Sunday, February 24, 2008

Why Hillary Clinton’s Iraq Vote Matters

by Stephen Zunes
Common Dreams News Center
February 23, 2008

In response to a series of articles in recent months regarding the foreign policy positions of Senator Hillary Clinton - in which, among other things, I have emphasized her October 2002 vote authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq - I have received comments such as the following:

“The only mistake Hillary made was to believe what the President told her and that Dubya would not lie about such a national matter involving the military. She chose to believe what he said and the intel presented to her -as did so many others on both sides of the political aisle…. GET OVER IT! It is water under the bridge…”


In reality, however, Hillary Clinton’s decision to vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq in fact is of critical importance and should disqualify her - along with Senator John McCain, who also voted in favor of the war resolution - from ever becoming president.

There have been many tragic consequences of the war for which Senator Clinton and others who made it possible should be held accountable: the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and the tens of thousands permanently wounded; the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed; the hundreds of billions of dollars drained from our national treasury; the social, economic and environmental damage inflicted upon Iraq; the misallocation of human and material resources away from real strategic threats; and, the resulting growth in Islamic extremism and anti-Americanism which will threaten our national security for decades to come .

More importantly, however, is what the decision says about Hillary Clinton’s world view:

Contempt for International Law...

Contempt for the Truth...

Contempt for Good Judgment...

[read more here]

The 2002 vote authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq was not like the vote on the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution on the use of force against North Vietnam, for which Congress had no time for hearings or debate and for which most of those supporting it (mistakenly) thought they were simply authorizing limited short-term retaliatory strikes in response to a specific series of alleged incidents. By contrast, prior to her vote in support of the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, Senator Clinton had many months to investigate the administration’s claims that Iraq was a threat as well as the likely implications of a U.S. invasion. She also surely recognized that the resolution authorized a full-scale invasion of a sovereign nation and a subsequent military occupation of an indefinite period.

In voting to authorize the invasion of Iraq, then, Senator Clinton has offered a clear demonstration of how she would approach international affairs and security policy:

* the United States need not abide by its international legal obligations, including those prohibiting wars of aggression;

* claims by right-wing Republican officials and unreliable foreign exiles regarding a foreign government’s military capabilities are a more legitimate basis for analyzing possible security threats than are empirical studies by independent arms control analysts and United Nations inspectors;

*concerns expressed by scholars and others knowledgeable of the likely reaction by the subjected population to a foreign conquest and the likely complications that would result should be ignored and faith should instead be placed on the occupation policies forcibly imposed upon that population by a corrupt right-wing Republican administration.

There are also a number of reasons to suspect that, if elected president, Senator Clinton could lead the United States into yet another disastrous war:

* she has refused to apologize for her vote to authorize the invasion, indicating her willingness to support another aggressive war in the future

* she has repeatedly threatened the use of military force against Iran and voted in favor the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which many fear the administration could use as justification for launching military action against that country

* just as she falsely claimed Iraq had a nuclear weapons program back in 2002, she also falsely claimed just last year that Iran had a nuclear weapons program, even though International Atomic Energy Agency and independent arms control specialists at that time, as well as a subsequent NIE report, indicated that this was untrue

As a result, Senator Clinton’s October 2002 vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq is not simply “water under the bridge.” It is very relevant and says a lot about what kind of president she would be.

© Copyrighted 2008 www.commondreams.org

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