It depends on what you mean by “perhaps”

I wrote today about why Kerry is wrong in his criticism of Bush’s announcement that the US would withdraw some troops from garrisons around the world. I think I was totally correct in my assessment.

But ACE pointed out that Kerry himself suggested, not three weeks ago, that some troops in Korea and Europe might be pulled home. In the Boston Herald, covering an ABC News episode of “This Week”:

Asked whether he would promise to have US troops home from Iraq by the end of his first term, Kerry replied: ”I will have significant, enormous reduction in the level of troops. We will probably have a continued presence of some kind, and certainly in the region. If the diplomacy that I believe can be put in place can work, I think we can significantly change the deployment of troops, not just there but elsewhere in the world — in the Korean Peninsula perhaps, in Europe perhaps.”

Now, I’ll grant that he prefaced his Korea and Europe remark by referring to diplomacy “put in place” in Iraq. So either he thinks that trouble in Iraq means we need to keep troop levels where they are in Korea and Europe, or he doesn’t. His words seem to indicate the former, which doesn’t make much sense to me considering the type of conflict we’re involved in in Iraq, but I’ll play along.

As Kerry pointed out in his recent remarks, the plan that Bush announced doesn’t begin until 2006. Does he think that diplomacy, any diplomacy, won’t be put in place and have a chance to settle things down in the next two years? And even if he does, does he think we’d just keep withdrawing troops if the situation on the ground in Iraq or other places indicated that doing so would be a bad idea?

This afternoon someone said that they weren’t concerned about Kerry’s so-called “flip-flops” because his ability to look at a Senate vote of his from six years ago and to alter his position indicated to her that he was open-minded and willing to change his priorities based upon new information. I said I wasn’t talking about six years ago. I told her I was talking about six months, six weeks, and six days ago. She didn’t really have an answer for that.

UPDATE: Photodude has a great post on this subject.