I think any candidate for the presidency who voted to authorise the use of force to dismantle illusory weapons of mass destruction and replace the Saddam Hussein autocracy is not competent to assume the American presidency. While I am impressed with Senator John Edwards’s decency, passionate apology for his vote for war and Bobby Kennedyesque campaign against poverty and income inequality, he did support one of the more egregious strategic disasters since the deployment of Marines to Danang in 1965. This led to the total Americanisation of the Vietnam War.
No candidate running for president, other than the decent and honourable Congressperson Dennis Kucinich and former Senator Mike Gravel, opposed the Iraq War prior to March 19, 2003. Mr Kucinich, a former mayor of Cleveland, is the only member of Congress running for president to have voted against the war, since Senator Obama was in the Illinois State Senate when war was authorised by the Congress–including a majority of Democratic Senators I might add.
However, the facts are that the Illinois Senator remains the only front-line candidate for the American presidency that had the vision and the capacity to understand what such an invasion would mean for American vital strategic interests. Nothing is as important as the decision to deploy American combat forces. They will die; others will die; areas will be devastated; families will be destroyed; mothers and fathers will lose their children. War is tragic, terrible and in this instance of muscular neo-conservative preemption, utterly without an exit strategy or a rationale that would merit such loss of life and the destruction of a small country. Senator Barack Obama opposed this war from the beginning and I think this confers upon him a capacity of leadership that Senators Clinton, Biden, Dodd and even John Edwards unfortunately do not possess.
With the exception of Hillary Clinton who stated when voting for this disaster, “This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make — any vote that may lead to war should be hard — but I cast it with conviction,” the Democrats have an impressive array of candidates who seem committed to expressing their views without calibrating each statement to garner votes. Yet it seems to me the war is the central issue of our time and when we have an opportunity to measure and compare candidates on their position BEFORE the war, I believe the Illinois Senator reflects the wisdom necessary to enhance international peace and security.