Thursday, March 06, 2008

Was Hillary in favor of the war in Iraq?

In Barack's latest email, one of his minions writes that Barack is "someone who opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning", implying that Hillary was not opposed to "the war in Iraq from the beginning." In fact, the congressional record makes quite clear that she was in fact opposed to war right there at the beginning. To quote her from the congressional record:

Even though the resolution before the Senate is not as strong as I would like in requiring the diplomatic route first and placing highest priority on a simple, clear requirement for unlimited inspections, I take the President at his word that he will try hard to pass a United Nations resolution and seek to avoid war, if possible.

Those are not the words of someone in favor of a war.

You can read through her full words spoken on the floor of the U.S. Senate and you will not find anything to suggest that she was actually in favor of "war in Iraq." She was one of a group of Democrats (and Republications) who sincerely believed that when pushed to the brink, Saddam Hussein would blink and cave and allow the inspectors back in.

If there was any doubt as to what she was in favor of, she tells us:

I urge the President to spare no effort to secure a clear, unambiguous demand by the United Nations for unlimited inspections.

Yes, she was well aware that war in Iraq was a strong possibility, but she in no way suggests that she viewed it as necessarily inevitable or even necessarily the likely outcome:

A vote for it is not a vote to rush to war; it is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of our President. And we say to him: Use these powers wisely and as a last resort. And it is a vote that says clearly to Saddam Hussein: This is your last chance; disarm or be disarmed.

We all know how history played out after that joint congressional resolution was passed, but frankly it is revisionist to suggest that all who voted for the resolution were doing so with the intention of "war in Iraq" or that they lacked an opposition to "war in Iraq."

As a side note, Barack was not even there in the U.S. Senate to oppose "war in Iraq." He was still a minor-league politician in the Illinois State Senate back in 2002. So, his so-called opposition is hardly relevant to the situation back in 2002 in the U.S. Senate. Senator Durbin from Illinois was in the Senate and did oppose the authorization "for use of United States Armed Forces."

The resolution in fact had two main sections, the first urging more intensive diplomatic efforts, and the second authorizing military action only if diplomacy failed, as represented in the paragraph requiring "Presidential Determination" In fact, there is no mention of invasion, occupation, installing a new government, etc. Read for yourself:

Whereas it is in the national security of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This joint resolution may be cited as the `Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq'.


    The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to--

      (1) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and

      (2) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.


    (a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to--

      (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

      (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.

    (b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION- In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon there after as may be feasible, but not later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that--

      (1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

      (2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

    (c) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

      (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

      (2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.


    (a) The President shall, at least once every 60 days, submit to the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 2 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required after such actions are completed, including those actions described in section 7 of Public Law 105-338 (the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998).

    (b) To the extent that the submission of any report described in subsection (a) coincides with the submission of any other report on matters relevant to this joint resolution otherwise required to be submitted to Congress pursuant to the reporting requirements of Public Law 93-148 (the War Powers Resolution), all such reports may be submitted as a single consolidated report to the Congress.

    (c) To the extent that this information required by section 3 of Public Law 102-1 is included in the report required by this section, such report shall be considered as meeting the requirements of section 3 of Public Law 102-1.

As you can read there, the resolution is not a "go directly to war" authorization, but required the President to certify first that diplomatic efforts had failed. Senator Clinton and other moderates were at least hopeful that enhanced diplomatic efforts would in fact succeed and avert war. War was supposed to be a threat to strongly encourage Saddam Hussein to stop resisting inspections and not the intended outcome -- at least for the moderates who voted for the resolution.

In short, there is no question that according to the congressional record Hillary was opposed to "war in Iraq." Yes, she voted for the "AUTHORIZATION OF THE USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES AGAINST IRAQ", but as we can see from SEC. 4 and her words, she was pushing for diplomacy, strengthened inspections, and military force only "as a last resort."

And of course the backdrop for all of this was an "intelligence estimate" that even the technical experts supported.

The other backdrop was that some viewed that the Neo-conservatives and the rest of the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby were intent on pushing President Bush to "liberate" Iraq no matter what Congress did or didn't say. In that sense, at least the moderates were on record for strongly encouraging enhanced diplomacy as the main thrust. Sure, ultimately the moderates failed, but those who voted against the resolution were not any more successful at avoiding war.

Barack's continued promotion of the idea that Hillary did not oppose "war in Iraq" is just the kind of political cheap shot that he claims to be above. Hmmm... what does that say about his own character?

-- Jack Krupansky


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