[OPE-L] "Using these powers wisely"... pondering Hilary Clinton at her word

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Mon Jan 29 2007 - 15:39:22 EST

During a weekend campaign stop in Iowa, Senator Clinton was repeatedly
questioned about her vote in 2002 to authorise the war in Iraq, but she
stopped short of repudiating that vote. "If we had known then what we know
now, there never would have been a vote and I never would have voted to give
the President the authority," she said. "And I think it is the height of
irresponsibility and I really resent it that he is saying the next president
would have to deal with Iraq. This was his decision to go to war. He went
with an ill-conceived plan, an incompetently executed strategy, and we
should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves

Flashback to November 2005:

"If Congress had been asked [to authorize the war], based on what we know
now, we never would have agreed," Clinton said, in an email sent to her
supporters on Tuesday.

Flashback to April 2004:

"How could they have been so poorly prepared for the aftermath of the
toppling of Saddam Hussein?" the New York Democrat asked Tuesday night on
CNN's "Larry' King Live." "I don't understand how they had such an
unrealistic view of what was going to happen."

Flashback to October 2002:

"If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a
precedent that could come back to haunt us. In recent days, Russia has
talked of an invasion of Georgia to attack Chechen rebels. India has
mentioned the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on Pakistan. And what if
China were to perceive a threat from Taiwan? So Mr. President, for all its
appeal, a unilateral attack, while it cannot be ruled out, on the present
facts is not a good option. (...) This is a very difficult vote. This is
probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make -- any vote that may
lead to war should be hard -- but I cast it with conviction. And perhaps my
decision is influenced by my eight years of experience on the other end of
Pennsylvania Avenue in the White House watching my husband deal with serious
challenges to our nation. (...) My vote is not, however, a vote for any new
doctrine of pre-emption, or for uni-lateralism, or for the arrogance of
American power or purpose -- all of which carry grave dangers for our
nation, for the rule of international law and for the peace and security of
people throughout the world. (...) I urge the President to spare no effort
to secure a clear, unambiguous demand by the United Nations for unlimited
inspections. And finally, on another personal note, I come to this decision
from the perspective of a Senator from New York who has seen all too closely
the consequences of last year's terrible attacks on our nation. In balancing
the risks of action versus inaction, I think New Yorkers who have gone
through the fires of hell may be more attuned to the risk of not acting. I
know that I am. So it is with conviction that I support this resolution as
being in the best interests of our nation. A vote for it is not a vote to
rush to war; it is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of
our President and we say to him - use these powers wisely and as a last
resort. And it is a vote that says clearly to Saddam Hussein - this is your
last chance - disarm or be disarmed."
http://clinton.senate.gov/speeches/iraq_101002.html  (The resolution
formally stated "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the
United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing
threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security
Council Resolutions regarding Iraq).

"The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat
Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use
them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and
all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." -
Bill Clinton, 1998


It all seems pretty consistent at least, and it's easy to point to mistakes
afterwards of course. As Lenin remarked, in politics, you have to be correct
at the correct time, which can be hellishly difficult, even if you had the
best of democracy. But, given we all make mistakes, where's the flaw in the
Clinton position, if there is one?

Prima facie, it seems - with the benefit of hindsight - to be a threefold
apparent political naivity. Firsty, there's the bit about "A vote for it is
not a vote to rush to war". Then there's the 2004 statement that "I don't
understand how they had such an unrealistic view of what was going to
happen." Finally, "we should expect him [i.e. Mr Bush] to extricate our
country from this before he leaves office." But beyond that, in essence, a
very simple idea - the idea that the government of Iraq constituted a direct
threat to the United States at the time.


The years have passed so quickly
One thing I've understood
I am only learning
To tell the trees from the wood

I know what's coming down
And I know where it's coming from
And I know and I'm sorry (yes I am)
But I never could speak my mind

And I know just how you feel
And I know now, what I have done
And I know, and I'm guilty (yes I am)
But I never could read your mind

I know what I was missing
But now my eyes can see
I put myself in your place
As you did for me

- John Lennon, I Know (I know), from the album "Mind Games" (1973)

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