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Hillary Clinton's Iraq Lies

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  • Gary Keenan
    March 29, 2008 Hillary Clinton s Iraq Lies By Stephen Zunes On March 17, New York Senator and Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton gave a speech
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 30, 2008
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      March 29, 2008
      Hillary Clinton's Iraq Lies

      By Stephen Zunes
      On March 17, New York Senator and Democratic
      presidential contender Hillary Clinton gave a speech
      at George Washington University outlining her plans to
      de-escalate U.S. military involvement in Iraq. Though
      she called for the gradual withdrawal of U.S. combat
      brigades over the next several years, she continued to
      refuse to apologize for her 2002 vote authorizing the
      invasion, to acknowledge the illegality of the war, or
      to fully explain her false claims made at that time
      regarding Iraq's military capabilities and alleged
      ties to al-Qaeda. Nor was she able to offer an
      explanation as to what led to her dramatic shift from
      a supporter of the ongoing war and occupation as
      recently as a year and a half ago to her current more
      critical perspective.

      Below are excerpts from her speech, followed by
      annotated comments:

      "It has been five years this week since our president
      took us to war in Iraq."

      President George W. Bush was not solely responsible
      for taking the United States to war. He had
      accomplices, such as Hillary Clinton. Bush was only
      able launch the invasion as a result of being provided
      with the authorization to do so by a Congressional
      resolution. Clinton was among a minority of
      congressional Democrats who – combined with a
      Republican majority – provided sufficient votes to
      give the go-ahead for this illegal and disastrous war.



      "Bringing lasting stability to the region will take a
      president with the strength and determination, the
      knowledge and confidence...to rebuild our military
      readiness, to care for our veterans, and to redouble
      our efforts against al-Qaeda. If you give me the
      chance, I will be that president."

      As predicted prior to the invasion, the over-extension
      of the U.S. armed forces, the enormous costs, and the
      high casualty rates resulting from the war has greatly
      harmed U.S. military readiness, the ability to care
      for veterans, and the struggle against al-Qaeda. It's
      hard to imagine how someone who supported the invasion
      can be trusted to be the kind of president who will be
      able to address those needs.

      "Nearly 4,000 of [our troops] have, by now, made that
      ultimate sacrifice. Tens of thousands more have
      suffered wounds both visible and invisible to their
      bodies, their minds, and their hearts. Their families
      have sacrificed, too, in empty places at the dinner
      table, in the struggle to raise children alone, in the
      wrenching reversal of parents burying children... Our
      armed forces are stretched to near the breaking point
      with many of our troops on their second, third, or
      fourth tours of duty. ... Taking into consideration
      the long-term costs of replacing equipment and
      providing medical care for troops and survivors'
      benefits for their families, the war in Iraq could
      ultimately cost well over $1 trillion."

      In scholarly journals, in newspaper columns, in
      congressional testimony, on this web site, and
      elsewhere, there were ample warnings of just such
      disastrous consequences resulting from a U.S. invasion
      of Iraq. Regardless, Clinton apparently believed at
      the time that seizing control of that oil-rich country
      was worth the sacrifice. Only since public opinion
      polls indicated that she had no hope of winning the
      Democratic presidential nomination if she continued to
      support the war, did she start talking about the war's
      negative consequences.

      "I have met with our soldiers and military leaders [in
      Iraq]. I have met with Iraqi local, regional, and
      national elected and other influential officials."

      During her one trip to Iraq, in February 2005, she
      insisted that the U.S. occupation was "functioning
      quite well," although the security situation had
      deteriorated so badly that the four-lane divided
      highway on flat open terrain connecting the airport
      with the capital could not be secured at the time of
      her arrival, requiring a helicopter to transport her
      to the Green Zone. Though 55 Iraqis and one American
      soldier were killed during her brief visit, she
      insisted – in a manner remarkably similar to
      statements by Vice President Dick Cheney – that the
      rise in suicide bombings was evidence that the
      insurgency was failing.

      "The American people don't have to guess whether I'm
      ready to lead or whether I understand the realities on
      the ground in Iraq or whether I'd be too dependent on
      advisers to help me determine the right way forward.
      I've been working day-in and day-out in the Senate to
      provide leadership to end this war."

      In reality, until very recently, Clinton was one of
      the leading senators supporting the war. Even after
      the U.S. forces invaded and occupied Iraq and
      confirmed that – contrary to Clinton's initial
      justification for the U.S. conquest – Iraq did not
      have "weapons of mass destruction," active WMD
      programs, offensive delivery systems, or ties to
      al-Qaeda as she and other supporters of the war had
      claimed, she defended her vote to authorize the
      invasion anyway. When Representative John Murtha
      (D-PA) made his first call for the withdrawal of U.S.
      forces from Iraq in November 2005, she denounced his
      effort, calling a withdrawal of U.S. forces "a big
      mistake." In 2006, when Senator John Kerry sponsored
      an amendment that would have required the redeployment
      of U.S. forces from Iraq in order to advance a
      political solution to the growing sectarian strife,
      she voted against it.

      "Now, my Democratic opponent talks a great deal about
      a speech he gave in 2002. He is asking us to judge him
      by his words, and words can be powerful, but only if
      the speaker translates them into action and solutions.
      Senator Obama holds up his original opposition to the
      war on the campaign trail, but he didn't start working
      aggressively to end the war until he started running
      for president. So when he had a chance to act on his
      speech, he chose silence instead."

      It's ironic that Clinton, in a desperate effort to
      cover up for her support for the war and her lies to
      justify it, would belittle Obama's accurate and
      prescient understanding that invading Iraq was wrong.
      Back in October 2002, Obama publicly acknowledged that
      "Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the
      United States, or to his neighbors" and that "even a
      successful war against Iraq will require a U.S.
      occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined
      cost, with undetermined consequences." He also
      recognized 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." That same month in Washington, however,
      Clinton was insisting incorrectly that Iraq was such a
      dire threat to U.S. national security that it required
      her, "in the best interests of our nation," to vote to
      authorize the invasion.

      Furthermore, Obama did a lot more than give a speech:
      he gave interviews, lobbied members of Congress, and
      made a series of other statements in which he warned
      of the violent sectarian and ethnic divisions which
      could emerge following a U.S. invasion and occupation,
      the risks of a long-term U.S. military commitment, and
      the dangerous precedent of giving a carte blanche for
      a pre-emptive war.

      It was true that, much to the disappointment of many
      of his supporters, Obama did not initially take
      leadership in opposition to the war once he was
      elected to the U.S. Senate, though it is customary for
      freshman senators to take a back seat on foreign
      policy issues during the early part of their first
      term. Yet, by November of his first year in office,
      while Clinton was still backing Bush administration
      policy, Obama was calling for a reduction in U.S.
      forces. Within a year, Obama introduced legislation
      setting a date for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, well
      prior to Clinton supporting such legislation.

      "As we bring our troops and contractors home, we
      cannot lose sight of our strategic interests in this
      region. The reality is that this war has made the
      terrorists stronger. Well, they may not have been in
      Iraq before the war, they are there now, and we cannot
      allow Iraq to become a breeding ground and safe haven
      for terrorists who seek to attack us and our friends
      and allies. So let me be clear - under my plan,
      withdrawing from Iraq will not mean retreating from
      fighting terrorism in Iraq. That's why I will order
      small, elite strike forces to engage in targeted
      operations against al-Qaeda in Iraq. This will protect
      Iraqi citizens, our allies, and our families right
      here at home."

      Clinton did not always acknowledge the absence of
      terrorist operations in Iraq prior to the U.S.
      invasion and occupation. Indeed, in order to justify
      her vote to authorize the invasion, she insisted that
      Saddam had "given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to
      terrorists, including al-Qaeda members." This came
      despite top strategic analysts correctly informing her
      that there were no apparent links between Saddam
      Hussein's secular nationalist regime and the radical
      Islamist al-Qaeda, despite doubts of such claims
      appearing in the National Intelligence Estimates made
      available to her, and despite a subsequent definitive
      report by the Department of Defense which noted that
      not only did no such link exist, but that no such link
      could have even been reasonably suggested based upon
      the evidence available at that time. Now, as a direct
      consequence of the invasion and occupation she helped
      make possible, Clinton uses the very real presence of
      terrorist groups, including at least one major faction
      which identifies with al-Qaeda, as an excuse to
      continue prosecuting the war.






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