A politician who was right about the Iraq invasion

The invasion of Iraq by U.S. troops and allies began 10 years ago today. Senators Hillary Clinton and John Kerry voted in favor of the resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to use force, and ex-President Bill Clinton heartily supported the invasion.   One person who spoke out against the invasion was Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, who said the following in a speech in October, 2002.

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.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

via Speech by Illinois State Senator Barack Obama in October, 2002.

I read a lot of complaints about how pundits, politicians and government officials who were wrong about Iraq are still as powerful and influential as they were before, while those who were right about Iraq are still marginalized.  Barack Obama is the exception to this.  If he had not spoken out against the Iraq invasion, he would not be President today.

Obama, the state legislator, manifested a lot of wisdom about the dangers of open-ended Presidential authority to engage in military action, and about why the United States should not start wars with countries that are not a threat to us.  I hope that President Obama can recapture some of that wisdom.

[Added 3/21/13]

For context, click on Behold the Hatred, Resentment and Mockery Aimed at Anti-Iraq War Protesters by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic.

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