Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Wednesday called the situation in Iraq "one of the greatest failures of diplomacy and failures of judgment that I have seen in all the time that I've been in public life."

"Where are the people with the flowers, throwing them in the streets, welcoming the American liberators the way Dick Cheney said they would be?" Kerry said in an interview with American Urban Radio Networks (search).

"Since I fought in Vietnam, I have not seen an arrogance in our foreign policy like this."

Later, during a speech at Georgetown University, Kerry honored U.S. troops killed in Iraq in recent days. Fighting in Fallujah (search) and neighboring Ramadi (search), east of Baghdad, has killed 15 Marines since Monday.

"No matter what disagreements over how to approach the policy in Iraq - and we have some - we're all united as a nation in supporting our troops and ultimately in our goal of a stable Iraq," Kerry said.

During the radio interview, Kerry said it appeared that President Bush's June 30 deadline for transferring control of the country to the Iraqis was set "by the American election, not by the stability of Iraq."

He said Bush still has to explain who he would be handing power to in Iraq.

"Is he transferring it over to these people in the streets?" Kerry asked. "Is he transferring it over to Muqtada al-Sadr (search)? Is he transferring it over to Ayatollah Sistani (search). Is he transferring it over to this group of people who make up the so-called provisional council who have no authority?"

Kerry spoke as uprisings intensified in key Iraq cities and U.S. Marines fired a rocket and dropped a bomb on a mosque compound in Fallujah, killing as many as 40 people.