President Bush set the stage with the pending "strategic surge" of 20,000 - 30,000 troops into Iraq. The surge in troops means a surge in American and Iraqi casualties. The surge in troops means that we will be refereeing an Iraqi civil war well into 2008. Stay the course in a quagmire, and you stay in the quagmire. The Iraq war will determine the selection of our next President. For the 2008 election, we'll be looking for candidates who inspire confidence in their war making decisions. Which begs the question: Why wouldn't we elect a President in 2008, who was right about Iraq in 2003?
Most of the candidates, declared or not, had an opportunity to demonstrate their war decision skills in 2002 and 2003. We are looking for more than a simple tally of how the candidates voted on the "Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq" in October, 2002. There were many good reasons to vote for that resolution, including a reasonable hope that it would lead to a negotiated settlement with Saddam and/or stimulate additional action out of the UN. More important than the vote, is what the candidates said or did not say in the six months before the war started. Ambiguity -or- lack of clarity -or- absence of a publicly stated position -or- political waffling on the war in the crucial six months is (IMHO) automatic disqualification to be elected President in 2008.
The first and foremost criteria for a 2008 presidential candidate, is a correct public position on the war - before the war - in 02 and 03. For DWSUWF, and all fellow "divided government" travelers, for all the reasons outlined in "2008 - Check your assumptions" , the candidate is also a republican as a republican president will be needed to maintain a divided government state beyond 2008. While this critieria does limit our choices, it still offers a very good choice, perhaps the very best choice:
Over the next few days, this post will be expanded to amplify the quotes in the video, including additional quotes, additional candidates, and supporting source links for the quotes in the video.
UPDATE / AMPLIFICATION: 26-January-2007
Republican Candidates - Pre-war Quotes, Citations
Republican Candidates - Pre-war Quotes, Citations
"I have a very strong view that it's imperative that we remove Saddam Hussein and do away with his regime ... You have to take pre- emptive action. As time goes by, Saddam Hussein will become more and more dangerous."
"The Right War for the Right Reasons" 12-March-03
"Many critics suggest that disarming Iraq through regime change would not result in an improved peace. There are risks in this endeavor, to be sure. But no one can plausibly argue that ridding the world of Saddam Hussein will not significantly improve the stability of the region and the security of American interests and values... Isn't it more likely that antipathy toward the United States in the Islamic world might diminish amid the demonstrations of jubilant Iraqis celebrating the end of a regime that has few equals in its ruthlessness? Wouldn't people subjected to brutal governments be encouraged to see the human rights of Muslims valiantly secured by Americans -- rights that are assigned rather cheap value by the critics' definition of justice?"
"Replace Hussein or risk an American city" 12-May-2002
"It is much safer to stop Hussein now before he completes his weapons program. If he is no longer in power and Iraq is no longer developing weapons of mass destruction then we will clearly have no danger of losing an American city to a weapon from that source. There are other sources but they are not as advanced and not as dangerous as Hussein. Furthermore, replacing Hussein would likely convince some of those sources to give up their programs rather than face similar pre-emption by the Americans... What right do we have to pre-empt? We have the basic right of survival... We are going to insist that dictators not threaten Americans. If they do so, they should know that we would probably move to replace the regime rather than wait for it to destroy an American city. I am not prepared to test Hussein's sincerity by waiting to lose a city. I would rather be cautious and prudent by replacing his regime. It is just that clear."
"Face the Nation" transcript 5-September-2004
"I believe it is unequivocally a necessary war... imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein was still trying to get weapons; imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein was still paying $25,000 per suicide bomber; imagine a world in which terrorists were still active, trying to organize themselves in Baghdad... I think that would be a much more dangerous world than where we are now."
Landon Lecture at Kansas State University
"As we consider our next steps in Iraq, we cannot lose sight of the wider lens view of what is before us, that this is about much more than Iraq. We are setting the tone for Americas's role in the world for the next decade and beyond. At this critical time, our policies and our rhetoric should not create distance between America and her allies. If that is the price of waging war in Iraq, then victory, in the long run, in the war on terrorism, in the Middle East, on the Korean peninsula, and against weapons of mass destruction, will not be ours."
"Today, America stands nearly alone in proclaiming the urgency of the use of force to disarm Saddam Hussein. In Europe and in many corners of the globe, America is perceived as determined to use force in Iraq to the exclusion of world opinion or the interests of our allies, even those allies who share our concerns about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs. America must balance its determination with patience and not be seen as in a rush to war."
"The diplomatic challenges before us should not weaken our resolve to obtain a second UN resolution that threatens serious consequences for Iraq's continued defiance of UN resolutions. While time may be short, the diplomatic option has not yet played out. it will take more hard work, and the military option should remain on the table. The world has additional time, and we should not short-circuit what has begun through legitimate United Nations channels. This responsible course will maximize the force of world opinion and bring it to our side."
"Iraq cannot be considered in a vacuum, detached from the politics and culture of both its region and the Muslim world. Using military force to disarm Saddam Hussein will bring change to Iraq and to the region, but we cannot foresee the nature of that change. What comes after Saddam Hussein? The uncertainties of a post-Saddam, post-conflict Middle East should give us pause, encourage prudence, and force us to recognize the necessity of coalitions in seeing it through."
"A conspicuous American occupation force in Iraq or in any Arab or Muslim country would only fuel anti-Americanism, nationalism and resentment. By working through the United Nations, America will neutralize the accusations that a war in Iraq is anti-Muslim or driven by oil or American imperialism."
"What distinguishes America is not our power, for the world has known great power. It is America's purpose and our commitment to making a better life for all people. That is the America the world needs to see. A wise, thoughtful and steady nation, worthy of its power, generous of spirit, and humble in its purpose."
Pre - 2003
Huh? Are you talking to me? What was the question again?
Democratic Candidates - Pre-war Quotes, Citations
Democratic Candidates - Pre-war Quotes, Citations
"Saddam Hussein's regime represents a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally, Israel. For more than two decades, Saddam Hussein has sought weapons of mass destruction through every available means. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons. He has already used them against his neighbors and his own people, and is trying to build more. We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons, and we know that each day he gets closer to achieving that goal... The debate over Iraq is not about politics. It is about national security. It should be clear that our national security requires Congress to send a clear message to Iraq and the world: America is united in its determination to eliminate forever the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."
Senate Floor - October 2002
"The only way to change this is for Saddam Hussein to disarm, and I don't think he will. We are in a very difficult position right now... It’s with conviction I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our nation. It’s a vote that says clearly to Saddam, ‘This is your last chance. Disarm or be disarmed."
"I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security... 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. He has had a free hand for 4 years to reconstitute these weapons, allowing the world, during the interval, to lose the focus we had on weapons of mass destruction and the issue of proliferation."
Speech at Georgetown University 23-January-2003
"We need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. We all know the litany of his offenses. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. ...And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. That is why the world, through the United Nations Security Council, has spoken with one voice, demanding that Iraq disclose its weapons programs and disarm."
Today, two weeks later, we're on the verge of war – a war that is justified, but make no mistake, one that is elective.. So let's be very clear: This Administration has not, in my view, done nearly enough in Afghanistan to win the peace, and if we go to war in Iraq, we can't afford to repeat that mistake. We'll have to stay until the country is secure, its weapons of mass destruction destroyed, and a stable, pluralistic – if not a democracy which I think would be almost impossible to guarantee -- but a pluralistic government in place of Saddam Hussein...
Winning the war but losing the peace in Iraq is not an option. We don't want to make that mistake again, but make no mistake, in order to avoid that mistake it will be timely and costly. Very, very costly. And that's all the more reason, I might note parenthetically, why we need more support than we have among the coalition of the willing."
Statement on Iraq 17-March-2003
"While we failed to convince many countries that disarming Iraq is the world's problem, we must win their agreement that rebuilding Iraq is the world's responsibility. Our goal must be an Iraq that is whole, secure, free and governed by its own people. Most experts agree that will take years and tens of billions of dollars. The U.S. must lead this effort, but it is profoundly in our interest that others share this burden. And we should involve the U.N. as quickly as possible, while avoiding an open ended American military administration. Failure to do so could turn us from liberators into occupiers and make us a target for malcontents around the world."
"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... 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."
In 2008 we can choose a President who was right on Iraq in 2003, or we can choose a President who was wrong on Iraq in 2003 and hope they get it right this time. Choose wisely.