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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Barack Obama: looking back

Barack Obama, who conveniently for him wasn't in the U.S. Congress when Congress voted for war, is busy portraying himself as a steadfast opponent of the invasion of Iraq from the beginning. Perhaps he was. But it might be instructive to look back at the speech which catapulted him to prominence, his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Here's the meat of what he had to say about Iraq at that time:
"When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they are going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world.

"Now, let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued. And they must be defeated.

"John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure."
Now, in fairness, Obama was giving a nomination speech for John Kerry, so he was hardly going to expound a position on the war significantly different than Kerry. On the other hand, if he actually had such a position, and had any principles, he wouldn't have given a speech nominating Kerry if it meant compromising those principles. So what did he say? The standard litany of Democratic complaints - the numbers were "fudged" and the truth "shaded" about why the war was being launched, and there weren't enough troops to "win the war." Not a word of opposition to the entire concept of "preemptive" war, or the idea that the invasion of Iraq had anything whatsoever to do with U.S. "national security," and all that coupled with a promise to keep using U.S. military power to "defeat our enemies" (rather than doing anything which might keep people from actually becoming "our" enemies.)

By the way, the truth was not "shaded," it was butchered, and the numbers weren't "fudged," they were fabricated.

Not much in that speech to hang your hat on if you're looking for someone who was actually antiwar, and who had any political courage whatsoever.

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