Election 2008 Foreign Policy Iraq Obama The Clintons

Hillary Clinton lies about Obama

Not that this is really news.  Mother Jones investigates the Hillary 2008 campaign’s specific characterizations of Obama’s position thus:

Clinton and her aides have been peddling false information about Obama to undercut one of his primary arguments: she voted for the war; I was against it. Engaging in such disingenuous attacks may help Clinton beat back Obama, but it is hardly the way for her to counter Obama’s claim that she represents poltics-as-usual. It only proves his point.

Andrew Sullivan explains the strategy behind this move.  It seems clear though that the Clintons are banking on the laziness and gullibility of the American people.

Iraq Politics

“Only idiots signed up. Only idiots died.”

Apparently Ted Rall is as offensive and clueless as my officemate.

Iraq Life The War on Terrorism

The morons die with our respect.

A direct quote from an officemate today; I walked in on the middle of this conversation:

…but war is good.  We need war every few years or so to kill off all the morons – send the jocks, the meatheads, all of them.  We need to let them volunteer, go off and get killed – like in Iraq; it’s perfect.  Who else would be willing to go?  I mean with respect of course – the morons die with our respect. [Waving his hand to dismiss someone.]

One of the most unusual people I know discussing why war is good.  He’s generally a conservative, in a Catholic religious sense.  But he has a determinedly independent streak and a penchant for saying outrageous things.

He also maintained at a previous point that the Taliban in Afghanistan were “basically” the “good guys” because they were religious instead of the thugs growing drugs.  I in no way endorse what he says – but his point of view is distinct and usually well-thought out.  It just goes to show how far a faulty premise can take you.

Election 2008 Foreign Policy Iraq Politics The War on Terrorism

The Iraq Thing

“Even though I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning,” said Clinton, “I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers.”[digg-reddit-me]

So Bill Clinton said yesterday in Iowa. Most people – myself included – were under the impression that the former president supported the Iraq war. Perhaps it was items like the one below that led me to such conclusions. Most of the commenters on this have concluded that Bill Clinton is trying to rewrite history. But parsing Clinton’s statements reveals something else. He made statements again and again that would lead any reasonable observer to believe he supported the invasion, but on closer examination, it depends on what your definition of is is.
In an interview with Time magazine in June 2004, Bill Clinton was asked if President Bush was right to invade Iraq.

You know, I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq, even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over. I don’t believe he went in there for oil. We didn’t go in there for imperialist or financial reasons. We went in there because he bought the Wolfowitz-Cheney analysis that the Iraqis would be better off, we could shake up the authoritarian Arab regimes in the Middle East, and our leverage to make peace between the Palestinians and Israelis would be increased.

At the moment the U.N. inspectors were kicked out in ’98, this is the proper language: there were substantial quantities of botulinum and aflatoxin, as I recall, some bioagents, I believe there were those, and VX and ricin, chemical agents, unaccounted for. Keep in mind, that’s all we ever had to work on. We also thought there were a few missiles, some warheads, and maybe a very limited amount of nuclear laboratory capacity.

After 9/11, let’s be fair here, if you had been President, you’d think, Well, this fellow bin Laden just turned these three airplanes full of fuel into weapons of mass destruction, right? Arguably they were super-powerful chemical weapons. Think about it that way. So, you’re sitting there as President, you’re reeling in the aftermath of this, so, yeah, you want to go get bin Laden and do Afghanistan and all that. But you also have to say, Well, my first responsibility now is to try everything possible to make sure that this terrorist network and other terrorist networks cannot reach chemical and biological weapons or small amounts of fissile material. I’ve got to do that.

That’s why I supported the Iraq thing. There was a lot of stuff unaccounted for. So I thought the President had an absolute responsibility to go to the U.N. and say, “Look, guys, after 9/11, you have got to demand that Saddam Hussein lets us finish the inspection process.” You couldn’t responsibly ignore [the possibility that] a tyrant had these stocks. I never really thought he’d [use them]. What I was far more worried about was that he’d sell this stuff or give it away. Same thing I’ve always been worried about North Korea’s nuclear and missile capacity. I don’t expect North Korea to bomb South Korea, because they know it would be the end of their country. But if you can’t feed yourself, the temptation to sell this stuff is overwhelming. So that’s why I thought Bush did the right thing to go back. When you’re the President, and your country has just been through what we had, you want everything to be accounted for.

I’ve excerpted the entire response here for two reasons: 1) to demonstrate that I’m not selectively highlighting certain statements; and 2) to show how deftly President Clinton failed to answer the question. If I read this at the time, I would have been under the strong impression that Bill Clinton supported the invasion of Iraq. If I had read the text extremely closely, trying to determine if he had actually said he supported the invasion, I would have found that he had not. Clinton is suddenly vague when saying what he supports: calling it “the Iraq thing”.

A charitable reader, or even a normal person, would take this to mean that the individual speaking could not think of the appropriate word for a moment. But if, three years later, President Clinton is insisting that he opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, the whole conversation takes on a different cast: his comments are clearly designed to lead someone to believe he did support the invasion, but he was apparently careful enough not to say this directly. A lie is a statement that deviates from or perverts the truth. Clinton spoke as if he were trying to avoid being charged with perjury while avoiding the truth. But his intent is now clear.

In short, we shouldn’t be surprised: Bill Clinton lied for political reasons.

Meanwhile, Marc Ambinder explains how Bill’s statements have been hurting Hillary.

Election 2008 Foreign Policy Iraq Obama Politics The War on Terrorism

Obama on Iran

In this piece in the New York Times tomorrow, Obama discusses what his approach to Iran would be. Not much news made in the interview in my opinion. Along with some criticisms of Iran’s actions of late, Obama stated that he would:

“engage in aggressive personal diplomacy”…and would offer economic inducements and a possible promise not to seek “regime change” if Iran stopped meddling in Iraq and cooperated on terrorism and nuclear issues.

His conciliatory approach to Iran seems like part of a smart strategy at this point given the Iranian people’s overall anger towards their own governement and affinity for American culture, as well as general demographic trends and tactical considerations in the region. I think his approach would be similar to Hillary’s – with the Senator from New York moving more slowly and putting in less effort, and probably posturing to try to ward off attacks from her right – but I truly appreciate the fact that he is telling the country now what he plans to do instead of running a campaign based on fear of Republican demonization.

Election 2008 Iraq Politics Roundup The War on Terrorism

Worth Mulling Over

  • Noam Scheiber over at TNR on how the media controls politics, specifically Huckabee’s campaign.
    His cynical theory which strikes me as highly plausible:

    1.) The beginning of what should have been a Huckabee boomlet in August happened way out in Ames, Iowa, while the beginning of the actual Huckabee boomlet this past weekend took place in Washington, DC, making it a lot easier for journalists, pundits, and bloggers to cover–and, er, create. (Though, in fairness, a lot of journalists trekked to Ames.)

    2.) Perhaps more importantly, the results of Ames weren’t announced until fairly late in the evening–8 o’clock or so if I recall–which was well after most MSM reporters had written their stories for the following day. (Many simply went back and inserted a few lines or a paragraph about Huckabee into stories that trumpeted Romney’s first-place victory, which was easily foreseen.) On the other hand, Huckabee’s speech last Saturday at the Values Voters summit happened around 11, and the result of the event’s straw poll were announced just after 3, leaving reporters with plenty of time to write about the reaction to Huckabee’s speech and his performance in the balloting.

    3.) Finally, because the first event was in Ames, which most reporters promptly departed, and the second was in Washington, where many reporters, pundits, and bloggers either live, work, or both, the media was able to soak in the afterglow of Huckabee’s performance this weekend, to chat about it with others who had witnessed it, and to therefore magnify it in their coverage in subsequent days. That wasn’t the case with the straw poll in August.

  • Andrew Sullivan pointed us to this relevant quote from 1866:

    “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism …” – The Supreme Court, Ex Parte Milligan, 1866.

  • Andrew Sullivan also wrote this great post describing how the decision to torture leads to the decision to invade Iraq, and how people who aren’t evil can end up committing great evils.

    Until they are both gone from office, we are in grave danger – the kind of danger that only torturers and fantasists and a security strategy based on coerced evidence can conjure up. And since they have utter contempt for the role of the Congress in declaring war, we and the world are helpless to stop them. Every day we get through with them in power, I say a silent prayer of thanks that the worst hasn’t happened. Yet. Because we sure know they’re looking in all the wrong places.

Election 2008 Foreign Policy Iraq Obama Politics The War on Terrorism

Barack Obama on Iraq

Just impressive. I missed this as I didn’t catch the Petraeus testimony in September, only picking up highlights on the news.