I was reading another diary "Top 10 Inane Profane & otherwise Flame arguments used versus Hillary Clinton " and took issue with the writer's (no.9) argument that the Iraq war is Bush's war and no one else's... especially not Hillary's. My response got a little passionate and my comment on the thread was getting long, so I decided to post my response as a diary here. No disrespect is meant towards the author of the original diary.
Yes, Iraq is Bush's war. It'll ultimately be on his head, and it will always be linked with his name. But this war belongs to a lot of us. It belongs to Cheney, to Rumsfeld, to Powell, to Tenet. It belongs to the NYT and CNN and FOX. It belongs to every American who allowed the post 9/11 hysteria to sweep them up and away from critical thinking and patriotic skepticism. It belongs to everyone who chose to ignore the thousands on the streets who knew Bush was lying and had a hard-on for war.
And it belongs to a lot of Democrats. It belongs to Feinstein, Biden, and Reid. It belongs to Kerry and Edwards. Whether for political expediency or a return to rationality, at least Kerry/Edwards apologized. Though unsure if that apology is really enough, I tried to forgive them and decided that they are at least better than their Republican opponents.
Here's some people this war doesn't belong to: Gore, Obama, or Dean. They were well-informed enough to denounce the war early on and have spoken out against it ever since. Neither does the war belong to Germany, France, Russia, Canada, or the majority of our allies who knew this was an imperial play that would end in disaster. It also doesn't belong to the majority of House Democrats who rejected the clearly titled "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq".
It doesn't belong to the only Republican Senator who voted against the Authorization. In Lincoln Chafee's recent book, he commented on pro-war Democrats, "They argue that the president duped them into war, but getting duped does not exactly recommend their leadership. Helping a rogue president start an unnecessary war should be a career-ending lapse of judgment."
The war in Iraq doesn't belong to the 32 Democratic senators who voted against the Authorization. It doesn't belong to Boxer, Byrd, Feingold, or Kennedy. It certainly doesn't belong to Carl Levin. He introduced the Levin Amendment that called for additional Congressional approval before a unilateral (that is, non-UN sanctioned) attack. In other words, it called for more diplomacy. Hillary Clinton voted against that measure, even though she now claims that she supported AUMF because she thought that would somehow lead to more diplomacy.
So, yes, the war also belongs to Hillary. She placed herself squarely among the minority of congressional Democrats who voted for the bill. Was hers just one vote? Yes. It was one vote from one of the most prominent and influential Democrats in the Senate. It was a vote from a former First Lady. It was a vote from a likely presidential candidate. It was a weighty vote, and it likely gave cover to Democrats unsure of which way they might go. Worse, it was an enabling vote for Bush. A Clinton vote for a Bush war effectively mainstreamed our country's march into Baghdad.
So far, no apologies. Hillary Clinton is basing her candidacy on experience, yet she still has been unable to apologize a vote for the war that people are dying in today. Rather than an apology, there are excuses. She says she believed Bush, as if that's supposed to make us feel better. Rather than an apology, there's the "I know you are but what am I" tactic of somehow making Obama complicit by the fact that he hasn't voted to defund the troops while they are still in harm's way.
For me, this is a defining issue. Any politician who voted for a clearly unnecessary war should make any voter think twice. If a presidential candidate can't grasp the basic principle that you don't attack a country that has not attacked you, then he or she fails a very basic litmus test. Whether Hillary was duped (unlikely) or going with the prevailing winds with an eye towards her political future (bingo!), it reveals a decided lack of leadership. Yes, Bush owns this war. So does Senator Clinton.
Before the assault begins, let me say that I was not an automatic Obama supporter. I didn't decide who I would choose up til the night of Feb. 4. There was even a chance that if Hillary would somehow own up to her mistake, I would have given her a second look (there's a lot I've admired about her). Given her subsequent behavior in the primaries, I've become quite comfortable with my choice and I'm absolutely thrilled that the next president could very well be someone who, like me and so many others, knew Iraq was an immoral tragedy in the making.