Avoiding the question: Was opposing the use of military force in Iraq the correct decision to have made at the time?
Friday, March 7, 2008
Those of us who live in the real world don’t have the luxury of making decisions retrospectively. We use the best information available to us, choose the most responsible course of action, and hope for the best.
Who among us hasn’t made a well informed, righteous decision that turned out to be wrong? It is, in other words, entirely possible to do something perfectly intelligent, to make the right decision, only to regret it later.
The trick, and I mean that literally, is to do just the opposite, to make a bad decision which turns out to have been the right thing to do – and then take credit for it, as if you actually knew what you were doing in the first place.
When State Senator Barack Obama made his speech on October 2, 2002, in front of that anti-war rally in Chicago – the speech which is the basis of his claim, “I opposed this war from the start.” – he acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was a “brutal” and “ruthless” dictator who had biological and chemical weapons, and “coveted” nuclear capabilities. He then blithely offered his opinion, as if it was a point of fact, that we were in no immediate danger, and that the use of military force to protect the United States from these threats was, in his word, “dumb.”
Turns out, he was right, that by going into Iraq we would create more mess than we resolved. Given that the WMD proved to be non-existent, the use of military force to protect us from those weapons was obviously inappropriate. The problem is, he had no way of knowing it at the time, no way of knowing that the threat of these weapons of mass destruction wasn’t real. Quite to contrary, he acknowledged the threat, but then chose to ignore it. The wisdom of his statements that day in October, is hindsight. It’s retrospective which takes his opposition to the war out of context. He is, in other words, cheating, denying the reality of the original situation to make himself appear wise, when in fact he was lucky, at best. Think about it. He actually believed the weapons of mass destruction were real, and yet was willing to do nothing about it, other than make a largely ordinary, almost academic point about the consequences of any military police action, and wait for “the dustbin of history” to resolve the problem for us.
There’s nothing “dumb” about the old adage, “better safe, than sorry.” That’s how it got to be an old adage. Far from being insightful, the Senator’s comments were proof positive of his immaturity, naiveté, and lack of preparedness to be President.
You have to ask yourself, if not to abate the acknowledged threat of biological, chemical and potentially nuclear weapons in the hands of an anti-American despot – all negotiations and other non-violent means having failed – under what circumstances would he consider the use of our military to be warranted? If the weapons had been as real as he believed them to have been, did he understand the risks he and the rest of us would be taking? I’d almost prefer to believe he was just pandering to the crowd that day, rather than that he really wouldn’t have done anything as a matter of choice.
There’s another old adage that seems equally appropriate: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool…” You know the rest. The question is, can the Senator keep it up through the Democratic convention in August, and the general election in November? (Saying attributed to President Abraham Lincoln.)