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Old 07-23-2008, 01:02 PM  
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War and peace and the Democrats

War and peace and the Democrats: The triumph of politics over national interest

http://www.examiner.com/a-1496303~Wa..._interest.html



WASHINGTON (Map, News) - There was a time when Democrats spoke plainly and consistently about matters of war and peace. During the first half of the Cold War, their position was clear -- they would “bear any burden” (John Kennedy’s words) to prosecute it. During the second half of the Cold War, chastened by Vietnam, their position was equally clear -- no more Vietnams.

When this semipacifist position helped produce four lopsided defeats in five presidential elections, the party’s most savvy figures began to doubt the virtue, not of the position but of the clarity. The trick became finding a way to appeal to both the party’s leftist base and the more hawkish centrists, including Reagan Democrats, who kept electing Republican presidents. This meant talking out of both sides of the mouth.

Bill Clinton led the way. In 1991, Clinton was asked where he stood on the Senate resolution to authorize war with Iraq. He responded that he would have voted in favor of authorizing war if the vote was close, but thought that the anti-war side had the better arguments. For Clinton, then, politics trumped policy even when it came to putting our men and women in harm’s way.

As a U.S. senator, Al Gore lacked the luxury of taking both sides, and Clinton’s fellow “new Democrat” had quite a tough time making up his mind. Indeed, Gore reportedly negotiated with floor leaders on both sides concerning the time slot for his speech on the resolution. In the end, Gore voted in favor of authorizing the war. He spoke in prime time.

After nominating Clinton or Gore in three straight elections, the Democrats seemed finally to have nominated a foreign policy plain speaker in 2004. John Kerry was the original “no more Vietnams” Democrat who, since his return from that country 35 years earlier, had consistently opposed the projection of U.S. military power. Yet in the cauldron of presidential politics, the temptation to have it both ways proved irresistible. Thus, Kerry famously voted to authorize the second war with Iraq before he voted against it.

This year the Democrats have nominated another war and peace prevaricator. And they have outdone themselves. Clinton, Gore and Kerry took only two positions each on Iraq. As Peter Wehner has documented, Obama has held nearly every possible position.

Before the war, Obama opposed military action in Iraq. It was in his political interest to do so. As Obama’s Senate campaign manager has acknowledged, to win the Democratic race for the Senate nomination, Obama needed to become the darling of the left.

In his autobiography, Obama wrote that, as he watched footage of the toppling of Saddam’s statue in Baghdad, he “began to suspect” he had been wrong about the war. Yet Obama managed to keep these suspicions to himself until he captured the Democratic Senate nomination.

Immediately thereafter, in April 2004, Obama said of Iraq, “we’ve got to make sure that we secure and execute the rebuilding and reconstruction process effectively and properly, and I don’t think we should have an artificial deadline when to do that.” At the time, Obama’s friend and financial backer, the corrupt Tony Rezko, was seeking multimillion-dollar contracts to build and operate a power plant in Iraq.

In July 2004, Obama went so far as to say, “There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage.” By September 2004, Obama was declaring that to pull out of Iraq “would make things worse” and that therefore he “would be willing to send more soldiers to Iraq if it is part of a strategy that the president and military leaders believe will stabilize the country.”

In 2005, however, Obama’s position evolved again. He argued that instead of sending more soldiers to Iraq, we should reduce, but not fully withdraw, our troop presence. By 2006, with the war increasingly unpopular and a possible presidential run in his future, Obama argued in favor of a phased full-scale withdrawal. In September 2007, Obama insisted that the withdrawal begin immediately.

We’ve seen further “refinement” in 2008 as Obama prepared to face the entire electorate. Thus, Obama promised to keep a “strike force” in Iraq even after our “withdrawal,” though he repudiated that pledge (and denied having made it) when it drew criticism. Meanwhile, Samantha Power, a top Obama foreign policy adviser, offered assurances that his promise to withdraw in 16 months was subject to change based on the situation on the ground.

Speaking of the situation on the ground, folks began to notice that Obama had not been to Iraq in two and half years. The candidate thus announced that he would visit Iraq and, while there, perform “a thorough assessment” and “continue to refine” his policy.” When this promised flexibility upset the left, Obama quickly called a news conference to explain that his visit to Iraq would not alter the 16-month timetable. Yet during the same press conference, Obama declared that this timeline could slip, since “I have always said ... I would always reserve the right to do what’s best.”

Then there was the matter of the troop surge. The night President Bush announced it, Obama opined that nothing in the plan would “make a significant dent in the sectarian violence.” But after the surge accomplished this and more, Obama insisted that he had always known that adding troops would tamp down the violence. Anyone can be wrong about whether a military operation will succeed or fail, but an honest person cannot be wrong about whether he predicted success or failure.

Barack Obama insists, quite correctly, that his patriotism cannot be judged by whether he wears an American flag lapel pin. But it’s fair enough to measure a politician’s patriotism by whether his positions on crucial questions of war and peace are based on the national interest, not which election the politician has his eyes on. By this standard, recent Democratic presidential nominees, and especially Obama, do not fare well.
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Old 07-23-2008, 01:56 PM   #2
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Old 07-23-2008, 02:00 PM   #3
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We've already had this conversation like 8 times on this forum.

By the way, someone explain to me what "semipacifist" means, and why I should care.
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Old 07-23-2008, 02:21 PM   #4
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It seems like both parties are guilty of putting politics in front of what is best for the country, regardless of the topic.
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Old 07-23-2008, 02:23 PM   #5
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It seems like both parties are guilty of putting politics in front of what is best for the country, regardless of the topic.
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:41 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
By the way, someone explain to me what "semipacifist" means, and why I should care.
i think it means he can't decide if he's a pacifist or not.

or, maybe it means he's a pacifist but doesn't want to look like one once primary season is over?
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:56 AM   #7
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Straight out of the Republican "black or white" textbook. No shades of gray allowed. Either you're a lily-livered pacifist or an enthusiastic warmonger. How ridiculous.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:11 AM   #8
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Straight out of the Republican "black or white" textbook. No shades of gray allowed. Either you're a lily-livered pacifist or an enthusiastic warmonger. How ridiculous.
i dont think the article is defining him as anything. he's defined and redefined himself depending on the season.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:51 AM   #9
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i dont think the article is defining him as anything. he's defined and redefined himself depending on the season.
I was referring to the tone of the article, which doesn't really allow for different circumstances as a possibility of why you might be for military action or a particular tactic in one situation and not in another.
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:56 AM   #10
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I was referring to the tone of the article, which doesn't really allow for different circumstances as a possibility of why you might be for military action or a particular tactic in one situation and not in another.
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Old 07-24-2008, 12:03 PM   #11
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I was referring to the tone of the article, which doesn't really allow for different circumstances as a possibility of why you might be for military action or a particular tactic in one situation and not in another.
I agree, the circumstances explain his whirlwind of positions on Iraq. The circumstances being, whatever he felt was most beneficial at the time.
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Old 07-24-2008, 12:48 PM   #12
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i dont think the article is defining him as anything. he's defined and redefined himself depending on the season.
Rather a well educated man capable of changing his mind instead of an alcoholic, stubborn present President or an old stiff minded codger. It is his willingness to entertain negotiation and peace, instead of dictating terms with our armies lives, that makes him acceptable. You have made my case.
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