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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, October 03, 2003


I'm not buying "Not This War"

I need to blog today. I've had a crappy week, I'm tired, I'm frustrated, and I have mounds of other stuff to do. But I need to blog today.

My subject of choice is something that's been bugging the hell out of me for some time: John Kerry's vote on the Iraq War Resolution and his subsequent attempts to explain why he voted for it:
"I voted for the resolution to provide the President with the credible threat-force which I believe the President has to have," Kerry said, but added that he had presumed that Bush would respect multilateral institutions like the United Nations and would work with the world rather than going it alone.
Now, I will happily admit that the sum total of my foreign policy experience is limited to some very relaxing time on a Mexican beach every couple of years, and that my military and diplomatic credentials begin and end with a high-school addiction to the game Diplomacy. I've got nothing on John Kerry. Nothing. And I have even less on Wes Clark, who in the last couple of weeks seems to have aligned himself with Kerry's position.

The venerable Josh Marshall, who seems to be firmly in the Clark camp now, writes that "the heart of the matter [is] the difference between thinking that this war was ill-conceived and poorly planned (which I think is Clark's position) and being 'anti-war' in the sense of some broader political ethic." Marshall complains that some people--notably media watchdogs FAIR--see only this dichotomy, without any acknowledgement that there can be a third (or fourth or fifth) way about it.

But what Josh doesn't quite get is that it's not at all about being pro-Iraq war vs. being a pacifist. Dennis Kucinich is probaly the only true pacifist in this race, and the number of true pacifists in the Democratic party is probably not much bigger than the number of DK supporters. No, the real issue is the vote. Period.

Joe Lieberman has been prattering on for a long time now about how the Iraq war is a "just war," and Edwards refuses to discuss his vote. Gephardt, of course, sold out Daschle and the Senate Dems there in the Rose Garden. Those three seem to be fully on the one side of that vote.

Dean, Kucinich, Sharpton, Moseley Braun, and the (departing?) Bob Graham have all been consistently against waging this war. That's the other side of the vote. (I know DK and Graham are the only ones of those actually to vote on it.)

But Kerry and Clark now seem to want to populate the middle, saying that a yes vote in October 2002 was the only way to go, since without it, there would have been no likelihood of a peaceful solution. I say that's bunk. Why? Simple:

You cannot give a lighter to an arsonist and expect him not to start a fire!

They had to have known that Bush would go to war. Unquestionably, they had to know. I mean, I knew, and, as I said, I don't have squat in the experience department.

And Clark! My god, if he's the modern war genius his supporters claim, he must have been daft to think that Bush would not take the blank check right down the street to the liquor store.

Most other presidents? Sure, they may have acted responsibly. This one? No. And I'm not just saying that because I have a visceral reaction when I see him or hear him or think about him. The Bush administration established early on in his term a pattern of idiocy, of disregarding the international community (even after 9/11!), and of unabashed militarism. They spent the summer of 2002 talking about "march to war, march to war," while stepping up attacks in the no-fly zone and building new bases (thanks, Brown & Root!) all over the middle east to accomodate the troops that they knew, well before October, would be taking out Saddam.

Know what really gets me about Clark's position? He knew since the morning of September 11 that the administration wanted to go after Iraq. Whether or not the phone call he got that day was from the White House, it still should have been obvious--like, written across the sky in big letters obvious--that there was no stopping the march to war in Iraq.

No stopping it, that is, except for Congress. Yet, they voted to give that lighter to that arsonist. Now, who do we blame for starting the fire?

ADDITIONAL READING:
I tried to find a way to work this in above, but Matt Langer over at Untelevised has a good take on this, too. He writes, in part, "the moderate Democratic support of multilateral invasion is easily pidgeonholed into the position of tacitly endorsing the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive strike, perhaps the most horrific result of the post-Sept 11 world. The natural defense to this accusation would be to bring up the continued Iraqi violation of a handful of UN resolutions, but this doesn't explain the pressing imminence that the situation in Iraq developed seemingly overnight. And regardless of the aforesaid resolutions, any invasion of Iraq - even a UN-sanctioned one - that was not in response to an aggressive action would have been inherently unjust and a gross violation of international sovereignty."

You go, Matt.

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