What Would Obama Do?

Senator Obama’s March 19 “major speech on Iraq” strings together a dozen faulty or baseless assertions, each of which requires several paragraphs to rebut. This is the first in a series of rebuttals.

For more than four years we’ve endured intellectually lazy, hindsight criticism of the decisions to depose Saddam and endeavor to replace his regime with a friendly, democratic government. The arguments from these lazy critics boil down to two points:

  1. Neener, neener the WMDs weren’t there.
  2. Bogged down in years of occupation and “civil war.”

Yesterday, in his “major speech on Iraq” Obama used #1 to support his claim of wisdom and judgment superior to his adversaries. He said that at the time President Bush and Congress decided to undertake the Iraq operation, “there was no hard evidence that Iraq had those stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.”

One wonders what would qualify as “hard evidence,” in Obama’s opinion. At the time, the CIA, the NSA, the Pentagon, and every allied intelligence agency concluded, from available intelligence, that Saddam had stockpiles and weapons development programs. At the end of the first Gulf War Saddam had agreed to end WMD development and to account for his stockpiles. But he had never provided the required information and had continuously interfered with inspectors who were trying to find out if he still had WMDs. In hindsight it has become obvious that Saddam wanted potential adversaries, including America, to believe he still had WMD capability.

It’s impossible to prove a negative, so it’s impossible to prove there were no WMDs in Iraq immediately prior to the invasion. There may have been WMDs that someone stole or destroyed or sold. There is some evidence that WMDs were shipped out to Syria hours before the invasion.

But assume all the information available to the President and Congress was wrong. Assume there were no WMDs. Would that mean the decisions to depose Saddam, and endeavor to launch an allied democracy were inferior judgment? Does the lack of WMDs mean that, as Obama asserts, opposing the Iraq operation from his seat in the Illinois legislature, where he was not accountable for the consequences, demonstrated superior judgment?

If he becomes President, Obama will have to make serious decisions, based only on intelligence. There will be no live video. There will be no armada of warships or columns of tanks converging on America – no “hard evidence.”   There will only be murky, less than absolutely conclusive intelligence, coupled with dicey military or espionage options.

If Obama insists The President and Congress demonstrated faulty judgment in the decision to take action in the face of an apparent threat to National Security then he is obligated to disclose now, before the election, how he will determine the appropriate response.

What would President Obama do if confronted with intelligence indicating danger to America?  Will he always give the enemy the benefit of the doubt? Will he rule out any military action based solely on intelligence?  If he refuses  to act without “hard evidence” then he can’t promise to act before we have suffered some kind of violent attack.

The voters should demand answers, now.

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