In a New York Times commentary in September and a speech at an Iowa Democratic Party fund-raising dinner in October, Kerry said that although the United States could not allow Iraq to maintain weapons of mass destruction, Bush should work through the U.N. to restart the inspection process before considering invasion.
"You don't go to war as a matter of first resort; you go to war as a matter of last resort," he said to loud applause. Six days later, Kerry voted for the Senate resolution authorizing use of force. In his floor statement, Kerry again qualified his view; he said that while the United States should not give the U.N. "veto power" over American actions, neither was he committing himself to support any unilateral move against Iraq that Bush might propose.
Kerry next made a splash with a Jan. 23 speech in which he urged Bush to delay any possible attack against Iraq, both to give inspections more time and to "show the world some appropriate patience in building a genuine [international] coalition."
Then, just before Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday, Kerry told a small group of reporters he believed the report from chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix the day before had shown Iraq to be in "material breach" of the U.N. resolution demanding disarmament -- thus triggering the legal threshold for war. And while Kerry again called on Bush to intensify his efforts to attract more international support, he said he could support a U.N. resolution authorizing an invasion if Iraq does not disarm within 30 days.