are all together with a stake in the outcome of Iraq, I believe the president missed an opportunity of enormous importance for our nation and for the world," Kerry said, calling the president's credibility into question.
"He does not have the credibility to lead the world, and he did not and will not offer the leadership in order to do what we need to do protect our troops, to be successful and win the war on terror in an effective way," Kerry added.
Kerry's approach would be "fundamentally different," he said, one that would "get other nations to join us" even if they don't accept "risky operations."
"We need not to stay the course, but to change the course so we can be successful, and the urgency grows with every single day," the Democrat said.
"Terrorists are pouring" across the Iraqi border, Kerry said, taking advantage of the lack of border security, and U.S. troops stationed there are facing more terrorists now than ever before.
"Even Secretary [of State Colin] Powell has admitted that - that Iraq has become a magnet for terrorists," Kerry said. He also questioned why troops don't have the allies they need and are bearing 90 percent of the costs.
"This is not the grand alliance the president promised America," Kerry said and pointed to recent comments made by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who said he believes the war in Iraq was illegal.
"If the leader of the United Nations is at odds with the legality and we're not working at getting over that hurdle and bringing people to the table...it's imperative to be able to build international cooperation," Kerry said.
"Kofi Annan offered the help of the United Nations months ago. This president chose to go the other way, to leave them at the side and then he desperately sort of wandered back to try to pull them back in at the last moment, and he has done nothing to get the resolution that was passed actually implemented," he added.
Kerry defended his decision to vote for the presidential authority to go to war, saying it was correct, "because we needed to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for weapons. That's what America believed, but this president made a series of decisions after that that broke his promises both to the American people and to the Congress."
According to Kerry, Bush failed to show diplomacy, the wisdom and the judgment, necessary "to bring other nations to our side." Bush failed to "exhaust the remedies of inspections so that you either found out that there were no weapons of mass destruction or you found that you really had to proceed with the world at your side," Kerry added.
"Either way we would have been better off. And finally, he did not go to war as a last resort," Kerry said. "And Americans now understand that. So my vote was a vote to do this the right way."
Kerry also clarified that his vote for authorization was a vote giving the president the authority to make the judgment as to whether to go to war after an ongoing process of building allies through the UN.
"The vote for authorization is interpreted by a lot of people as a vote to go to war, but if you read it and if you think about what it gave the president, it gave the president what he said: 'America will speak with one voice,'" said Kerry. "In Cincinnati, the president said, 'We will plan carefully. We will go with our allies.' He laid out a series of his own standards."
When asked whether he believes the world is better off without Saddam Hussein, Kerry agreed, saying, "he deserves his own special place in hell, but that doesn't mean that you go to war in an irresponsible way that puts America at greater risk."
"That doesn't mean that you take your eye off the ball, which was Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and rush to war just to get rid of him," Kerry added. "They have replaced a dictator with chaos and chaos in a way that puts America and Iraqis at much greater risk. I believe there was a more responsible way to do it.
"If you don't have weapons of mass destruction, believe me, Saddam Hussein is a much different person. That's what kept him in power, and I believe Saddam Hussein would not be in power," the Democrat said.
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