Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant

It's perhaps a bit late at this point to address the Iraq question in a way that will affect the election; Obama's constant refrain of "you voted for the war" should have been addressed and put to rest months ago. Nonetheless, I naively propose that something along the lines of what follows may have been an appropriate response. It would be nice to hear something like this at tonight's debate, though foreign policy isn't the topic:

"When the decision that led to the Iraq invasion was made in the Senate, we were working with certain information. Some of it was better than others, but we're not issued crystal balls when we're sworn in and it isn't always easy to determine the best intelligence. The overwhelming majority of Senators, including many with vastly more foreign policy experience than my opponent, agreed with this decision at the time.

Once we were in it, we were able to get a better view of the whole situation and some of us, hindsight being 20/20, concluded that the whole adventure had been a huge mistake; that we had been 'scammed' by the administration. But the fact remains that in 2003 we had already been in a low-level war with the Sadaam Hussein regime for the previous decade and we did not know for sure what he might do. While mistakes were made going in and more mistakes were made in prosecuting the war, which is not to be unexpected given that people are fallible, the end result has been the removal of a genocidal regime and the first real chance in half a century for Iraqis to live in a free society.

It is easy to judge what has happened; it is far harder to say what might have been. It is possible that with more intelligence than we had in 2003 we might have chosen not to invade. But who knows what might have followed that decision? It is extremely likely that Sadaam Hussein or his sons might still be in power, still terrorizing his own people and posing a threat to other nations, and we would in addition be dealing with insurgencies in Afghanistan and impending nukes in Iran. Whatever paths we might have taken in the past, we took the one we did and the eventual result may well be positive for the Iraqi people. We cannot say whether another course of action would ultimately have been positive, or a complete disaster.

We should conscientiously work for continued progress in Iraq, not abandon the country before they are able to stand alone. Let the record show that I called for the change in prosecution of this war that ultimately led to success and safety for the majority of Iraq's population. Let it also show that I, unlike my opponent, have consistently opposed abandoning the innocent civilians of Iraq to the bloodbath that would have ensued had we left when he first called for us to do so.

Now, I'd like to move to matters I can control and discuss how my opponent and myself plan to deal with the difficult decisions that lie before us..."

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