Monday, May 5, 2008

Cutting through the fog on the Iraq Authorization vote

Ambassador Joseph Wilson has an extremely well-reasoned essay on the the Iraq War and what the experiences of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have to do with it. Ambassador Wilson knows a bit about foreign policy. Taylor Marsh posts it here, but here is a brief excerpt:

Obama's campaign has been built upon his supposed transcendent qualities and intuitive judgment. His foreign policy experience is limited to having lived in Indonesia between the ages of 6 and 10, and having traveled overseas briefly as a college student. He further claims that a speech he gave against the war in Iraq six years ago to extremely liberal supporters in a campaign for state senator in Illinois is sufficient proof of his superior judgment in national security matters and qualifies him to be president and commander-in-chief of U.S. Armed Forces at a time when we are fighting two extraordinarily difficult wars. As with his relationship with Wright, a closer examination is warranted.

In the U.S. Senate, to which he was elected in 2004, a year after the launching of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he has done little to act on his asserted anti-war position, and has said repeatedly that had he been in the Senate at the time of the vote on the authorization for the use of military force he doesn't know how he would have voted. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Europe, with jurisdiction over NATO, he has held not a single oversight meeting because, as he admitted, he was too busy running for president, even though NATO's presence in the Afghanistan war is critical to success in that venture.

One of my biggest concerns with Obama has been just this: while he says he is anti-war, what has he done since getting elected to the Senate? As for Hillary Clinton's vote to give the president authority, Ambassador Wilson explains it clearly:

Obama repeats the incorrect and politically irresponsible mantra that Sen. Hillary Clinton voted for the war and that therefore he is more qualified to be president. Unlike Obama, as the last acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq during the first Gulf War, I was deeply involved in that debate from the beginning.

President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell made it clear publicly and in their representations to Congress that the authorization was not to go to war but rather to give the president the leverage he needed to go to the United Nations to reinvigorate international will to contain and disarm Saddam Hussein, consistent with the resolutions passed at the time of the first Gulf War.

With passage of the resolution, the president did in fact achieve a U.N. consensus, and inspectors returned to Iraq. Hans Blix, the chief U.N. inspector, has said repeatedly that without American leadership there would have been no new inspection regime.

Just to be clear, I'll say it again: If Barack Obama wins the nomination, I will vote for him. But I'll still always think Hillary Clinton would be better.

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