Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 23, 2004

In addressing some of Bush's key points of attack against John Edwards yesterday, I didn't mention Edwards' obvious inexperience, particularly in foreign affairs. Naturally, that remains his biggest vulnerability, which I'll get into more another day.

But Edwards is vulnerable from another flank as well: once Joe Lieberman is out of the race, he becomes the most pro-Iraq-war Democrat left, and that could render him uniquely exposed to the potential for a third-party challenge. A left-wing anti-war third party would get its most votes in places like California and the Northeast, where the Democrats are likely to run strongly anyway, but the places where it could be a factor are a number of swing states the Democrats need badly: Washington, Oregon, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

It's not just that Edwards supported the war (I'll deal another day with his position since the main combat operations ended); it's that his full-throated support for the most controversial justification for the war -- that Saddam's regime had weapons of mass destruction -- puts him so totally at odds with the charges made by the anti-war Left (Dean, Clark, Ted Kennedy, Paul Krugman, etc.) that the war was some sort of political stunt or oil grab dreamed up in Texas and that our WMD intelligence was all a creation of Dick Cheney and the perfidious neocons.

Of course, we all know that Edwards has plenty of company on the Left - others who stuck their necks out on the WMD allegations include such right-wing warmongers as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Dick Gephardt, Lieberman and Tony Blair. But Edwards' statements on the matter were notably definitive:

1. September 12, 2002: Edwards gives a speech on why the "IRAQI DICTATOR MUST GO," coinciding with Bush's speech to the UN:

As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I firmly believe that the issue of Iraq is not about politics. It's about national security. We know that for at least 20 years, Saddam Hussein has obsessively sought weapons of mass destruction through every means available. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons today. He has used them in the past, and he is doing everything he can to build more. Each day he inches closer to his longtime goal of nuclear capability -- a capability that could be less than a year away.

I believe that Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime represents a clear threat to the United States, to our allies, to our interests around the world, and to the values of freedom and democracy we hold dear.

* * *

What's more, the terrorist threat against America is all too clear. Thousands of terrorist operatives around the world would pay anything to get their hands on Saddam's arsenal, and there is every possibility that he could turn his weapons over to these terrorists. No one can doubt that if the terrorists of September 11th had had weapons of mass destruction, they would have used them. On September 12, 2002, we can hardly ignore the terrorist threat, and the serious danger that Saddam would allow his arsenal to be used in aid of terror.

You will note that Edwards is on the Intelligence Committee (no doubt, to be fair, a fact his defenders will point to to show his experience). What that means is, he had access to intelligence on his own -- not everything that was available to the president, to be sure, but plenty enough to make up his own mind.

2. October 10, 2002: Edwards speaks as not only a supporter but a co-sponsor of the legislation authorizing the use of force in Iraq:

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.

Iraq has continued to seek nuclear weapons and develop its arsenal in defiance of the collective will of the international community, as expressed through the United Nations Security Council. It is violating the terms of the 1991 cease-fire that ended the Gulf War and as many as 16 Security Council resolutions, including 11 resolutions concerning Iraq's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

By ignoring these resolutions, Saddam Hussein is undermining the credibility of the United Nations, openly violating international law, and making a mockery of the very idea of collective action that is so important to the United States and its allies.

We cannot allow Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons in violation of his own commitments, our commitments, and the world's commitments.

This resolution will 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.

* * *

[W]e must be prepared to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, and eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction once and for all.

Almost no one disagrees with these basic facts: that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a menace; that he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons; that he has supported terrorists; that he is a grave threat to the region, to vital allies like Israel, and to the United States; and that he is thwarting the will of the international community and undermining the United Nations' credibility.

Now, I should stress here that I agree entirely with Edwards' statements from the fall of 2002: the available evidence did indeed suggest very strongly that Saddam was a "clear threat" and a "grave threat" to the United States, possessed chemical and biological weapons, and intended to acquire nuclear weapons. But having agreed with the president on this issue, Edwards may have trouble winning over voters in his own party who view these positions as a massive fraud.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 06:41 AM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Despite all the Dem statements to the contrary, we still cannot declare the WMD argument a farce, no matter which side of the fence you stand on. So much fuss is made by "progressive" and "antiwar" Democrats over the Kay report not finding any stores of WMD or explicitly WMD-linked equipment. The report also says that there are over 130 more Iraqi ammo dumps to check, and that according to the ISG research the Iraqi army did not clearly label their chemical/biological weapons differently from their massive traditional armament. The nuclear argument is weak, but the report gave indications that Saddam WOULD have tried to start up his nuclear program again, once sanctions were lifted. It also said that an Iraqi scientist had aquired basic centrifuge equipment, but that it was unclear if he was related to the official nuclear program.

What should stick in every Dems mind is something that you didn't bold, "Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a menace". Although I was not persuaded to support the war explicitly on the grounds that Saddam was an immeadiate threat to out country's safety simply because his WMD couldn't reach us with the delivery systems he had at his disposable(although it was very likely that he could have become one with his ever increasing--and illegal--missle technology and overtures of buying even more advanced missiles from N. Korea), I was convinced long before 9/11 that Saddam was a tyrant and that leaving him in power was condemning Iraqis to a life lesser than anyone deserves, and because of that this lifelong Democrat, on moral grounds if not on grounds of conduct, supported the war as a liberation of Iraq and a new chance for them to enter the world community, out of the shadow of a dictator. I would love it if we could find a way to eliminate collateral damage to civilian parties, and hopefully as our technology increases that will become an ever more realistic thought. As it stands, I disagree with the many of the ways that modern war is conducted, most notably an overdependence of striking from a distance with innaccurate weapons such as cruise missles and cluster bombs, but that doesn't change the fact that sometimes war is neccesary, regardless of the flaws in its structure. Saddam needed to be removed, if not for our immeadate safety, then for the livlihood of the Iraqis and eventually for the overarching cause of peace in the ME.

Posted by: Frank at January 23, 2004 03:33 PM
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