Friday, January 05, 2007

Is the 2002 Senate Trying to Cover its A**?

I have mixed feelings on this ABC News article. It states that 33 US Senators would have changed their vote on Iraq if they knew then what they knew now:
ABC News decided to survey the views of the senators who served in 2002, most of whom remain in the Senate. The survey indicates that those senators say that if they knew then what they know now, President Bush would never have been given the authority to use force in Iraq.
By ABC News' count, if the Senators knew then what they know now, only 43 at most would still vote to approve the use of force and the measure would be defeated. And at least 57 senators would vote against going to war, a number that combines those who already voted against the war resolution with those who told ABC News they would vote against going to war, or said that the pre-war intelligence has been proven so wrong the measure would lose or it would never even come to a vote.
Here is my take on the change of heart-

1. There is really no change in the information available, a solid 30% of the American people were against the war and a majority of other governments were against the war based upon the intelligence that was available at the time. The BBC and other non-Kool Aid drinking media outlets had reported that the evidence for going to war was weak/non-existent. There was really no solild reason for us to go to war, whether it was WMDs, terrorist funding or connections to Al-Qeada the rationale was flimsy, at best. In addition, the fall out related to our invasion was not hard to figure out. The ethnic tensions at play in Iraq were apparent and the potential influence of Iran on a changed Iraq was fairly clear.

2. The history regarding the authorization of force has been largely forgotten. The political context is completely ignored by the mainstream press. The debate and vote came one month before congressional elections and the Republican party heavily politicized the vote. That doesn't neccisarily mean the Democrats should have authorized use of force, just that the potential for completely ceding control of Congress to the Republicans was always in the background. Unfortunately, we will never know what the outcome would have been had the Democrats fought back.

3. Also regarding the historical context, the authorization for use of force was billed as neccesary by the President, not for actual war but for increased sanctions on the Iraqi government. We were consistently told that the President wanted peace yet still needed to send a strong message so that we could get inspectors into Iraq. In this regard, the complete dishonesty on the part of the Whitehouse has been revealed by the Downing Street Memo.

In the end, I don't know if the Senators involved with this vote are trying to wash their hands of this enormous mess. The political climate we exist in now is vastly different then the one we saw 4 years ago. I would have loved to see some political courage, but I also realize that there is a difference between courageous and being foolhardy. As such, I think we should take this poll with a grain of salt. What we should be doing now is holding these folks accountable.

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