Many talk about it, Senator Clinton ridicules
it, but few have actually read it, so I post here the
text of Barack Obama's speech in 2002
opposing the Iraq war.
I would simply note that his speech proved
a sophisticated understanding of world affairs,
a deep knowledge about military consequences of going to war, a cool
ability to make the right commender in chief decision in times of great
pressure and a flawless, item by item, forecast of what would go wrong
if the war was initiated.
Here is the speech. Judge for yourself:.
"Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been
billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not
opposed to war in all circumstances.
"The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only
through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we
could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from
our soil. I don't oppose all wars.
"My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was
bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the
fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first
entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger
freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and
he did not fight in vain.
"I don't oppose all wars.
"After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the
dust and the tears, I supported this Administration's pledge to hunt
down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of
intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such a
tragedy from happening again.
"I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is
no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. 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 arm-chair, 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.
"What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to
distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a
drop in the median income - to distract us from corporate scandals and
a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the
"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. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted
UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and
coveted nuclear capacity.
"He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off
But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the
United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in
shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, 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
"I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US
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
"I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.
"So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our
children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a
fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and
al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting
down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland
security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.
"You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure that the UN
inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a
non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies
like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear
material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the
terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms
merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage
across the globe.
"You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called
allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing
their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and
inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up
without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits
of terrorist cells.
"You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off
Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the
interests of Exxon and Mobil.
"Those are the battles that we need to fight.
"Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against
ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.
"The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may
have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our
freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not - we will not -
travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who
would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full
measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in