Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Who opposed the Iraq War?

Conventional wisdom is that while leading Democrat presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Biden, and John Kerry all voted for the Iraq War, Barack Obama and Al Gore have the virtue of being against the war all along.

I am wondering where the proof for this is. Obama and Gore were out of the Congress, and did not have to vote one way or the other. Their statements appear ambiguous. Eg, Gore said in Sept. 2002:
I believe this proposed foreshortening of deliberation in the Congress robs the country of the time it needs for careful analysis of exactly what may lie before us.
Gore made some valid points in that speech, but claiming that we rushed into war is not going to win him any votes. There was a long and public deliberation over the war decision. It is not clear from Gore's comments how he would have voted on the war. I think that it is a mistake to say that Obama and Gore were anti-war unless they actively spoke out against the war.

Gore also said:
I vividly remember that during one of the campaign debates in 2000, Jim Lehrer asked then-Governor Bush whether or not America, after being involved with military action, should engage in any form of nation building. The answer was, "I don't think so. I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm missing something here. We're going to have kind of a nation-building corps in America? Absolutely not." My point is, this is a Bush doctrine. This is administration policy. Given that it is administration policy, we have to take that into account as a nation in looking at the likely consequences of an overwhelming American military victory against the government of Iraq. If we go in there and dismantle them - and they deserve to be dismantled - but then we wash our hands of it and walk away and leave it in a situation of chaos, and say, "That's for y'all to decide how to put things back together now," that hurts us.
So Gore agreed that the Saddam Hussein govt of Iraq deserved to be dismantled, but argued that the USA should occupy Iraq long enough for some serious nation-building.

That is what Pres. Bush has done. He broke is promise to avoid nation-building. Those who oppose nation-building have a right to be annoyed with Bush's Iraq policy. But Gore's position was to advocate just the sort of nation-building that Bush has done. I don't see how Gore is going to argue that he would have handled the war any better.

This excerpt from Gore's new book, The Assault on Reason, starts with a complaint about a lack of public debate leading up to the Iraq War. I wonder how Gore could be so detached from reality. No war in all of human history was more publicly and openly debated. The arguments for and against the war were debated in Congress, on TV, on blogs, at the United Nations, and in other countries around the world.

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