Senator v. President Obama on War and Peace
by Stephen Lendman
All politicians lie. It goes with the territory. Obama honed his skills to a fine art. He’s a serial liar. He’s a con man. He says one thing. He does another. He’s done it throughout his political career.
In 1996, he was elected Illinois’ 13th district senator. In 1998 and 2002, he was reelected. He lost his 2000 US House bid.
From 2004 – 2008, he was Illinois’ junior senator. On January 4, 2005, he ranked 99th out of 100 senators in seniority. Four years later he was president.
In October 2002, he addressed the impending Iraq war. “I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances,” he said.
“The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil.”
“I don’t oppose all wars. My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army.”
“He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil.”
“After September 11, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again.”
I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.”
“What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.”
“What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.”
“That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.”
“Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power.”
“The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.”
“But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.”
“I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.”
“I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.”
“I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars. So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president.”
“You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure that we vigorously enforce a nonproliferation treaty.”
“Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality.”
“Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.”
Let’s fight against “ignorance intolerance, corruption, greed, poverty and despair.”
“The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war.”
“But we ought not – we will not – travel down that hellish path blindly.”
“Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.”
Obama’s more demagogue than democrat. His Senate voting record supported wealth, power and privilege. He opposed progressive change. He backed defense appropriations for war.
He voted to reauthorize Patriot Act repression. He campaigned for neocon Joe Lieberman over anti-war candidate Ned Lamont.
He supported aggressive war on Afghanistan and Iraq. He advocated 100,000 more combat troops. He did so at a time America has no enemies except ones it invents.
He one-sidedly supported Israel’s worst crimes. He still does. He favored destabilizing Iran. He backed Bush’s war on public education.
He supported healthcare providers in wrongful injury cases. He voted to let mining companies strip mine everywhere.
He favored expanded nuclear power, lax industry regulation, billions in subsidies, and other taxpayer funded benefits.
He supported GMO food proliferation, harmful biofuel production and other agribusiness interests.
He opposed universal single-payer healthcare. He backed unfair “free trade” legislation, repressive immigration laws, militarized borders, and police state raids, roundups, imprisonments and deportations.
He voted for military tribunals, preventive detentions and torture prisons. He supported intrusive NSA spying. He did so long before Edward Snowden’s revelations.
At the same time, he rhetorically lied saying he opposed “excessive secrecy, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping, and enhanced interrogation techniques like simulated drowning that qualify as torture through any careful measure of the law or appeal to human decency.”
As president he continued these and other odious practices.
He voted to approve the worst of Bush’s appointments. They included John Negroponte for Director of National Intelligence, Michael Chertoff for Secretary of Homeland Security, Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State, and Robert Gates for Defense Secretary.
He backed the repressive 2007 Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. It passed in the House. It failed in the Senate.
He opposed impeaching Bush and Cheney. He was against prosecuting CIA torturers.
He supported war. He opposed peace. He’s done so throughout his political career. He claims otherwise. He lied like he always does.
His voting record was pro-war, pro-business, pro-privilege, pro-super wealth, anti-dissent, anti-democracy, anti-freedom, anti-civil and human rights, anti-environmental sanity, and anti-government of, by and for everyone equitable.
He campaigned promising change you can believe in.
As president, he supported same old, same old and then some. He reflects the worst of rogue leadership. He belongs in prison, not high office.
At the August 2008 Democrat National Convention, he said:
“As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.”
“I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.”
On January 31, 2008, he said:
“We have spent billions of dollars, lost thousands of lives. Thousands more have been maimed and injured as a consequence and are going to have difficulty putting their lives back together again.”
“This has undermined our security. In the meantime, Afghanistan has slid into more chaos than existed before we went into Iraq.”
On December 20, 2007, he said he would not act on war and peace contrary to limits Congress imposes.
On June 3, 2007, he said:
“We live in a more dangerous world, partly as a consequence of Bush’s actions, primarily because of this war in Iraq that should have never been authorized or waged.”
A number of times he claimed support for political, not military, solutions. He called war on Iraq a “waste of precious resources.”
He said waging it made America less safe. It was a “strategic blunder,” he added. He called claims about Saddam providing WMDs to terrorists “simply not true.”
On December 20, 2007, he said:
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
“It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.”
On October 12, 2004, he said WMDs in Iraq don’t exist. On July 12, 2004, he urged engaging North Korea in constructive six-party talks.
At the same time, he said America should use its “moral authority and credibility to help achieve Middle East peace.”
His Senate voting record supported war. On November 11, 2007, he lied claiming otherwise.
He tried having things both ways. He called himself “a constant (war) critic.” At the same time, he preferred not ending conflicts “simply by cutting off funding.”
In June, Obama told Berliners: “We must move beyond the mindset of perpetual war.” He said one thing. He planned another.
A Final Comment
In 2007, Joe Biden said:
“The president has no constitutional authority to take this country to war unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked.”
He called unilateral presidential warmaking “an impeachable offense.”
In April 2010, John Kerry met with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. He engaged him in constructive dialogue.
He said both countries shared “a mutual interest in having a very frank exchange on any differences that may exist, but also on the many, many agreements that we have about the possibilities of peace in this region.”
“The real challenge is not deciding whether to engage – it will be in finding a viable path to improved relations.”
On June 5, 2008, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel headlined their Wall Street Journal op-ed “It’s Time to Talk to Syria,” saying:
“Syria’s leaders have always made cold calculations in the name of self-preservation, and history shows that intensive diplomacy can pay off.”
“Promoting peace between (Israel) and its neighbors has always been a bipartisan cornerstone of our foreign policy.”
“Syria views peace talks with Israel as part of a broader rapprochement with America, and its strong desire for US involvement can work to our advantage.”
“Cooperation with Syria rests not on shared values, but on shared interests.”
“(D)ialogue with Syria is the best hope for” regional peace.
That was then. This is now. Obama, Biden, Kerry, Hagel, and other political hawks support war, not peace. It’s imminent. Expect it any time. It’s based on lies.
Initiating it threatens world peace. Advancing America’s imperium alone matters. It’s longstanding US policy.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.