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Byron Williams Headshot

It's Not Just George Bush's War

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In the midst of what was otherwise an uneventful Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Hillary Clinton uttered the most profound statement in that it was so superficial.

In cased you missed it, John Edwards assailed Sens. Clinton and Obama for what he perceived to be a lack of leadership on the recent Iraq war spending bill. Obama wasted little time responding to Edwards' charge by reminding Edwards that while he was in the senate voting for the war, Obama was on record in opposition.

Clinton, eagerly opting for the moral high ground, stated: "I think it's important particularly to point out, this is George Bush's war -- he is responsible for the war." She added, "He started the war. He escalated the war. And he refuses to end the war."

In the linear strict constructionist worldview where the colors vary only between black and white, it would be difficult to argue against Clinton's point. But there are other colors to factor such as red and green, which represent the nation's blood and treasure, rendering Clinton's observation at best overly simplistic, at worst condescending.

Clinton seems committed to tread a road hardly reminiscent of a path to success nor does it represent the type of leadership that America so desperately needs going forward.

It stopped being exclusively George Bush's war when the House voted 296-133 and the Senate 77-23 in favor of providing the president with the authorization to use force against Iraq. I would agree that some are more to blame than others but for Clinton to suggest that this was George Bush's war alone assumes that she bears no responsibility.

One need only go the March 6, 2003 Youtube footage and hear Clinton telling the anti-war group Code Pink, "I ended up voting for the resolution after carefully reviewing the information and intelligence that I had available."

But it would appear the information that was available to Clinton in all likelihood did not include the National Intelligence Estimate. According to the New York Times Magazine, Clinton was specifically asked in New Hampshire earlier this year had she read the N.I.E., before voting to authorize the president to use force against Iraq, to which Clinton responded that she was briefed on it.

That response is problematic because outside of few select senatorial committees, none of which Clinton belonged at the time, only the senators themselves had access to the N.I.E. report.

So persuasive was the N.I.E. that former Sen. Bob Graham, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, voted against the war resolution in part because of the doubts the report raised. The Times also reported that Graham urged his Democratic colleagues to read the 90-page report before casting such a crucial vote. According to Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), only six senators read it.

Even if Clinton had read the N.I.E. and she along with all of her Democratic colleagues voted against the resolution, it would still not be solely George Bush's war. Once our troops touch foreign soil there is no longer any party affiliation.

Given the death, the carnage, the number of Iraqi professionals that flee the country each month, the use of torture, and the loss of America's global credibility, the constitutionally mandated steps that led to preemptively invading Iraq are further proof that this is the worse foreign policy decision in the history of the republic. Will America no longer be despised the moment Bush leaves office?

It may be red meat for the Democratic faithful to exclusively put the blame on Bush, but it is historically dishonest.

Though Clinton may be quick to assume the role in the debate of the conciliatory figure that wants her party to remain focused on the real problem, she is somewhat lethargic when it comes to examining her contributions to the quagmire.

This is America's war; the president and the Congress saw to that. Anyone who fails to comprehend this point, regardless of their participation or lack thereof in its inception, immediately disqualifies himself or herself as worthy to lead the country at a time such as this.