Wednesday, October 08, 2008


(Debate transcript found at Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD)

Senator Obama said last night, regarding national security:

I don't understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, while Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us.

That was Senator McCain's judgment and it was the wrong judgment.

When Senator McCain was cheerleading the president to go into Iraq, he suggested it was going to be quick and easy, we'd be greeted as liberators.


And the strains that have been placed on our alliances around the world and the respect that's been diminished over the last eight years has constrained us being able to act on something like the genocide in Darfur, because we don't have the resources or the allies to do everything that we should be doing.
Obama echoes the key disagreement that the Democratic Party has had with the invasion of Iraq since Day 1 - that it had nothing to do with 9/11, that there was no connection between Iraq and global Islamic terrorism, that it wasn't in our national security interests, and that it did nothing but inflame opinions of the US and its policies throughout the Middle East and around the world.

While those points are still in contention on both sides, he also doesn't seem to want to admit that what we did did some good for the Iraqi people. That they are undoubtedly, undeniably incalculably better off now than when they were under the regime of Saddam Hussein. We all know the things Saddam did, to his own people and to his enemies. We know the kind of country he ran, the ways he controlled his populace. We know what a place Iraq was like for years and years before we went in and liberated the country. So how can one equate Obama's previous statements with what he said just after?

When asked about what his approach to an "Obama Doctrine" might be in regards to using military force to solve humanitarian crises with no national security implications, he said:

Well, we may not always have national security issues at stake, but we have moral issues at stake.

If we could have intervened effectively in the Holocaust, who among us would say that we had a moral obligation not to go in?

If we could've stopped Rwanda, surely, if we had the ability, that would be something that we would have to strongly consider and act.

So when genocide is happening, when ethnic cleansing is happening somewhere around the world and we stand idly by, that diminishes us.

And so I do believe that we have to consider it as part of our interests, our national interests, in intervening where possible.

But understand that there's a lot of cruelty around the world. We're not going to be able to be everywhere all the time. That's why it's so important for us to be able to work in concert with our allies.

Let's take the example of Darfur just for a moment. Right now there's a peacekeeping force that has been set up and we have African Union troops in Darfur to stop a genocide that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

We could be providing logistical support, setting up a no-fly zone at relatively little cost to us, but we can only do it if we can help mobilize the international community and lead. And that's what I intend to do when I'm president.

That's going to change when I'm president, but we can't change it unless we fundamentally change Senator McCain's and George Bush's foreign policy. It has not worked for America.
That is exactly what we did in Iraq. There was a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of a dictator exacting cruel treatment and subjugation on the people of his country. It's still the same kind of situation that exists or existed during the Holocaust, in Darfur, in Kosovo, in Rwanda... The people may be different, the situations may be different, but when bad people are preying on good people and when innocent people are caught in the crossfire between warring factions that don't care who they hurt, that's when the US has historically intervened.

And Obama agrees with that policy, as he should. As we all should. But for some reason, it doesn't apply when considering Iraq - the past, present and future.

Millions of Iraqi civilians - Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Kurds, and others - were in dire need of humanitarian intervention. The US did, and rid them of their oppressive government. No, we may not have been cheered in the streets as valient liberators, but I have no doubts that the people that it mattered to the most, the ones in the most desperate of straits, were very happy Saddam was gone.

Now, the intervening years of security and rebuilding have undoubtedly been a mess but that has nothing to do with the initial action of intervention that Obama advocates for other places around the world, but does not allow for Iraq.

In fact, it's not even Obama's fault, really. I don't blame him for having this position. It's the common position of the Democratic Party that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake (see his list of reasons above). The Democractic Party has, from March 2002 onward, opposed everything President Bush has done in Iraq. They've done everything they could, from protests to talk shows to blogs to national campaigns to make their opinion known, the opinion that it was all wrong. Was it purely our a disbelief in all the reasons for the invasion - national security, terrorism, WMD's, liberation, humanitarian, etc? No, I really don't think it was.

I think they opposed him, as a group, for one reason and one reason only - the fact that they didn't believe he was elected president legitimately. That he and the Republican Party stole the 2000 election from Al Gore and the Democratic Party. And that he should be punished for it, and that his presidency and all the decisions he makes should be marginalized as much as possible.

Listen, I was as upset as anyone about Al Gore losing. I thought the whole result of the election was bogus, myself. I think Gore should've been president in 2000, not Bush. But to oppose the policies, and the man, because of the result of that election has bought this nation six years of domestic turmoil and conflict that have done more to harm us, overall, than 9/11 did (emotionally). I have no doubt there are Democrats that do oppose the war under pacifistic, legal, and other reasons - and there some legitimate arguments to be made - but the overwhelming evidence -- and Obama agrees with the reasonings for humanitarian intervention, but refuses to apply them in Iraq - suggests what was done was the right thing.

Obama will not admit this, because the Democrats won't admit it. And they won't take responsibility for the disruption that their opposition to Iraq has caused this country for six years because they can't let go of that resentment and anger. That's what caused me to turn away from the Democratic Party and become an Independent. I surely can't embrace the Republican conservative ideology, and the liberal philosophy still resonates with me much more than any other. But as a matter of public policy and practical application, it has been misapplied.

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