Tuesday, March 12, 2013

No, Not "Everyone" Fell For The Bush-Cheney Call To War In Iraq

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National Memo kicked off the week reminding us that not everyone fell for the Bush-Cheney war propaganda and not everyone went along with their rush to war in Iraq. There were, in fact, millions of people who protested and, in terms of insiders, National Memo spotlights people who criticized the invasion risking their careers and reputations to do so. They focus on Tyler Drumheller, head of CIA operations in Europe, the Knight Ridder Newspaper chain, Al Gore, blue chip journalists Dana Milbank, Walter Pincus, and Maureen Dowd, Jimmy Carter, Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, Carne Ross, the U.K.'s Iraq expert at the UN Security Council, and then an unknown Illinois state Senator from Chicago, Barack Obama. His speech on October 2, 2002.
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. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don't oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain. I don't oppose all wars.

After Sept. 11, 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 I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. 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 armchair, 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 U.S. 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-Qaida. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with bin Laden and al-Qaida, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings. You want a fight, President Bush?

Let's fight to make sure that the U.N. inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe. You want a fight, President Bush?

Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair. The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not-- we will not-- travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.
And they also highlighted one Member of Congress, a conservative Tennessee Republican in fact, Jimmy Duncan, one of only six House Republicans to vote against authorizing the war in 2002. In all 133 Members of the House voted against Bush's rush to war in Iraq, Duncan and 5 other Republicans plus 126 Democrats. The shameful resolution to Authorize the Use of Force Against Iraq passed 296-133. Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi split with Minority Leader Gephardt, who supported the war and persuaded 81 Democrats to give Bush the margin he needed to start it. That, in effect, ended Gephardt's political career. He had dreams of the Speakership and the presidency but today he's a sleazy, tawdry K Street lobbyist today with an ugly reputation as one of the assholes responsible for some much death and destruction in our time. Here's how Duncan remembers it from the GOP perspective:
I was called down to the White House for a briefing with Condoleezza Rice and George Tenet and John McLaughlin,” he recalled in a 2005 interview with the American Conservative. “I asked, ‘How much is Saddam Hussein’s total military budget?’ It was a little over two-tenths of one percent of ours. He was no threat to us whatsoever. He hadn’t attacked us. He hadn’t threatened to attack us. He wasn’t capable of attacking us.” The U.S. invasion, said Duncan, was “like the University of Tennessee football team taking on a second-grade football team-- it’s unbelievable.”

In a March 6, 2003 speech, Duncan presented a kind of unassailable logic rarely seen on that side of the aisle, explaining:

"It is a traditional conservative position to be critical of, skeptical about, even opposed to the very wasteful, corrupt United Nations, yet the primary justification for this war, what we hear over and over again, is that Iraq has violated 16 U.N. resolutions.

"Well, other nations have violated U.N. resolutions, yet we have not threatened war against them."

The chance he was taking was not lost on him, however. As he told the American Conservative, “When I pushed that button to vote against the war back in 2002, I thought I might be ending my political career.”
Conservative Republicans Walter Jones (R-NC) and Jimmy Duncan (R-TN)
Today North Carolina Republican Walter Jones is sorry-- very sorry-- he didn't make the same decision Duncan did. Unlike those 81 Democrats who have Bush the margin he needed, Jones has apologized-- and his voting record ever since his YES vote has reflected a change of heart. I wish we could say the same for the high ranking Democratic leaders who joined Gephardt in his support for Bush and Cheney that day. Most Democrats joined Nancy Pelosi in opposition, But the war boosters included some of the same awful Democrats today who are eager to "compromise" with Republicans in whittling away at the social safety net for American seniors. A coincidence? Many of the worst Democratic warmongers have been defeated and retired from public life-- from Rob Blagojevich (IL), Jane Harman (CA), Harold Ford (TN), Shelley Berkley (NV), and Howard Berman (CA) to Gene Taylor (MS), Ike Skelton (MO), Nick Lampson (TX), Tim Holden (PA), Baron Hill (IN), Leonard Boswell (IA), Al Wynn (MD) and Blue Dog founder Charlie Stenholm (TX). But many of the Democratic bad guys in 2002 are, sure enough, the Democratic bad guys in 2013:
Steny Hoyer (MD), #2 ranking House Democrat
Steve Israel (NY), chairman, DCCC
Joe Crowley (NY), Democratic caucus vice-chairman
Eliot Engel (NY), House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member
Ron Kind (WI), chairman of the Wall Street-oriented New Dems
Rob Andrews (NJ)
Jim Matheson (UT)
Adam Schiff (CA)

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4 Comments:

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Suzan said...

And who's organizing right now to take these guys OUT?

I'd send a few shekels myself.

And I have very little.

Thanks for the reporting!

S

 
At 3:22 PM, Anonymous robert dagg murphy said...

This is why I could never vote for Hillary.

I have a complete lack of faith in politicians. They think only of the next election. We have not had a real leader who was A politician since FDR with a few minor exceptions.

I have been watching Elizabeth Warren with great interest. So far I like what I see. She is the best hope for 2016 and I think she has many FDR qualities with a feminine touch.

We know it is time for a women in the white house.

She's the one.

 
At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Valley Girl said...

Howie,

Are you saying that you take at face value Obama's 2002 comments?

In the lead up to 2008 and to 2012 Obama said a lot of things, and made a lot of promises.

The only one he hasn't broken was thus:

Obama Pledges Entitlement Reform
By Michael D. Shear,January 16, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama pledged yesterday to shape a new Social Security and Medicare "bargain" with the American people, saying that the nation's long-term economic recovery cannot be attained unless the government finally gets control over its most costly entitlement programs.

Tried to make below a clickable link, but couldn't. It's the source for above.

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2009-01-16/politics/36899872_1_barack-obama-key-economic-priority-items-entitlement-reform

2002 speech transcript you gave is at
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99591469

"What I am opposed to is a dumb war."

(You mean like going back to Afghanistan, the Graveyard of Empires?)

"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."

(uh huh…. 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…. Hmmm… seems like Obama has been extremely distracted…)

“…and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe. “

(Sure. And he has done exactly what on that account?)

“Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.”

(Difficult to unpack that one… did he forget BP and the gulf disaster?)

“Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair. The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not — we will not — travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.”

(That hellish path blindly… no, I, Obama, will take my wisdom from the Military… because America is exceptional, and will conquer the Graveyard of Empires…and frankly, re: corruption and greed, we need to be sure that the 1% don't suffer so that I can be the most awesome Democrat President ever)

Obama has a history of making “fine speeches” that are totally at odds with his behavior.

What happened between that glorious speech in 2002 and the years after? And why? Or was simply another example of Obama’s craven desire to draw in the masses for his own and nefarious purposes?

 
At 6:23 AM, Blogger Pat said...

"What shall we do now, want to go into Iraq" are the broadcast questions of Bush during his Afghanistan Mission accomplished presentation that should be found and replayed at the affirmative pursuit of War in Iraq and where the momentum to go there began, for whatever reason.

America is a powerful nation, wealthy, and with plenty of fire power that it must use judiciously, not indiscriminately, or it could be no better than the biggest bully on the block which most Americans consider an attitude beneath its stature, and beneath its honor.

Bottom fishing should not be America's claim to legitimacy, or it can only lose legitimacy and become a rogue nation seeking conflict to exercise its dominance.

 

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