The Queen of Sheba at Solomon's Temple
"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."
Barack Obama is a phenomenon.
Not since King Solomon has a man been so wise.
What would the world be like if we had only listened to him?
Taking our cue from the latest NIE, we can say with a high degree of confidence that Barack Obama may be the next Commander-in-Chief. With that in mind, let us look back so that we may look ahead. Here's what he said about the invasion and the subsequent prosecution of the war:
"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.November 20, 2006
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 fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil.
I don't oppose all wars. After September 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. 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.... 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...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-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.
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...we vigorously enforce a nonproliferation 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."
This kind of realism has been missing since the very conception of this war, and it is what led me to publicly oppose it in 2002. The notion that Iraq would quickly and easily become a bulwark of flourishing democracy in the Middle East was not a plan for victory, but an ideological fantasy. I said then and believe now that Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator who craved weapons of mass destruction but posed no imminent threat to the United States; that a war in Iraq would harm, not help, our efforts to defeat al Qaeda and finish the job in Afghanistan; and that an invasion would require an occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.
Jan 30, 2007
Mr. President, today in Iraq, we sadly find ourselves at the very point I feared most when I opposed giving the President the open-ended authority to wage this war in 2002 - an occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences in the midst of a country torn by civil war.March 21, 2007
The American people have waited and the American people have been patient. We have given chance after chance for a resolution that has not come, and, more importantly, watched with horror and grief the tragic loss of thousands of brave young American soldiers.
The time for waiting in Iraq is over. The days of our open-ended commitment must come to a close. And the need to bring this war to an end is here.
That is why today, I'm introducing the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007.
This plan would not only place a cap on the number of troops in Iraq and stop the escalation, more importantly, it would begin a phased redeployment of U.S. forces with the goal of removing of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq by March 31st, 2008 - consistent with the expectations of the bipartisan Iraq study group that the President has so assiduously ignored.
The redeployment of troops to the United States, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the region would begin no later than May 1st of this year, toward the end of the timeframe I first proposed in a speech more than two months ago. In a civil war where no military solution exists, this redeployment remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi government to achieve the political settlement between its warring factions that can slow the bloodshed and promote stability.
There is no military solution to this war. No amount of U.S. soldiers – not 10,000 more, not 20,000 more, not the almost 30,000 more that we now know we are sending– can solve the grievances that lay at the heart of someone else’s civil war. Our troops cannot serve as their diplomats, and we can no longer referee their civil war. We must begin a phased withdrawal of our forces starting May 1st, with the goal of removing all combat forces by March 30th, 2008.Feb 11, 2008
"I strongly disagree with the administration's plans to 'pause' the long overdue removal of our combat brigades from Iraq," Obama said in a statement.
"We cannot wage war without end in Iraq while ignoring mounting costs to our troops and their families, our security and our economy.
"While the administration puts our drawdown on permanent pause, (Osama) bin Laden is on the loose, Afghanistan is sliding toward chaos, and we're spending billions of dollars a week in Baghdad instead of helping Americans who are struggling here at home."
When the World Trade Center Twin Towers were still smoking, when Saddam Hussein was corrupting the world with the now hardly mentioned "Oil for Food" program, when the post Gulf War containment stategy was failing, and when most of the world's intelligence agencies were sure that Saddam had WMD and was a threat to use them, Barack Hussein Obama "knew that Hussein posed no immediate threat." He also "knew " that General Petraeus would fail. Obama has said that unlike George W. Bush, he is a man that admits his errors but it seems that Senator Obama can only see the errors of others.
In hindsight, Obama and his supporters claim that he was right about deposing Saddam, but have they considered what effects a free Saddam might have had on Afghanistan? They do not address Hussein's corruption of the United Nations and refuse to acknowledge that the "containment" was breaking down. They do not, in any meaningful way, address Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Salafist ideology or the concept of good and evil. They do not ask hard questions about Islam. They are unwilling to project kinetic military power and the question should be raised as to whether a President Obama would have invaded Afghanistan or under what circumstances he would resort to military force in the future.
Peace keeping and multi-lateral diplomacy; that is their way and there is some doubt whether Obama and his supporters would go beyond the use of soft power. Will President Obama roll back the calendar to a pre-9/11 mentality? We can say with a moderate degree of confidence that he will. We are less confident about the consequences of doing so.