Category Archives: Iraq

Questioning the Judgment of Barack Obama

“In the absence of information unknown to either of them at the time, the fact that he didn’t agree with Senator Clinton doesn’t make him right, it makes him dangerously, recklessly presumptuous, and offers proof of his lack of preparedness and poor judgment.”

Friday, September 26, 2008

Good morning. This piece was originally published under the title “Reckless Endangerment” months ago, on Saturday, February 23, 2008. I wrote it in reaction to Senator Obama’s repeated claims that he was opposed to the war in Iraq from the very beginning. At some point, I took the time to read the speech to which he was referring and realized two things: That he was, in fact, against the war from the beginning, but that in saying so he was pandering to his audience and, most importantly, showing poor, I thought decidedly un-Presidential judgment in light of the circumstances of his opinion as defined by his own words in that same speech.

Given that tonight’s first Presidential debate is on the subject of foreign policy and national security, I thought it appropriate that I post this piece again for fresh eyes who may be visiting the WordFeeder now, but weren’t then when I was just getting started. It’s a longer piece, but interesting history that’s worth reading. Here it is. As always, your comments will be greatly appreciated.

Reckless Endangerment
Saturday, February 23, 2008

Enough already.

Senator Obama makes a big deal about how his early opposition to the war in Iraq is proof positive of his judgment and readiness to be President – in sharp contrast to Senator Clinton who, at the same time, voted to endorse the use of military force. Never missing an opportunity to remind us of this point, Senator Obama made the following statement during Thursday’s Democratic debate in Austin:

But [being Commander-in-Chief] also means using our military wisely. And on what I believe was the single most important foreign policy decision of this generation, whether or not to go to war in Iraq, I believe I showed the judgment of a commander-in-chief. And I think that Senator Clinton was wrong in her judgment on that.

Let’s overlook the excessively dramatic and technically meaningless reference to the “single most important foreign policy decision of this generation.” (Precisely what generation would that be, and are those people done making history?) Forget about the fact that he didn’t demonstrate his judgment back then by voting for anything. What he “showed” us was a speech of perhaps two typewritten pages. Let’s focus instead upon the meat of the decision to which the Senator is referring.

On October 2, 2002, now US Senator, then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama delivered a brief speech entitled “Against Going to War with Iraq.” The speech was presented at an anti-Iraq war rally in Chicago. It was short, and to the point. My apologies for including such an extensive quote, but I want both to do the Senator justice as well as make my point with his own words.

I don’t oppose all wars. …[What I oppose is a] dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.

He’s a bad buy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than the best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

As always, his oratory is impressive, but is it meaningful? It’s prophetic, to say the least, but was it wise, or lucky? Is it indicative of responsible judgment befitting a President of the United States, or does it just sound good?

Eight days later, on October 10, 2002, Senator Clinton stood on the floor of the US Senate and delivered her speech in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 45, “A Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.” It was a much longer speech which described the history of events which led to the resolution, and which explained the basis for her support. “Today,” she began, “we are asked whether to give the President of the United States authority to use force in Iraq should diplomatic efforts fail to dismantle Saddam Hussein’s chemical and biological weapons and his nuclear program.” As it turned out, this Senate resolution was tabled in favor of House Joint Resolution 114 (“Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq”). HJ Resolution 114 passed the House 296-133, and the Senate 77-23 on October 11, 2002, with Senator Clinton voting, “Yes.” This was the vote she refuses to admit was a mistake. I don’t think it was, nor do I believe that State Senator Obama, had he been US Senator Obama at the time, would have voted differently. To believe otherwise is to suggest that Senator Obama lacks the maturity and judgment to be President.

It’s all about the famously non-existent “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” The point is, they weren’t known to be non-existent at the time. Take another look the second paragraph in my excerpt from Senator Obama’s speech. In his own words, he acknowledges these weapons, believing, as did Senator Clinton, that they were real. The difference is that, just a few words later in the same speech, he asserts “But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States.” On that basis, all attempts to negotiate having failed, Senator Obama believed then and still argues that the use of military force to protect the United States against these weapons, via their direct use and/or dissemination among those elsewhere who would use them against us, is “dumb” and unwarranted.

How is it that State Senator Obama had better information about Iraq and other people threatening our country than the majority of US Senators and Representatives who supported HJ Resolution 114? Or was he just winging it? In the absence of information unknown to either of them at the time, the fact that he didn’t agree with Senator Clinton doesn’t make him right, it makes him dangerously, recklessly presumptuous, and offers proof of his lack of preparedness and poor judgment.

Don’t trust my opinion? Of course not, what do I know? Why should you? So ask yourself. To everyone of you who might read this, especially those of you considering voting for Senator Obama in the upcoming primaries in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, if you believed as did Senators Obama and Clinton that there were weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological and nuclear, in the hands of, or being developed by the likes of Saddam Hussein, how would you have voted? Do you really want to nominate a candidate for President who would have voted differently? A candidate who would have voted not to use military force as a last resort, but who would have chosen instead to hope for the best until Saddam Hussein “falls into the dustbin of history”?

Don’t like this line of questioning? Get used to it. I’m fairly certain it’s Chapter 1 in John McCain’s campaign strategy notebook, the one with the cover title: “How to Defeat Barack Obama in the fall.”

Did things turn out pretty much the way Senator Obama predicted? Absolutely, but what happened after HJ Resolution 114 was passed, the way our current President abused and botched the limited authority given to him by Congress, isn’t the issue. It’s hindsight.

Focus on the speeches by Senator Obama on October 2, 2002, and by Senator Clinton, just 8 days later. Forget about the excitement of the rallies, and the passion of your favorite candidate’s rhetoric. It’s just you. Ask yourself, given that both candidates, as well as everyone else, believed in the existence of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a despot which Senator Obama himself described as a “brutal,” “ruthless man,” how would you have voted? Do you really want to risk the country, the lives of your family and friends, not to mention your own, on a candidate for President who would have voted differently?


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Underestimating McCain

“Of the three people running for President, he’s the only one to have thought that far ahead.”

Saturday, March 8, 2008

He doesn’t speak particularly well.  He tells us we could be in Iraq forever.  He keeps referring to us as “My friends” which I find really annoying.  Foreign policy and national security, maybe, but what if anything does he know about the economy?  (And don’t think for a minute that a strong economy isn’t essential to our national security.)  Did I mention he’s old?  At 72, there’s a significantly higher probability that he’ll be a one term President which I think is a real problem for getting things done in Washington where he may well be viewed as a lame duck on day one.  (…not to be confused with our current President, “Daffy Duck.”)

So what in the world do the Democrats have to worry about?  John McCain may be right about Iraq – and about the larger issue of how to handle the threat of terrorism.

The question is not whether or not we should pull out of Iraq.  No.  The question we should be asking Senators Clinton (my personal favorite) and Obama is what do we do after we pull out?

What do we do if well armed and well funded insurgents threaten to overthrow the Iraqi government in our absence?

Even worse, suppose there’s no violence involved, but that, through its own internal political process, the leadership and composition of the Iraqi government changes, becomes fervently anti-American.  It is, after all, the right of any sovereign, democratic nation to make whatever foreign and domestic policy it deems to be in its own best interests – even if that includes forming anti-American alliances with the likes of Iran.

What if the Iraqi government finds itself unable or, more to the point, unwilling to deal with anti-American terrorist elements operating within its national borders?

What do we do if any or all of this happens, and the usual talks and sanctions fail?

Nothing? Something?  No kidding, what do we do?  You’re President of the United States.  What do you do?

You see, this isn’t a problem John McCain faces.  Senator McCain is already sure that one or all of the above are going to happen if we leave.  When you think about it, he’s the consummate executive.  He doesn’t care what’s happened up until now, not really.  He’s only concerned about what happens next, and the relative costs and benefits of pulling out versus staying put.

If we stay there, maintaining the peace as best we can, we stand to keep Iran at bay while taking advantage of our in-country position to attack terrorist elements.  (They may not have been there under Saddam Hussein, but they are now, and we need to deal with them.)  Staying buys the government and economy the time to stabilize, to mature to the point of self-sufficiency.  The downside is the loss of lives, ours and Iraqis, and that our very presence encourages anti-American sentiment in the region.

If we pull out, well then, for all intents and purposes, we’re not going back any time soon, and whatever is going to happen in Iraq and the region is going to happen without us.  Simply put, Senator McCain believes that the current costs of a continuing presence are less than the future costs if we walk.  It’s just that simple.

The only way you counter his point is to argue that none of the negative futures is going to happen.  And you don’t know that.  In fact, you don’t even believe it, do you?

Unfortunately for whoever runs against him, Senator McCain understands that it’s sometimes more practical to continue a foreign occupation, then it is to start a new one – and that this is one of those times.  I suspect a majority of American voters will agree with him – particularly if something happens to threaten our security between now and November.  Of the three people running for President, he’s the only one to have thought that far ahead.

Game, set, match, McCain.

Obama’s Slight of Hand

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.)

I’ve decided to hold my own “Obama for President” rally.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

This will be brief, and without parking problems.  All quoted materials are from Illinois State Senator Obama himself from the landmark (his notion, not mine) speech delivered before an anti-war rally on October 2, 2002.  For your benefit, I will listen carefully, and report readings on the WordFeeder “Applause-ometer” in response to the Senator’s comments.  The excerpts are extensive to be fair to the Senator, and so that you don’t think I’m editing his remarks to make my point.

“Good afternoon.  Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances.”

Well, that’s a relief.  Heaven forbid we should elect a President who is opposed to war under all circumstances.  Note to Senator Obama:  This notion of “war,” as opposed to the “use of military force,” needs definition.  In your head, as President, are we really “at war” whenever we use our military?  Maybe we’ll work on that together in another article.

Polite applause, but then he’s just warming up, and it was probably cold that October day in Chicago.  Hard to hear clapping from people wearing gloves.  Back to the speech.

“I don’t oppose all wars.”

Okay, we get it.  You’re in favor of some wars, not others.

“After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this Administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.”

And yet, he made no attempt to enlist?  Much more, much louder applause.  People in the audience are taking off their gloves.  He’s cashing the “we’re still pissed off about the attack on September 11” chip.  Trite, but effective.

“[For those of you who don’t remember me having said this 30 seconds ago,] I don’t oppose all wars.  And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or patriotism.  What I am opposed to is a dumb war.  What I am opposed to is a rash war.  What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.”

Applause continues to build as the anti-war audience gets into his speech, and is becoming desperate to keep warm.

I particularly like the reference to “arm-chair, weekend warriors,” but thought, for a moment, that he might be talking about himself.  Besides, if you’re going to offer advice from the sidelines, which is the right and duty of all Americans, might as well be comfortable.

“That’s what I’m opposed to.  A dumb war.  A rash war.  A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.”

Well said!  Wild applause, but now he calms the crowd, reserving their energy for the big finish, preparing them for the harsh reality of the current situation, as we all believed it to be at the time.  What skill.  What talent.  To borrow from Jerry Seinfeld, he is the master of his domain.

“Now let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein.  He is a brutal man.  A ruthless man.  A man who butchers his own people…”

Hold on, I think I’m going to be sick.

“…to secure his own power.  He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.”

The audience is quiet with shock and awe.

“Coveted” nuclear capacity.  Wow.  Can that man turn a phrase, or what?  I can almost see Saddam drooling over the potential for nuclear weapons, like the rest of us (men) pretending to ignore the cover of the SI swimsuit issue in the checkout line at the grocery store.

“He’s a bad guy.  The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.”

The crowd’s confused.  Up to this point, they could have been listing to a speech by John McCain.  They agree, but it is, after all, an anti-war rally.  They’re damned if they applaud, damned if they don’t.

“But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, …”

Wait a minute.  How does he know that?  No, he doesn’t know that.  This is his opinion.

“…that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.”

Individual members of the crowd shout out their approval.  What a relief.  This Saddam person is nothing to worry about.  History will take care of him.

This is change alright.  The plan seems to be to wait for Saddam to evaporate, with State Senator Obama’s personal assurance that we will all be okay in the meantime, that Saddam will not use his weapons against us, or share them with others who would.

“I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.  I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than the best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.”

There is strangely little applause, in deference to Senator Obama, mostly because the crowd is frozen and has lost the ability to move their arms.  Frostbite is becoming a real potential, but fortunately everyone in the audience has medical insurance.

Is this guy (State Senator Obama) psychic?  In retrospect, he was right on the money, but was it the right argument to have made at the time?  Was it gifted foresight, superior judgment, or just a re-hash of the then justified opposition to the war in Viet Nam 40 years ago, without rhyme or good reason?

“I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”

And the crowd goes wild?

Hey, com’on.  He just acknowledged the brutality of a ruthless anti-American dictator who has weapons of mass destruction, which everyone believed at the time, but has reassured us that we’ll all be okay if we just wait for the “dustbin of history” to do its job, that the use of military force, as a last resort, to protect these United States is “dumb.”

This is your future President of the United States making the “I opposed this war from the start” speech he keeps talking about.  Why aren’t you on your feet, wild with applause and cheering?

“I opposed this war from the start.”

A Criticism of the Clinton Campaign

February 27, 2008

Today’s quote is offered, in the strongest possible terms, as a criticism of the Hillary Clinton campaign.  I’ll be brief.  Let me refer you to a more explicit piece I wrote a few days ago called “Reckless Endangerment.”

The title quote, in case you didn’t recognize it, is by Barack Obama, said innumerable times.

From the outset of his campaign, Senator Obama has had Senator Clinton on the defensive regarding her vote to permit the use of military force in Iraq.  That vote, which she explained in her speech on October 10, 2002, on the floor of the Senate, was to authorize the use of military force, as a last resort, to protect the United States against what were then believed to be chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons in the possession of, and/or under development by Saddam Hussein.  In retrospect, that vote, which was approved by three quarters of the House and Senate, is regrettable – but that’s hindsight.  It was the right thing to have done at the time

Senator Obama did not vote for that resolution because he was an Illinois State Senator.  What he did instead was deliver a short speech 8 days earlier in front of an anti-war rally in Chicago.   He acknowledged the threat of Saddam Hussein and the existence of weapons of mass destruction, and yet, in the same short speech, called the use of military force, as a last resort, in defense of the United States, “dumb.”  His word.  His opposition to the use of military force – There was no “war” at the time. – is not something about which he should be boasting.  It was then, and still is  a sign of immaturity, of naiveté and irresponsibility – proof positive of his lack of readiness to be President.  The question isn’t whether or not Senator Obama “opposed this war from the start,” it’s whether or not opposing the war from the start was the right thing to have done.

Not interested in my opinion?  Fine.  Read his speech, and then ask yourself, if you were President and believed that a “brutal” and “ruthless” dictator had “developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity,” would you have considered the use of military force, as a last resort, to defend your country against these weapons “dumb”?

In his speech, Senator Obama says “I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States.”  Excuse me, but he had no way of knowing that.  It was his opinion, not an assertion of fact that he was offering.  So just how certain was he, or could he have been given what was known at the time?  It’s one thing to believe in something as a matter of principle, or to pander to a crowd.  The man does love his rallies.  To be President, and actually responsible for the lives of your countrymen and women, is another thing altogether.

Senator Clinton, if you or any of your campaign staff are listening, instead of defending your position or apologizing for it, you need to stand by it and challenge Senator Obama’s on the basis of his own words delivered in that October 2, 2002 speech.  Ask his supporters what they would do as President, if they believed, as he did, that the threats against our country were real.  Make it clear that his mantra, “I opposed this war from the start,” is the best argument yet, certainly on the subject of national security, in favor of your candidacy.

Either you make this point now, or I assure you John McCain will make it later.

Reckless Endangerment

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Enough already.

Senator Obama makes a big deal about how his early opposition to the war in Iraq is proof positive of his judgment and readiness to be President – in sharp contrast to Senator Clinton who, at the same time, voted to endorse the use of military force.  Never missing an opportunity to remind us of this point, Senator Obama made the following statement during Thursday’s Democratic debate in Austin:

But [being Commander-in-Chief] also means using our military wisely.  And on what I believe was the single most important foreign policy decision of this generation, whether or not to go to war in Iraq, I believe I showed the judgment of a commander-in-chief.  And I think that Senator Clinton was wrong in her judgment on that.

Let’s overlook the excessively dramatic and technically meaningless reference to the “single most important foreign policy decision of this generation.”  (Precisely what generation would that be, and are those people done making history?)  Forget about the fact that he didn’t demonstrate his judgment back then by voting for anything.  What he “showed” us was a speech of perhaps two typewritten pages.  Let’s focus instead upon the meat of the decision to which the Senator is referring.

On October 2, 2002, now US Senator, then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama delivered a brief speech entitled “Against Going to War with Iraq.”  The speech was presented at an anti-Iraq war rally in Chicago.  It was short, and to the point.  My apologies for including such an extensive quote, but I want both to do the Senator justice as well as make my point with his own words.

I don’t oppose all wars.  …[What I oppose is a] dumb war.  A rash war.  A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein.  He is a brutal man.  A ruthless man.  A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power.  He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.

He’s a bad buy.  The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.  I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than the best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars.  I’m opposed to dumb wars.

As always, his oratory is impressive, but is it meaningful?  It’s prophetic, to say the least, but was it wise, or lucky?  Is it indicative of responsible judgment befitting a President of the United States, or does it just sound good?

Eight days later, on October 10, 2002, Senator Clinton stood on the floor of the US Senate and delivered her speech in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 45, “A Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.”  It was a much longer speech which described the history of events which led to the resolution, and which explained the basis for her support.  “Today,” she began, “we are asked whether to give the President of the United States authority to use force in Iraq should diplomatic efforts fail to dismantle Saddam Hussein’s chemical and biological weapons and his nuclear program.”  As it turned out, this Senate resolution was tabled in favor of House Joint Resolution 114 (“Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq”).  HJ Resolution 114 passed the House 296-133, and the Senate 77-23 on October 11, 2002, with Senator Clinton voting, “Yes.”  This was the vote she refuses to admit was a mistake.  I don’t think it was, nor do I believe that State Senator Obama, had he been US Senator Obama at the time, would have voted differently.  To believe otherwise is to suggest that Senator Obama lacks the maturity and judgment to be President.

It’s all about the famously non-existent “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”  The point is, they weren’t known to be non-existent at the time.  Take another look the second paragraph in my excerpt from Senator Obama’s speech.  In his own words, he acknowledges these weapons, believing, as did Senator Clinton, that they were real.  The difference is that, just a few words later in the same speech, he asserts “But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States.”  On that basis, all attempts to negotiate having failed, Senator Obama believed then and still argues that the use of military force to protect the United States against these weapons, via their direct use and/or dissemination among those elsewhere who would use them against us, is “dumb” and unwarranted.

How is it that State Senator Obama had better information about Iraq and other people threatening our country than the majority of US Senators and Representatives who supported HJ Resolution 114?  Or was he just winging it?  In the absence of information unknown to either of them at the time, the fact that he didn’t agree with Senator Clinton doesn’t make him right, it makes him dangerously, recklessly presumptuous, and offers proof of his lack of preparedness and poor judgment.

Don’t trust my opinion?  Of course not, what do I know?  Why should you?  So ask yourself.  To everyone of you who might read this, especially those of you considering voting for Senator Obama in the upcoming primaries in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, if you believed as did Senators Obama and Clinton that there were weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological and nuclear, in the hands of, or being developed by the likes of Saddam Hussein, how would you have voted?  Do you really want to nominate a candidate for President who would have voted differently?  A candidate who would have voted not to use military force as a last resort, but who would have chosen instead to hope for the best until Saddam Hussein “falls into the dustbin of history”?

Don’t like this line of questioning?  Get used to it.  I’m fairly certain it’s Chapter 1 in John McCain’s campaign strategy notebook, the one with the cover title:  “How to Defeat Barack Obama in the Fall.”

Did things turn out pretty much the way Senator Obama predicted?  Absolutely, but what happened after HJ Resolution 114 was passed, the way our current President abused and botched the limited authority given to him by Congress, isn’t the issue.  It’s hindsight.

Focus on the speeches by Senator Obama on October 2, 2002, and by Senator Clinton, just 8 days later.  Forget about the excitement of the rallies, and the passion of your favorite candidate’s rhetoric.  It’s just you.  Ask yourself, given that both candidates, as well as everyone else, believed in the existence of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a despot which Senator Obama himself described as a “brutal,” “ruthless man,” how would you have voted?  Do you really want to risk the country, the lives of your family and friends, not to mention your own, on a candidate for President who would have voted differently?

Whoops

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A mistake, according to Dictionary.com, is “an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.”

In retrospect, when Senator Clinton cast her famous vote to allow the use of military force in Iraq, she made a mistake.  The question is, was it a mistake based on poor judgment as Senator Obama would have us believe, or insufficient information, which is her counter argument?  Should she, or any of the others who voted for the resolution, have anticipated exactly what President Bush and his cohorts intended to do with that authority – or that the Administration had misunderstood, to put it politely, the extent of the threat to our national security?  I don’t know.  Certainly the first kind of mistake is more relevant for the prospect of a Hillary Clinton Presidency than the latter.

What I do know is that nothing is as simple as Senator Obama would like us to believe.  I don’t know what Senator Clinton was thinking, but I do know that Senator Obama had the luxury of offering simple platitudes on foreign policy from his vantage point on the sidelines.  (Senator Obama was an Illinois state Senator on October 10, 2002 when Senator Clinton delivered her speech on the floor of the US Senate to explain her support of the President’s request.)  Is he the psychic candidate?  Did he really foresee where this Iraq mess would end up, or did he just get lucky?  Under what circumstances would he expect the same vote from Senator Clinton where he, Barack Obama, the one in The White House asking for Senate approval?

Senator Clinton’s October speech began with the words, “Today we are asked whether to give the President of the United States authority to use force in Iraq should diplomatic efforts fail to dismantle Saddam Hussein’s chemical and biological weapons and his nuclear program.”  At the time, lots of people – perhaps state Senator Obama, as well – were convinced that the threat of weapons of mass destruction was real.  Just how big a mistake was she making?  Why shouldn’t she have believed President Bush?

I understand that Senator Obama believes in negotiating and compromise as a preferable alternative to military action.  Who doesn’t?  In fact, the resolution authorized force only if negotiations were to fail.  Wouldn’t Senator Obama have made basically the same speech had he been in Senator Clinton’s position?

Barack Obama likes to question Hillary Clinton’s judgment.  The question for Maryland Democrats on Tuesday is do they want to nominate an armchair, Monday morning quarterback, or the real deal?