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On the sad occasion of the fifth anniversary of the commencement of the Iraq war, I am posting an updated version of a diary of mine from a fortnight ago.

To begin with, most of us know that Obama opposed the invasion of Iraq and gave a stellar and what proved to be a prescient speech against it. But, not many seem to know that Obama continued resisting the invasion all the way through March 2003 while his opponents in the presidential race, John McCain and Hillary Clinton, did otherwise.

That's a key distinction between the candidates to keep in mind and tell others about.

MAR 2003: Obama Said It's Not Too Late To Stop The War. "State Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago) told the crowd, `It's not too late' to stop the war." (Chicago Sun- Times, 3/17/03)
Link

MAR 2003: Obama Challenged Other Candidates To Take A Position On Iraq War. The AP wrote, "Barack Obama is criticizing the idea of war against Iraq and challenging his Democratic opponents in the U.S. Senate race to take a stand on the question...Issuing the challenge at a weekend speech in Champaign, Obama said he does not oppose war if it's necessary. But he believes Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses no immediate threat and that, with Iraq's economy in shambles, he can be "contained" until internal pressures force him out...Obama said candidates wishing to unseat Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald in 2004 should speak up now as the Bush administration moves closer to using military force against Iraq. `What's tempting is to take the path of least resistance and keep quiet on the issue, knowing that maybe in two or three or six months, at least the fighting will be over and you can see how it plays itself out,' said Obama, a state senator from Chicago." (AP, 3/3/2003)

Contrary to Rumors, Obama Has Been Consistent on Iraq, by Hope 4 Obama - Jan 15th, 2008

To follow is an updated version of my earlier diary.

~~~

There were troubling aspects to this 90-page document. While slanted toward the conclusion that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction stored or produced at 550 sites, it contained vigorous dissents on key parts of the information, especially by the departments of State and Energy. Particular skepticism was raised about aluminum tubes that were offered as evidence Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. As to Hussein's will to use whatever weapons he might have, the estimate indicated he would not do so unless he was first attacked.

That's what Senator Bob Graham, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2002 wrote in his Washington Post OpEd regarding the classified 90-page National Intelligence Estimate on Saddam's Iraq that was presented as the evidential basis for a war with Iraq:

What I Knew Before the Invasion
By Bob Graham
Sunday, November 20, 2005

Furthermore,

Sen. Bob Graham begged his colleagues on the floor of the Senate to read the 90 page classified NIE on WMD (as opposed to the 25 pages of declassified materials).

"Friends, I encourage you to read the classified intelligence reports which are much sharper than what is available in declassified form," Sen. Graham reports stating on the floor of the Senate in October 2002.
Link

Despite being implored by the chair of the intelligence committee, Hillary Clinton and John McCain did not read the 90-page NIE before committing US troops by voting to authorize a preemptive war that has killed and maimed thousands of US troops and Iraqi civilians:

Casualties in Iraq
The Human Cost of Occupation

American Military Casualties in Iraq:

Date				    Total	In Combat
American Deaths 	
Since war began (3/19/03):	    3990	3263
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03)
				    3851	3155
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3529	2957
Since Handover (6/29/04):	    3131	2630
Since Election (1/31/05):	    2553	2367

American Wounded		    Official	Estimated
Total Wounded:			    29395	23000-100000

Iraqi Casualties:

<!-- <img src="http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/7751/iraqdeathsjd7.jpg">Iraq Casualties http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/... -->

The war has made America less safe and has compromised the reputation and the standing of the United States around the world.

It has also cost the tax payer and the economy trillions of dollars and has crippled the economy in many ways. It has scuttled resources that could have been used to address critical needs: the upwards of $500 billion direct expenditures on the war could have been used to provide healthcare for many of the tens of millions without coverage, or could have been used to jump start the economy in various ways, including investing in infrastructure and towards creating millions of green collar jobs.

John McCain and Hillary Clinton were wrong to enable the war by giving Bush a blank check war authorization. They should be held accountable for their vote.

Furthermore, not reading the NIE before committing the troops (as both John McCain and Hillary Clinton did) is a clear-cut dereliction of duty which, it seems logical to conclude, should disqualify them from assuming the mantle of the Commander-in-Chief.

Here is a closer look at the war voting record of HRC and McCain. They:

  1. did not read the 90-page NIE
  1. voted against the Levin amendment which was a multilateral approach to the situation in Iraq (see this detailed explanation by Sen. Levin regarding his amendment)
  1. voted for Lieberman's blank check war resolution IWR/AUMF giving Bush the authorization to wage the war
  1. voted against protecting civilian lives from unexploded cluster munitions. See also here.
  1. voted for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment on Iran which does not explicitly rule out a war authorization

These eight videos present the pro-war actions and stances of Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

Clinton Video links:

  1. HRC's IWR floor speech, 2002
  1. HRC on Iraq in March 2003
  1. On HRC and her Kyl-Lieberman vote

McCain video links:

  1. John McCain Says More Wars
  1. McCain: 'Make it 100!
  1. McCain: I Would Have Started Iraq War Regardless Of WMD
  1. McCain laughs, Sings Bomb Iran
  1. McCain on Charlie Rose: September 24, 2002

Hillary Clinton gives the excuse that she voted only to get the UN inspectors back in to Iraq. That excuse does not hold scrutiny because when the inspectors did get in and were in fact reporting that no WMD could be found, she didn't tell Bush not to invade. Instead, she was cheerleading Bush towards an invasion:

The UN inspectors said:

March 7, 2003
Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA: After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq.

Dr. Hans Blix, Chief U.N. weapons inspector: How much time would it take to resolve the key remaining disarmament tasks? While cooperation can -- cooperation can and is to be immediate, disarmament, and at any rate verification of it, cannot be instant. Even with a proactive Iraqi attitude induced by continued outside pressure, it will still take some time to verify sites and items, analyze documents, interview relevant persons and draw conclusions. It will not take years, nor weeks, but months.

UN Inspector Videos. March 2003.


  1. ElBaradei's U.N. presentation Part 1
  1. ElBaradei's U.N. presentation Part 2
  1. Blix's U.N. presentation Part 1
  1. Blix's U.N. presentation Part 2

(H/T lovingj)

Hillary Clinton's press release:

March 17, 2003

Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on the President's Remarks to the Nation

When the President of the United States addresses the nation about possible military action, it is a solemn occasion for every American. Tonight, the President gave Saddam Hussein one last chance to avoid war, and the world hopes that Saddam Hussein will finally hear this ultimatum, understand the severity of those words, and act accordingly. While we wish there were more international support for the effort to disarm Saddam Hussein, at this critical juncture it is important for all of us to come together in support of our troops and pray that, if war does occur, this mission is accomplished swiftly and decisively with minimum loss of life and civilian casualties. I have had the honor of meeting and speaking with many of our brave men and women in uniform. They are the best trained, equipped, and motivated military in the entire world, we support them fully and we are grateful for their courageous service in these difficult times.

The Bush ultimatum that Clinton was refering to was this:

Bush: 'Leave Iraq within 48 hours'

Monday, March 17, 2003

All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing.

Clearly, Hillary Clinton was siding with Bush and thus cheerleading the war on March 17, 2003, despite the UN inspector reports from March 7, 2003. That establishes her excuse about the UN inspections as invalid.

As for John McCain, he has the audacity to say --despite all that we have seen-- that he would've voted to authorize the war even knowing that no WMD would be found. McCain's 2003 statements on the war can be found here: "John McCain on the War in Iraq".

I would not call Barack Obama a pacifist. His philosophy is that it is important to distinguish between necessary and unnecessary wars and that we should not employ our military might recklessly. He opposed the Iraq war on the basis of the fact that Saddam Hussein was not an imminent threat.

I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of 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.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income – to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

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.

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 guy. 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 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.

-- Barack Obama, October 2002.

In the days leading up to the war in March 2003, Obama continued his opposition to the invasion as posted above:

MAR 2003: Obama Challenged Other Candidates To Take A Position On Iraq War. The AP wrote, "Barack Obama is criticizing the idea of war against Iraq and challenging his Democratic opponents in the U.S. Senate race to take a stand on the question...Issuing the challenge at a weekend speech in Champaign, Obama said he does not oppose war if it's necessary. But he believes Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses no immediate threat and that, with Iraq's economy in shambles, he can be "contained" until internal pressures force him out...Obama said candidates wishing to unseat Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald in 2004 should speak up now as the Bush administration moves closer to using military force against Iraq. `What's tempting is to take the path of least resistance and keep quiet on the issue, knowing that maybe in two or three or six months, at least the fighting will be over and you can see how it plays itself out,' said Obama, a state senator from Chicago." (AP, 3/3/2003)

MAR 2003: Obama Said It's Not Too Late To Stop The War. "State Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago) told the crowd, `It's not too late' to stop the war." (Chicago Sun- Times, 3/17/03)
Link

Clearly, Obama strongly opposed the invasion of Iraq. This video contains clips about Obama's consistent opposition to the invasion of Iraq:

Video URL: Obama on Iraq

Obama also recognizes that once we went in and wrecked Iraq's capacity to fend for itself, we need to leave Iraq more responsibly than we were in invading Iraq, in the interests of ensuring a sustainable Iraq, the stability of the region and not allowing Al Queda that has settled into Iraq following the invasion (and has setup a base of operations in Iraq as he surmised it would in his October 2002 speech) to succeed. Here are Obama's thoughts on and his plan to ending the war in Iraq responsibly.

Barack Obama's Plan for Iraq
Plan pdf version

Judgment You Can Trust

As a candidate for the United States Senate in 2002, Obama put his political career on the line to oppose going to war in Iraq, and warned of "an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences." Obama has been a consistent, principled and vocal opponent of the war in Iraq.

   * In 2003 and 2004, he spoke out against the war on the campaign trail;
   * In 2005, he called for a phased withdrawal of our troops;
   * In 2006, he called for a timetable to remove our troops, a political solution within Iraq, and aggressive diplomacy with all of Iraq's neighbors;
   * In January 2007, he introduced legislation in the Senate to remove all of our combat troops from Iraq by March 2008.
   * In September 2007, he laid out a detailed plan for how he will end the war as president.

Bringing Our Troops Home

Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.

Press Iraq's Leaders to Reconcile

The best way to press Iraq's leaders to take responsibility for their future is to make it clear that we are leaving. As we remove our troops, Obama will engage representatives from all levels of Iraqi society – in and out of government – to seek a new accord on Iraq's Constitution and governance. The United Nations will play a central role in this convention, which should not adjourn until a new national accord is reached addressing tough questions like federalism and oil revenue-sharing.

Regional Diplomacy

Obama will launch the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent American history to reach a new compact on the stability of Iraq and the Middle East. This effort will include all of Iraq's neighbors — including Iran and Syria. This compact will aim to secure Iraq's borders; keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq; isolate al Qaeda; support reconciliation among Iraq's sectarian groups; and provide financial support for Iraq's reconstruction.

Humanitarian Initiative

Obama believes that America has a moral and security responsibility to confront Iraq's humanitarian crisis — two million Iraqis are refugees; two million more are displaced inside their own country. Obama will form an international working group to address this crisis. He will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find a safe-haven.

Sen. Graham's recent remarks are worth noting:

Bob Graham: Iraq War Vote Was Commander In Chief Test

March 14, 2008 10:13 AM

"I don't believe there is a school you can go to, to train to be commander-in-chief," Graham said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "I think the qualities you are looking for would include, judgment, the willingness to surround yourself with strong people, listening to a diversity of ideas and then forming a conclusion. I think curiosity is important.

"If there had been a little more curiosity in the fall 2002 -- if the questions had been asked -- (it) would have raised a lot of suspicions," he said, referencing the Iraq war authorization vote. "I think you have to look to see whether those qualities exist. And if they do, you have reason to believe that the person who has those qualities would become an effective commander-in-chief."

Obama spoke about Iraq today in a speech in Fayetteville, NC. Rawstory has the transcript:

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
The World Beyond Iraq

Fayetteville, NC

March 19, 2008

As Prepared for Delivery

Here is youtube video footage of his speech:

Video URL: Obama Discusses Iraq and McCain in Fayetteville, NC

Among the three current 2008 presidential candidates, Barack Obama is our best choice on war and peace matters. If you agree, please help disseminate the information in this post by forwarding the URL for this post (or the tiny URL: tinyurl.com/2l3y4g which redirects to this post) to as many people and media personalities as possible. You are free to use the material of this post as you see fit. If you'd like to post the videos and material from this on your site or blog, the html code for this post is available at this link.

If you'd like to help elect Barack Obama as our next President, please sign-up at Obama campaign's Action Center and get others to do so as well. Thanks!

Originally posted to NeuvoLiberal on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 01:33 PM PDT.

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