Iraq, Apologies and Hillary

The Hillary camp says:

“If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience in Dover, N.H., in a veiled reference to two rivals for the nomination, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

Personally, I don't care about an apology. What I want to know is why she thought a war with Iraq in 2002 made strategic sense, even if the intelligence was not wrong and stovepiped. Because, Senator Clinton, this is perhaps the most serious question we ask of our Presidential candidates- when do you think we should use military force? Your vote FOR the Iraq war in October 2002 was wrong on every level. It is a vote that must be explained. And yes, you voted for war Senator:


(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 . . .

The question is why. It is a question you should answer.

Senator Clinton, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, General Wesley Clark said:

. . . The resolution need not at this point authorize the use of force, but simply agree on the intent to authorize the use of force, if other measures fail.

Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Clark said:

. . . GEN. CLARK: I think that the United States always has the option of acting unilaterally. But I'd say in this case it's a question of what's the sense of urgency here, and how soon would we need to act unilaterally? And so I think it's very important that we recognize that so far as any of the information has been presented, as General Hoar said, there is nothing that indicates that in the immediate, next hours, next days, that there's going to be nuclear-tipped missiles put on launch pads to go against our forces or our allies in the region. And so I think there is, based on all of the evidence available, sufficient time to work through the diplomacy of this.

. . . I think the third requirement is that we have the ingenuity and patience to work on the coalition partners we need and our allies, from many different directions and many different perspectives.

We need to go to NATO. Have we gone to NATO? NATO came to us after 9/11 and said, "This is a violation of the North Atlantic Charter. This is Article 5. We want to work with you." This is a great opportunity for NATO to come in. Have we done that? Mr. Rumsfeld's over there today, talking to NATO ministers. So I think that's one indication.

I think from NATO you go back to the United Nations. I think you make your case in front of all of the Islamic organizations. You make it at various levels, from the military level on up to the head of state level, and you work it.

. . . GEN. CLARK: I've been concerned that the attention on Iraq will distract us from what we're doing with respect to al Qaeda. I don't know all of the particulars today of how we distribute our resources around the world. These are details that are classified; they're handled by very well-understood processes. But it was my -- it's been my experience from commanding and combat that I would like every bit of intelligence I could get, and we used a lot going after only that small part of Europe which we were attacking in 1999, inside Yugoslavia and in Kosovo.

So I think, as a minimum, that when one opens up another campaign, there is a diversion of effort. The question is whether the diversion of effort is productive or counterproductive. I really -- it's -- there are forces operating in both directions at this point. You can make the argument, as General Shalikashvili did, that you want to cut off all sources of supply. Problem with that argument is that Iran really has had closer linkages with the terrorists in the past and still does, apparently, today, than Iraq does. So that leads you to then ask, well, what will be the impact on Iran? And that's uncertain. But it does -- if you could take these weapons out quickly, then it would cut off that potential source of supply.

On the other hand, by lumping the two together -- al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein -- it's also possible that we will have incentivized Saddam Hussein now as a last-ditch defense to do what we wouldn't have done before, which is, "Go find me the nearest members of al Qaeda. Here, take this sack and do something with it." So it's not clear which way this cuts right now, but at some point, we are going to have to deal with Saddam Hussein. We are going to have to work against the weapons of mass destruction -- not only there but also, in the case of Iran.

And whether this is the right way, the right time to do it depends in large measure on how we proceed. And this is why I underscore again and again the importance of diplomacy first and going through the United Nations, because I think that gives us our best way of reaching out to achieve this objective with minimum adverse impact on the struggle against al Qaeda. The longer we can reasonably keep the focus on al Qaeda, the better that war is going to go, in my view.

. . . SEN. CLELAND: And if you took out Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party, the secularist party, don't the Sunnis and the Shi'ite Muslims make up a majority of the population in Iraq, and wouldn't that give Iran a strong hand there, and we ultimately end up creating a Muslim state, even under democratic institutions?

GEN. CLARK: Yes, sir. I think that there is a substantial risk in the aftermath of the operation that we could end up with a problem which is more intractable than we have today.

One thing we're pretty clear on is that Saddam has a very effective police state apparatus. He doesn't allow challenges to his authority inside that state. When we go in there with a transitional government and a military occupation of some indefinite duration, it's also very likely that if there is an effective al Qaeda left -- and there certainly will be an effective organization of extremists -- they will pour into that country because they must compete for the Iraqi people; the Wahabes with the Sunnis, the Shi'as from Iran working with the Shi'a population. So it's not beyond consideration that we would have a radicalized state, even under a U.S. occupation in the aftermath.

While it is positive that:

The [Clinton] campaign began a push yesterday to deal with its Iraq challenge. Besides her remarks in New Hampshire, Mrs. Clinton submitted a bill in the Senate to block sending more troops to Iraq, though she would not cut off financing. In a new video on her Web site, she called for starting to redeploy troops within 90 days — or else, she threatened, Congress should revoke authorization for the war.

this does nothing to answer questons on her thinking in 2002, when she voted for the most disastrous strategic blunder in the history of the nation.

< Gary Hart: Bring the National Guard Home From Iraq | The "Treasonous" Lincoln >
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  • Display: Sort:
    No excuses that I know (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by vision4america on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 06:33:28 PM EST
    I think excuses that "we were fooled by Bush" or the "intelligence was bad" doesn't hold any water. There were PLENTY of articles that cast doubt on the legitimacy of every justification. But simple common sense can go a long way. Iraq was under the most stringent economic sanctions in modern history. We had no-fly zones dividing the country. Saddam's military was hardly a threat--we bombed every target we could in the first Gulf War. Sectarian violence was forewarned. Why would Saddam support a terrorist group that had already labeled him an tyrant and 'enemy of Islam'? Mrs. Clinton being in the Senate had even more resources than the average BuzzFlash reader--she should have known better than to authorize war when weapon inspections were working at the time; Iraq was being disarmed right up until we started bombing them. Hillary along with every member of Congress should have done their duty, such as having an actual debate on the war before even voting on it. As much as I would LOVE to vote for a woman president, she has lost any respect as someone who can make critical judgments when needed.

    People who were pro-war (none / 0) (#18)
    by rilkefan on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 07:35:32 PM EST
    (iirc) Kleiman.  Yglesias.  Drum.  Drezner.

    I thought invading was a bad idea, as Clinton did.  I opposed the AUMF, but I still respect people who were wrong on the bloody war.  I'll vote for Clark over Clinton, but I would have anyway.


    Sanctions? (none / 0) (#19)
    by Jason Van Steenwyk on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 07:52:36 PM EST
    These powerful sanctions to which you refer were collapsing. This was the opinion of then Secretary of State Powell as well as the opinion of the authors of the Duelfer report.

    Specifically, the Duelfer report concluded that
    "By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of the sanctions or undermine their support. Iraq was within striking distance of a de facto end to the sanctions regime, both in terms of oil exports and the trade embargo, by the end of 1999."

    The fact that you put so much faith in the sanctions regime belies your naivete or lack of information.


    Consider the sources (none / 0) (#21)
    by rilkefan on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 11:54:56 PM EST
    The guy who presented a b.s. case he probably hardly believed to the UN, and a report from a CIA/DIA venture wrapping an inescapable admission of the admin screw-up in as much insulation as they dared.

    frankly BTD, you, and all the rest, who (1.00 / 1) (#8)
    by cpinva on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 05:16:00 AM EST
    clammer for an "apology", or an "explanation" are well and truely full of it. first off, she doesn't need to apologize. she, like many of the rest of us, were clearly deceived by the bush administration.

    further, it's clear, from the record, that most of those voting for the resolution had legitimate reason to believe that attacking iraq was an option of last resort.

    finally, sen. clinton has stated, very clearly, that had she known then what she knows now, not only would she not have voted for the resolution, it never would have been an issue.

    what don't you understand? should i repeat it, slowly, for you to grasp?

    she was among the first, back in 2004, to recognize and point out that we had all been deceived by the white house. that the "intelligence" used to support the legitimacy of the iraq invasion was either bogus, or cherry picked. this is what congress, and the rest of us, got from bush & co.

    add to that colin powell's U.N. presentation, and we were all pretty convinced, because of his bona fides. i, and many, many others, figured if powell said it, it must be true, because he wouldn't send troops into harm's way for no good reason, even if bush would.

    true, many of us, including sen. clinton, had lingering doubts, but we were willing to give bush the benefit of the doubt, because of 9/11, and the assumption that he was privy to data we weren't.

    again, what is it that seems to leave you clueless?

    You are full of it as is she (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 11:54:54 AM EST
    "she, like many of the rest of us, were clearly deceived by the bush administration."

    That's not my question. I cite General Clark particularly because HE  believed the intelligence too and said NO to the Debacle.

    "further, it's clear, from the record, that most of those voting for the resolution had legitimate reason to believe that attacking iraq was an option of last resort."

    This is just false.  Bush was going to war. Only a fool thought otherwise.

    "finally, sen. clinton has stated, very clearly, that had she known then what she know then what she knows now, not only would she not have voted for the resolution . . ."

     So she made a mistake? Why? What was her mistake?

    The ridiculous and childish obstinance she displays on this issue is a bad sign. And you know what? She goings to admit it is a mistake soon enough. And look even more foolish for waiting.

    Just an absurdity.


    Therefore, her qualifications are... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by sphealey on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 03:24:46 PM EST
    = clammer for an "apology", or an "explanation" are well and truely full of it. first off, she doesn't need to apologize. she, like many of the rest of us, were clearly deceived by the bush administration. =
    And therefore, her qualifications to be President are what exactly?  

    Do you not think that many, many entities in the world attempt to deceive every US President?  Not least of all their own agencies, but certainly other states, other branches of gov't, our friends, our enemies, and so on?  If Ms. Clinton was not able to spot George W. Bush's dissimulation how can we trust her to spot the next one?



    Yes (none / 0) (#1)
    by Al on Sat Feb 17, 2007 at 03:36:46 PM EST
    Indeed. Anyone who professes to be in opposition to the Bush regime, must unequivocally stand for peace. This is what it is all about.

    Peace with whom? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Feb 17, 2007 at 05:58:43 PM EST
    Unilateral peace?  Peace at any cost?

    Yes, but an apology is better (none / 0) (#2)
    by bob5540 on Sat Feb 17, 2007 at 04:03:44 PM EST
    First: I agree with you. But its only half the story. She owes an explanation, sure, but the only explanation she can give that will make sense is that she was pandering -- more interested in showing false patriotism and balls than using her intelligence to make the right decision.

    Therefore, an explanation by itself will not gain my vote. An apology won't guarantee my vote, either, but at least it will show that she has learned something. A truthful explanation AND an apology would show she has guts.

    That said, it doesn't look like my vote will count. Our next president will probably be elected in the early primaries, if she isn't Nancy Pelosi, that is.

    apology doesn't cut it (none / 0) (#5)
    by jen on Sat Feb 17, 2007 at 07:18:53 PM EST
    Those who voted for the IWR that was passed can apologize or not -- it matters not to me. What matters more is their vote was either a critical lack of judgement and/or a calculated political decision. Either way, not a good quality for our next President.

    Disagree on several points (none / 0) (#7)
    by rilkefan on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 02:22:09 AM EST
    Didn't we argue after the AUMF that it wasn't a vote for war?  Do you want to cede that to the right wing?

    I think it's unreasonable not to cite Clinton's speech at the time of the vote - she said of a unilateral attack, or an attack with a few allies: "it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us. ... on the present facts [it] is not a good option".  This directly contradicts your "What I want to know is why she thought a war with Iraq in 2002 made strategic sense".

    Who's we? (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 11:55:44 AM EST
    It was a vote for war. And I won't lie for Hillary Clinton.

    We = liberals (none / 0) (#11)
    by rilkefan on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 01:39:34 PM EST
    Those of us who argued against the right wingers that Bush didn't have the authority to invade Iraq on the basis of the resolution.

    Even if you agree that he did, or that it gave him sufficient cover, I think it's disingenuous to ignore the Democrats' position at the time, which your assertion does.

    "I won't lie for Hillary Clinton."

    But you're ignoring evidence which flatly contradicts your "strategic sense" claim, which is hardly better.


    You were wrong (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 02:09:53 PM EST
    He had full authority.

    If you care what you write - e.g., (none / 0) (#14)
    by rilkefan on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 04:50:37 PM EST
    "this does nothing to answer questons on her thinking in 2002" - then why not quote what she said at the time - that going to war would be a bad idea?  Why not google the context?  Why not quote her remarks at the '03 NASPAC, where she opposed the Bush doctrine of preventitive war?

    sorry (none / 0) (#16)
    by rilkefan on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 06:04:53 PM EST
    above subj came out much harsher than intended - just strike.

    If any (none / 0) (#15)
    by jondee on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 04:53:54 PM EST
    politician ever unequivocably admits they made a mistake its immediatly spun by the rabble that pass for intelligent commentators as a sign of weakness, vacillation and "flip flopping". We dont allow human, learning, works-in-progress; the product must be packaged as pristine and state-of-the-art.

    Hillary does whatever will advance her agenda, (none / 0) (#20)
    by TTGodwit on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 11:27:28 PM EST
    at any given time, in whatever way she thinks will work.
    Spin it,  distort it, misdirect it. use the media, use us.

    Very good buisness.

    Very bad President.

    We can not afford her.

    End of story.

    I am grateful to BTD, and others here for doing the research, finding the links, and having the UM, exploratory dialog.  I learn a great deal from you all.

    Make nice though, please. We need to use the diplomacy the politicians won't use, or we end up with just another would-be dictator in the white house. And a whole lot more soldiers who will not be coming home.

    use it only as a last resort (none / 0) (#22)
    by onit2day on Mon Feb 19, 2007 at 02:35:43 AM EST
    HRC voted to give executive power to Bush for war because she believes the President should have such power but<as evidenced by her comment early in 2003 & 2004 she expected the president to use it only after he had exhausted all other options, as a last resort only.  What if they had fouind WMD and everything else Bush claimed would we even be discussing an apology?  I think not. She would have given the power to Bill Clinton knowing he would not abuse it and jump to war without trying everthing else first.  In other words, she trusted the President.  We are supposed to trust our President to act only for the good of the country not some corporate agenda. Hilliary voiced suspicion of the President's actions early on(2003). After 9/11, fear dominated the US and Bush/Cheney manipulated everyone. Clinton was doubly angered as they attacked not only America but also her home state of NY which elected her Senator.  Having been in the White House she knew a president should not have his hands tied, especially during crisis time.  To be focused on such a trivial issue and giving it such importance when we are trying to stand united against the Iraq war is absurd. HRC says get over it and rightly so, 'cause if you're staying focused there then you are impeding progress toward the real issues.