Monday, February 04, 2008

IT’S THE IRAQ WAR, STUPID (and torture, and Guantanamo, and spying on Americans, and...)

Hillary Clinton: too clever for her own good, voted for war in 2002 to position herself to run for President later; now won't admit her mistake in handing the worst President in history a blank check to kill hundreds of thousands of human beings while decimating America's military, eroding our civil liberties, and destroying our moral standing at home and abroad

It was a moment which might come once in a lifetime. It was also a moment which may have doomed a presidential campaign. John Edwards, a former U.S. Senator from North Carolina, was stumping for the Democratic nomination for president, sharing the stage with Jimmy Carter at a college in Americus, Georgia. In the audience, standing respectfully at a microphone, was the father of a twice deployed Iraq War veteran. His daughter-in-law was one day away from her second deployment. Several thousand people listened as the obviously emotional parent asked the politician:

“Senator, Democrats have been criticized for being ‘cut and run defeatists’ who will lose the war in Iraq. We have been accused of having no ‘Plan B’ for dealing with the chaos in that country other than just leaving it as a hotbed for Islamic terrorism. Why don’t you propose an alternative- a Plan B that would get American troops out of the country without abdicating our moral responsibility to the Iraqi people? Why not suggest that we engage our closest Arab allies in the region-- Jordan and Egypt-- and pay whatever it would take to rent part of their standing armies and bring them to Iraq as peacekeepers as we rotate our troops out of the country? After all, they have a greater stake in having a peaceful Middle East than we do. They have a greater stake in not having Islamic extremists take power in Iraq. Why not propose a plan that would replace English speaking, mostly Christian foreigners, and bring in Arabic speaking, Muslim peacekeepers? Why not defuse the attraction of Iraq as a recruiting ground for Al Qaida ? Why not propose a plan that would put the Bush Administration and the Republican leadership in the position of having to explain why they think it would be better for America to have our sons and daughters dying in Iraq’s civil war? Make them tell America why they want us to have an open ended commitment, draining hundreds of billions of dollars from America’s treasury, with no end in sight and no exit strategy.”

Mr. Edwards, somewhat surprisingly, agreed with the comments of the father. He said he thought that it would be a good idea to bring in Arabic speaking, Muslim peacekeepers from the region to replace American troops. But the father had not sat down, and immediately followed up: “Senator, will you make that proposal at the next debate?”

Then Edwards made his fatal mistake. In an election whose most motivated voters had focused on ending the Iraq War, on ending the drain of blood and money from America, on reducing the threat from international terrorism by removing the provocation of American troops on Arab soil as invaders and occupiers, he had an opportunity to seize on an idea that could have generated a groundswell of support among both primary voters and Democrats in Congress. An idea which could have altered both the dynamics of the election and of our foreign policy, which could have started us down the path of regaining our self respect as a nation and our stature abroad.

Instead, he answered, somewhat lamely, “Well, we only have time for 30 second sound bites in the debates, and I don’t know if there will be enough time.....” In the months that followed, he never made a concrete proposal to end America’s military involvement in the civil war in Iraq.

Five months later, the father was in a voting booth in Georgia, casting his ballot a week in advance of the Democratic primary. He had weighed the advantages and disadvantages of voting for Edwards or for Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton was not an option. She had never backed down from her position that she had not made a mistake in judgment when she voted in 2002 to authorize President Bush to use the American military in Iraq to protect America from fictional weapons of mass destruction. In the years following, long after the official lies had been exposed, she had consistently voted for funding the war which had killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, thousands of Americans, and cost over $500 billion. Edwards had admitted his Senate vote for war in Iraq was a mistake, albeit way too late to have made a difference. He waited until after the 2004 Presidential election, unbelievably claiming in a 2007 Meet the Press interview that he had been too busy during the ‘04 campaign to think about his position on the war- the central issue in that election.

Finally, the father cast his vote- in favor of Barack Obama, whose judgment had been right from day one. In the months leading up to March 19, 2003, when President Bush gave the fatal order to send 150,000 Marines and soldiers, including one young Marine reservist from Southwest Georgia, over the Kuwait-Iraq border, Obama had publicly opposed giving the worst president in history the authority to use the United States military as he saw fit. For the father casting his ballot, that was enough to tip the scales. Coincidentally or not, Edwards dropped out of the race the next day.


Blogger libhom said...

This post reminds me of how the corporate media treat the war in Iraq and the economy as separate issues. Never mind that the economy is being devastated by the war.

9:51 PM  

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