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Why Obama Opposed Iraq War In 2002

First, let’s look at how Presidential candidate Obama now characterizes his heroic opposition to the war back in 2002.

From a transcript of the first Presidential debate:

LEHRER: Two minutes, how you see the lessons of Iraq, Senator Obama?

OBAMA: Well, this is an area where Senator McCain and I have a fundamental difference because I think the first question is whether we should have gone into the war in the first place.

Now six years ago, I stood up and opposed this war at a time when it was politically risky to do so because I said that not only did we not know how much it was going to cost, what our exit strategy might be, how it would affect our relationships around the world, and whether our intelligence was sound, but also because we hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan.

We hadn’t caught bin Laden. We hadn’t put al Qaeda to rest, and as a consequence, I thought that it was going to be a distraction. Now Senator McCain and President Bush had a very different judgment.

Back in August, Mr. Obama said roughly the same thing at the Saddleback Church debate:

WARRREN: What’s the most gut-wrenching decision you’ve even had to make and what was the process you used to make it?

OBAMA: The opposition to the war in Iraq was as tough a decision that I’ve had to make, not only because there were political consequences but also because Saddam Hussein was a bad person and there was no doubt that he meant America ill. But I was firmly convinced at the time that we did not have strong evidence of weapons of mass destruction and do we know how the Shiites and the Sunnis and the Kurds are going to get along in a post-Saddam situation? What’s our assessment as to how this will affect the battle against terrorists like Al-Qaeda? Have we finished the job in Afghanistan? And now as the war went forward, very difficult about how long do you keep funding the war if you strongly believe that it’s not in America’s national interest. At the same time you don’t want to have troops who are out there without the equipment they need.

As we have previously noted, since becoming a candidate Mr. Obama has repeatedly lied about why he opposed the war.

For we can see what he gave as his justification for opposing it in his oft-mentioned speech in 2002 from the floor of the Illinois Senate:

Remarks of Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama Against Going to War with Iraq

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 September 11th, 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 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.

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 Qaeda, 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 UN 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.

Where does Mr. Obama suggest that “our intelligence was not sound,” or that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction?

In fact, back in 2002 he suggested exactly the opposite:

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.

And where in his supposedly prescient 2002 speech does he suggest that the Shiites, Sunni and Kurds might not get along after Saddam is deposed?

These justifications are no where to be found because he never mentioned them.

Moreover, instead of invading Iraq Mr. Obama suggests that we needed to take on the whole Middle East because of how they oppress their people and tolerate inequality:

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 see, people only become terrorists because they are poor. Just ask Bin Laden.

But last night, as he has in countless other statements war, Mr. Obama claimed he opposed the Iraq war because he knew it would be “a distraction” which would keep us from finishing the job in Afghanistan and catching that product of a deprived childhood, Bin Laden:

We hadn’t caught bin Laden. We hadn’t put al Qaeda to rest, and as a consequence, I thought that it was going to be a distraction.

But in 2002, Mr. Obama’s only reference to “distraction” was that he believed that people with ideological agendas were using the war to distract us away from our lack of universal health care, corporate scandals and the worst stock market since the Great Depression:

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.

And, according to this New York Times article from July 26, 2004, Mr. Obama said he was not sure he would have even voted against the Iraq War resolution if he had been given the chance:

THE SPEAKER; A Surprise Senate Contender Reaches His Biggest Stage Yet

By MONICA DAVEY
Published: July 26, 2004

… [Barack Obama] opposed the war in Iraq, and spoke against it during a rally in Chicago in the fall of 2002. He said then that he saw no evidence that Iraq had unconventional weapons that posed a threat, or of any link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

In a recent interview, he declined to criticize Senators Kerry and Edwards for voting to authorize the war, although he said he would not have done the same based on the information he had at the time.

”But, I’m not privy to Senate intelligence reports,” Mr. Obama said. ”What would I have done? I don’t know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made.”

(Notice that even the first claim in the NYT piece is untrue, as we have demonstrated above.)

So to sum up, Mr. Obama’s current characterizations about why he opposed the war, like so many of his claims during the debate night, are blatantly false.

Which is quite amazing given that Mr. Obama has built his national political career on having had the brilliant judgement to have opposed the war in Iraq. A claim Mr. Clinton has correctly described as “a fairy tale.”

For as we have shown, Mr. Obama did not oppose the war for any of the reasons he now proudly trots out. And he even wavered about his opposition to the war when it was going well.

You have to ask yourself: if Mr. Obama will lie about something this vitally important and obvious, won’t he lie about anything?

Unfortunately, the answer appears to be — yes. 

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Saturday, September 27th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Why Obama Opposed Iraq War In 2002”

  1. Jeanie

    I absolutely, agree!

    He even comes off, as if to say….when I was Senator back then, and not a state Senator.

    He back peddaled and lied, about Georgia, then accused McCain of lying about it. Is this person a moron? Does he not realize, everything is copied, recorded, written down….and can be traced as a use for evidence, or reference.

    He lied last night about Kissinger. Even Kissinger was not pleased with this. If you read what Kissinger actually said….an 8th grader could interpret this. If Mr. Obama read it, and didn’t understand what it said….then this man has absolutely NO business being president. If he read it, and understood it….then he most certainly did lie about it, in front of millions of Americans, and not one in his corner has the guts, the heart, the conscience to stand up, and call him on it.

  2. pinandpuller

    I thought Obama said his grandpa liberated a nazi death camp, yet here he says his grandpa talked to people who liberated Auschwitz and Treblinka. What’s up with that? I wonder if his grandpa went to war to support truth-squads?

  3. Steve

    Obama Claims His Uncle Liberated Auschwitz | Sweetness & Light
    http://sweetness-light.com/arc.....-auschwitz

    89th Division Site ‘Confirms’ Obama’s Story | Sweetness & Light
    http://sweetness-light.com/arc.....ns-website




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