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Obama Foreign Policy Too...Conservative?

12:48 PM, Jun 19, 2008 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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That's the claim of an email I just received from the misnamed Institute for Public Accuracy. The email attacks many of Barack Obama's foreign policy advisers for their alleged militarism and service in the Clinton administration. It's mostly worth ignoring, but a couple of the entries stood out.

One of the key talking points to emerge from the Obama campaign in the recent skirmishing on national security concerns John McCain's support for the Iraq War. "The case for war in Iraq was so thin that George Bush and John McCain had to hype the threat of Saddam Hussein, and make false promises that we'd be greeted as liberators," Obama said yesterday. "They misled the American people, and took us into a misguided war."

Obama wants voters to believe that such deception and poor judgment means John McCain should not be president. But he doesn't seem to mind that several of his top advisers said the same things and were every bit as unequivocal in their claims about Saddam Hussein as McCain or George W. Bush. The IPA release highlights comments from Susan Rice and Tim Roemer.

Rice: "I think he [then Secretary of State Colin Powell] has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don't think many informed people doubted that." (NPR, Feb. 6, 2003) And: "It's clear that Iraq poses a major threat. It's clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that's the path we're on. I think the question becomes whether we can keep the diplomatic balls in the air and not drop any, even as we move forward, as we must, on the military side." (NPR, Dec. 20, 2002) And: "I think the United States government has been clear since the first Bush administration about the threat that Iraq and Saddam Hussein poses. The United States policy has been regime change for many, many years, going well back into the Clinton administration. So it's a question of timing and tactics. ... We do not necessarily need a further Council resolution before we can enforce this and previous resolutions. (NPR, Nov. 11, 2002)

In October 2002, Roemer, according the release, called the threat from Saddam Hussein "grave and growing" and declared that it was a threat that had to be met in "the not-too-distant-future."

The release neglects to mention John Kerry, who has been on Obama campaign conference calls each of the past two weeks and is reportedly under consideration as Obama's runningmate. (UPDATE: Kerry will be on another conference call this afternoon.) Was he, too, hyping the threat from Saddam Hussein? Did he mislead the American people when he said, in October 2002:

It would be naive to the point of grave danger not to believe that, left to his own devices, Saddam Hussein will provoke, misjudge, or stumble into a future, more dangerous confrontation with the civilized world. He has as much as promised it.


In 1991, the world collectively made a judgment that this man should not have weapons of mass destruction. And we are here today in the year 2002 with an uninspected 4-year interval during which time we know through intelligence he not only has kept them, but he continues to grow them.


I believe the record of Saddam Hussein's ruthless, reckless breach of international values and standards of behavior which is at the core of the cease-fire agreement, with no reach, no stretch, is cause enough for the world community to hold him accountable by use of force, if necessary. The threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real, but as I said, it is not new. It has been with us since the end of that war, and particularly in the last 4 years we know after Operation Desert Fox failed to force him to reaccept them, that he has continued to build those weapons.