From Stephen Zunes at antiwar.com:
Clinton supporters want Democratic voters to forgive their candidate’s support for the most disastrous foreign policy decision in decades. They shouldn’t.
Former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton is the only candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination who supported the invasion of Iraq.
That war not only resulted in 4,500 American soldiers being killed and thousands more permanently disabled, but also hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, the destabilization of the region with the rise of the Islamic State and other extremists, and a dramatic increase in the federal deficit, resulting in major cutbacks to important social programs. Moreover, the primary reasons Clinton gave for supporting President George W. Bush’s request for authorizing that illegal and unnecessary war have long been proven false.
As a result, many Democratic voters are questioning – despite her years of foreign policy experience – whether Clinton has the judgment and integrity to lead the United States on the world stage. It was just such concerns that resulted in her losing the 2008 nomination to then-Senator Barack Obama, an outspoken Iraq War opponent.
This time around, Clinton supporters have been hoping that enough Democratic voters – the overwhelming majority of whom opposed the war – will forget about her strong endorsement of the Bush administration’s most disastrous foreign policy. Failing that, they’ve come up with a number of excuses to justify her October 2002 vote for the authorization of military force.
Here they are, in no particular order.
“Hillary Clinton’s vote wasn’t for war, but simply to pressure Saddam Hussein to allow UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq.”
At the time of vote, Saddam Hussein had already agreed in principle to a return of the weapons inspectors. His government was negotiating with the United Nations Monitoring and Verification Commission on the details, which were formally institutionalized a few weeks later. (Indeed, it would have been resolved earlier had the United States not repeatedly postponed a UN Security Council resolution in the hopes of inserting language that would have allowed Washington to unilaterally interpret the level of compliance.)
Furthermore, if then-Senator Clinton’s desire was simply to push Saddam into complying with the inspection process, she wouldn’t have voted against the substitute Levin amendment, which would have also granted President Bush authority to use force, but only if Iraq defied subsequent UN demands regarding the inspections process. Instead, Clinton voted for a Republican-sponsored resolution to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq at the time and circumstances of his own choosing.
In fact, unfettered large-scale weapons inspections had been going on in Iraq for nearly four months at the time the Bush administration launched the March 2003 invasion. Despite the UN weapons inspectors having not found any evidence of WMDs or active WMD programs after months of searching, Clinton made clear that the United States should invade Iraq anyway. Indeed, she asserted that even though Saddam was in full compliance with the UN Security Council, he nevertheless needed to resign as president, leave the country, and allow U.S. troops to occupy the country. “The president gave Saddam Hussein one last chance to avoid war,” Clinton said in a statement, “and the world hopes that Saddam Hussein will finally hear this ultimatum, understand the severity of those words, and act accordingly.”
When Saddam refused to resign and the Bush administration launched the invasion, Clinton went on record calling for “unequivocal support” for Bush’s “firm leadership and decisive action” as “part of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.” She insisted that Iraq was somehow still “in material breach of the relevant United Nations resolutions” and, despite the fact that weapons inspectors had produced evidence to the contrary, claimed the invasion was necessary to “neutralize Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.”
To continue reading: The Five Lamest Excuses for Hillary Clinton’s Vote to Invade Iraq