John Kerry has drawn a line in the sands of Iraq and has forcefully and specifically laid down a marker for the administration, the Democratic party, and the nation.
No other public official to date has had the courage to face the truth, that Iraqi democracy is now, finally, up to the Iraqi people, not the United States.
The Bush administration must now be required to respond to the Kerry time-table, to refute it with more than slogans and rhetoric, and to tell the American people, once and for all, when and how we intend to extricate ourselves from this Vietnam-in-the-desert.
Other Democratic leaders must now be heard on the question of whether they agree or disagree, in specific terms, with the Kerry initiative.
By revealing the brutal truth, that we cannot impose liberal democracy on a people that will not achieve and protect it for themselves, Senator Kerry has gone a very long way toward filling the vacuum in Democratic party leadership felt by too many Americans.
For those of us who never accepted the Bush administration's justification of the war, and did not accept the default argument that we were in the evil-dictator-removal business, Senator Kerry has offered a voice of opposition and a carefully constructed plan for returning the responsibility for Iraqi governance to the Iraqi people and their political leaders.
This is a very welcome development for American foreign policy and prestige in the new world of the 21st century.