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Floor Speech of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (October 10, 2002)

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kpete Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:25 AM
Original message
Floor Speech of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (October 10, 2002)
October 10, 2002

Floor Speech of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
on S.J. Res. 45, A Resolution to Authorize the Use of
United States Armed Forces Against Iraq
As Delivered


Today we are asked whether to give the President of the United States authority to use force in Iraq should diplomatic efforts fail to dismantle Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons and his nuclear program.

I am honored to represent nearly 19 million New Yorkers, a thoughtful democracy of voices and opinions who make themselves heard on the great issues of our day especially this one. Many have contacted my office about this resolution, both in support of and in opposition to it, and I am grateful to all who have expressed an opinion.

I also greatly respect the differing opinions within this body. The debate they engender will aid our search for a wise, effective policy. Therefore, on no account should dissent be discouraged or disparaged. It is central to our freedom and to our progress, for on more than one occasion, history has proven our great dissenters to be right.

Now, I believe the facts that have brought us to this fateful vote are not in doubt. Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who has tortured and killed his own people, even his own family members, to maintain his iron grip on power. He used chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds and on Iranians, killing over 20 thousand people. Unfortunately, during the 1980's, while he engaged in such horrific activity, he enjoyed the support of the American government, because he had oil and was seen as a counterweight to the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran.

In 1991, Saddam Hussein invaded and occupied Kuwait, losing the support of the United States. The first President Bush assembled a global coalition, including many Arab states, and threw Saddam out after forty-three days of bombing and a hundred hours of ground operations. The U.S.-led coalition then withdrew, leaving the Kurds and the Shiites, who had risen against Saddam Hussein at our urging, to Saddam's revenge.

As a condition for ending the conflict, the United Nations imposed a number of requirements on Iraq, among them disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction, stocks used to make such weapons, and laboratories necessary to do the work. Saddam Hussein agreed, and an inspection system was set up to ensure compliance. And though he repeatedly lied, delayed, and obstructed the inspections work, the inspectors found and destroyed far more weapons of mass destruction capability than were destroyed in the Gulf War, including thousands of chemical weapons, large volumes of chemical and biological stocks, a number of missiles and warheads, a major lab equipped to produce anthrax and other bio-weapons, as well as substantial nuclear facilities.

In 1998, Saddam Hussein pressured the United Nations to lift the sanctions by threatening to stop all cooperation with the inspectors. In an attempt to resolve the situation, the UN, unwisely in my view, agreed to put limits on inspections of designated "sovereign sites" including the so-called presidential palaces, which in reality were huge compounds well suited to hold weapons labs, stocks, and records which Saddam Hussein was required by UN resolution to turn over. When Saddam blocked the inspection process, the inspectors left. As a result, President Clinton, with the British and others, ordered an intensive four-day air assault, Operation Desert Fox, on known and suspected weapons of mass destruction sites and other military targets.

In 1998, the United States also changed its underlying policy toward Iraq from containment to regime change and began to examine options to effect such a change, including support for Iraqi opposition leaders within the country and abroad.

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.

It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.

Now this much is undisputed. The open questions are: what should we do about it? How, when, and with whom?

Some people favor attacking Saddam Hussein now, with any allies we can muster, in the belief that one more round of weapons inspections would not produce the required disarmament, and that deposing Saddam would be a positive good for the Iraqi people and would create the possibility of a secular democratic state in the Middle East, one which could perhaps move the entire region toward democratic reform.

This view has appeal to some, because it would assure disarmament; because it would right old wrongs after our abandonment of the Shiites and Kurds in 1991, and our support for Saddam Hussein in the 1980's when he was using chemical weapons and terrorizing his people; and because it would give the Iraqi people a chance to build a future in freedom.

However, this course is fraught with danger. We and our NATO allies did not depose Mr. Milosevic, who was responsible for more than a quarter of a million people being killed in the 1990s. Instead, by stopping his aggression in Bosnia and Kosovo, and keeping on the tough sanctions, we created the conditions in which his own people threw him out and led to his being in the dock being tried for war crimes as we speak.

If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us. In recent days, Russia has talked of an invasion of Georgia to attack Chechen rebels. India has mentioned the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on Pakistan. And what if China were to perceive a threat from Taiwan?

So Mr. President, for all its appeal, a unilateral attack, while it cannot be ruled out, on the present facts is not a good option.

Others argue that we should work through the United Nations and should only resort to force if and when the United Nations Security Council approves it. This too has great appeal for different reasons. The UN deserves our support. Whenever possible we should work through it and strengthen it, for it enables the world to share the risks and burdens of global security and when it acts, it confers a legitimacy that increases the likelihood of long-term success. The UN can help lead the world into a new era of global cooperation and the United States should support that goal.

But there are problems with this approach as well. The United Nations is an organization that is still growing and maturing. It often lacks the cohesion to enforce its own mandates. And when Security Council members use the veto, on occasion, for reasons of narrow-minded interests, it cannot act. In Kosovo, the Russians did not approve NATO military action because of political, ethnic, and religious ties to the Serbs. The United States therefore could not obtain a Security Council resolution in favor of the action necessary to stop the dislocation and ethnic cleansing of more than a million Kosovar Albanians. However, most of the world was with us because there was a genuine emergency with thousands dead and a million driven from their homes. As soon as the American-led conflict was over, Russia joined the peacekeeping effort that is still underway.

In the case of Iraq, recent comments indicate that one or two Security Council members might never approve force against Saddam Hussein until he has actually used chemical, biological, or God forbid, nuclear weapons.

So, Mr. President, the question is how do we do our best to both defuse the real threat that Saddam Hussein poses to his people, to the region, including Israel, to the United States, to the world, and at the same time, work to maximize our international support and strengthen the United Nations?

While there is no perfect approach to this thorny dilemma, and while people of good faith and high intelligence can reach diametrically opposed conclusions, I believe the best course is to go to the UN for a strong resolution that scraps the 1998 restrictions on inspections and calls for complete, unlimited inspections with cooperation expected and demanded from Iraq. I know that the Administration wants more, including an explicit authorization to use force, but we may not be able to secure that now, perhaps even later. But if we get a clear requirement for unfettered inspections, I believe the authority to use force to enforce that mandate is inherent in the original 1991 UN resolution, as President Clinton recognized when he launched Operation Desert Fox in 1998.

If we get the resolution that President Bush seeks, and if Saddam complies, disarmament can proceed and the threat can be eliminated. Regime change will, of course, take longer but we must still work for it, nurturing all reasonable forces of opposition.

If we get the resolution and Saddam does not comply, then we can attack him with far more support and legitimacy than we would have otherwise.

If we try and fail to get a resolution that simply, but forcefully, calls for Saddam's compliance with unlimited inspections, those who oppose even that will be in an indefensible position. And, we will still have more support and legitimacy than if we insist now on a resolution that includes authorizing military action and other requirements giving some nations superficially legitimate reasons to oppose any Security Council action. They will say we never wanted a resolution at all and that we only support the United Nations when it does exactly what we want.

I believe international support and legitimacy are crucial. After shots are fired and bombs are dropped, not all consequences are predictable. While the military outcome is not in doubt, should we put troops on the ground, there is still the matter of Saddam Hussein's biological and chemical weapons. Today he has maximum incentive not to use them or give them away. If he did either, the world would demand his immediate removal. Once the battle is joined, however, with the outcome certain, he will have maximum incentive to use weapons of mass destruction and to give what he can't use to terrorists who can torment us with them long after he is gone. We cannot be paralyzed by this possibility, but we would be foolish to ignore it. And according to recent reports, the CIA agrees with this analysis. A world united in sharing the risk at least would make this occurrence less likely and more bearable and would be far more likely to share with us the considerable burden of rebuilding a secure and peaceful post-Saddam Iraq.

President Bush's speech in Cincinnati and the changes in policy that have come forth since the Administration began broaching this issue some weeks ago have made my vote easier. Even though the resolution before the Senate is not as strong as I would like in requiring the diplomatic route first and placing highest priority on a simple, clear requirement for unlimited inspections, I will take the President at his word that he will try hard to pass a UN resolution and will seek to avoid war, if at all possible.

Because bipartisan support for this resolution makes success in the United Nations more likely, and therefore, war less likely, and because a good faith effort by the United States, even if it fails, will bring more allies and legitimacy to our cause, I have concluded, after careful and serious consideration, that a vote for the resolution best serves the security of our nation. If we were to defeat this resolution or pass it with only a few Democrats, I am concerned that those who want to pretend this problem will go way with delay will oppose any UN resolution calling for unrestricted inspections.

This is a very difficult vote. 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.

And perhaps my decision is influenced by my eight years of experience on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue in the White House watching my husband deal with serious challenges to our nation. I want this President, or any future President, to be in the strongest possible position to lead our country in the United Nations or in war. Secondly, I want to insure that Saddam Hussein makes no mistake about our national unity and for our support for the President's efforts to wage America's war against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. And thirdly, I want the men and women in our Armed Forces to know that if they should be called upon to act against Iraq, our country will stand resolutely behind them.

My vote is not, however, a vote for any new doctrine of pre-emption, or for uni-lateralism, or for the arrogance of American power or purpose -- all of which carry grave dangers for our nation, for the rule of international law and for the peace and security of people throughout the world.

Over eleven years have passed since the UN called on Saddam Hussein to rid himself of weapons of mass destruction as a condition of returning to the world community. Time and time again he has frustrated and denied these conditions. This matter cannot be left hanging forever with consequences we would all live to regret. War can yet be avoided, but our responsibility to global security and to the integrity of United Nations resolutions protecting it cannot. I urge the President to spare no effort to secure a clear, unambiguous demand by the United Nations for unlimited inspections.

And finally, on another personal note, I come to this decision from the perspective of a Senator from New York who has seen all too closely the consequences of last year's terrible attacks on our nation. In balancing the risks of action versus inaction, I think New Yorkers who have gone through the fires of hell may be more attuned to the risk of not acting. I know that I am.

So it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our nation. A vote for it is not a vote to rush to war; it is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of our President and we say to him - use these powers wisely and as a last resort. And it is a vote that says clearly to Saddam Hussein - this is your last chance - disarm or be disarmed.

Thank you, Mr. President.
http://clinton.senate.gov/speeches/iraq_101002.html
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skipos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:28 AM
Response to Original message
1. Look at that "experience" being put to action.
No thanks.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #1
9. Thirty-five years of change.
Much of that "change" is apparently the 'change' of reality itself.

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Clarkansas Donating Member (701 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #9
16. That steady hand
I realize that most of our candidates voted the wrong way on this, but Hillary is the only one who is totally happy with her vote.
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thunder rising Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:29 AM
Response to Original message
2. "if left unchecked" clever use of words
she implies forcefully taken out of power, but indeed we had him in check and it wasn't costing a 1K American lives and $350B a year to do it. So, she was triangulating. And, she voted for WAR without proof.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:33 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. Yep. That speech is a gold mine of such contorted innuendoes and fictions.
It's a finely-crafted piece of Rovian propaganda. Appalling.

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originalpckelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:29 AM
Response to Original message
3. "history has proven our great dissenters to be right"
Indeed it has.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:31 AM
Response to Original message
4. "we say to him - use these powers wisely and as a last resort." Repugs/Bush chose
to use power for war.


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originalpckelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:32 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:31 AM
Response to Original message
5. It's a speech that Karl Rove would be proud to have written.
It's stunning how much that speech indicates some "alternate reality" where sane people rarely visit. Surreal. It reeks of projection, denial, and revisionism.

Appalling.

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Ravy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:34 AM
Response to Original message
8. I am just not so sure that the IWR vote was the wrong one.
I posted on this a week ago, and got lots of thoughtful and reasoned responses.

The IWR, had Bush not invaded, was working very well. People were wrong to put faith in the administration, but, in my opinion, at some point you have to put faith in something to be progressive.

Thanks for posting this, kpete!
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originalpckelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. Oh holy crap, revise history much?
To believe that you would have to forget what was really going on back in 2002. There was an election coming up, our party wanted to keep control of the Senate, and people didn't want their asses to be grass on national security, so they voted for the war. I mean, after all, Afghanistan worked out so well and the first war with Iraq was even better, so it was clear that we could do it "easily".
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Ravy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #10
15. You also forget that Bush had a 70% approval rating then.
You don't always have to use force for it to be effective.

I am not revising anything. The IWR was breaking the impasse in Iraq. Weapon inspectors were in, weapons that were out of compliance with the UN mandates were being destroyed, Saddam was considering exile.

With another administration that wasn't hell-bent on war, the IWR most likely would have resulted in the end of the sanctions and the surrounding corruption that was killing so many Iraqi civillians.
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originalpckelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:54 AM
Response to Reply #15
18. As long as you have a benevolent monarch, monarchy isn't bad at all.
It's only when you have a total shithead in power that it matters.

The idea here is that you can't easily know the good ones and the bad ones, and you must always presume that power will be abused to protect oneself from the bad ones.
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Ravy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 12:19 PM
Response to Reply #18
23. I am saying that Bush wasn't fully exposed back then.
People know now. But that explains the difference in the 70% approval rating and his current one, don't you think?

You are presuming that the vote was for going into an easy war. I don't think that it was. The OP here also indicates that it wasn't. And you say *I* am revising.

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originalpckelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. The problem is that it doesn't matter. No one can be trusted with that kind of power.
In violating the law of the US Constitution, the Senate handed over it's powers of declaring war to the President, and we've seen why those powers were originally the Senate's and not the President's.
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TriMetFan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:39 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. Also what people forget is that...
they were lied to by bush and thugs.
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indimuse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #8
13. agreed.
:applause:
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:38 AM
Response to Original message
11. Well, she shows a mastery of obfuscation, triangulation, and doubletalk.
Plus a few nice touches of "toughness" in the face of the bogeyman.
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CorpGovActivist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:41 AM
Response to Original message
14. kpete - Thank You, So Much, for All You Do...
... to quietly, steadily, and patiently keep us informed, remind us of where we've been, and help us to see clearly where we need to go.

I have bookmarked this to read more carefully later. I haven't had enough coffee yet to deal with hearing *that* voice in my head (the one that gave the speech, saying the skimmed words).

- Dave
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leftofthedial Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:48 AM
Response to Original message
17. so, she is either a triangulating idiot
or an accomplice to crimes against humanity

or so gullible that she could be convinced to do ANYTHING by anyone with a spiel.

NOT leadership material.
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Toots Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:54 AM
Response to Original message
19. Through words like these she is a leading contender to be our next President
Most people eat this type of stuff up. Words that inspire...
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leftofthedial Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:55 AM
Response to Original message
20. Poor Hillary.
Poor widdle thing.
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Didereaux Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 11:57 AM
Response to Original message
21. What many seem not to notice is that the key is the very 1st line...
"Today we are asked whether to give the President of the United States authority to use force in Iraq should diplomatic efforts fail to dismantle Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons and his nuclear program...."

"Should diplomatic efforts fail" Cheney, of course ignored that. Which arguably was a given to even Bubba. But nonetheless was a reasonable constraint and condition that if the past traditions of such things held, then Congress would muddy-up and delay or block any attempts to bypass a diplomatic step. The Congress were dreaming.

The second constraining aspect was the condition that such force was authorized fro dismantling the WMD. So, to the Congressmen who drafted that(all lawyers in probability) they construed that as to clearly mean ONLY for that purpose which of course meant there had to be proof such things existed.

Although I can honestly say that I yelled like a gut shot hog at the time that this was bullshit and Cheney would ignore it except to use it as a tool to beat Congress over the head with after he invaded Iraq. He did, and he did.

But once again with the exception of less than a half dozen or so the ENTIRE Congress fell inot this trap. To blame any one of them, for signing on must also have appended on the blame the other 500 or so as well. Second point is that NO candidate not in Congress at the time, and who never went public with their opposition to this thing has any standing to place blame. They can only say that they personnally were against it...same as you or I.

More to the moment the issue is really this. It is obvious and is fact by dint of it was open and public, that Cheney by not pursuing all diplomatic avenues, and not providing evidence(except the lies) of WMD violated the authorization and thusly went to war illegally. At the very least a contempt of Congress, which is an impeachable misdemeanor. Which brings up the only still relevent issue that isists concerning this matter: Which candidate, if in office at the time or soon after has supported at the least investigations into impeaching Cheney on the grounds he started an unauthorized war?

I'll tell you NONE, NADA Not Clinton, Not Edwards(when he was in office), and certainly not Obama. So if I were a supporter af any one of these three I think I would get the fuck away from this issue as far as I could.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 12:11 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. How can anyone NOT "fail to dismantle" something that doesn't exist???
Lies on top of lies on top of lies on top of a fraud.

Saddam did NOT have nukes ... but it's not just about nukes.
Saddam did NOT have strategic OR tactical CBW capability ... but it's not just about CBW.
Saddam did NOT pose an "imminent threat" ... PERIOD!!!!!!!

It's not just that he didn't have the capability ... despite the endless nit-picking and specious rhetoric.
There was absolutely NO CLEAR THREAT whatsoever!!

Jesus fucking Christ on a rubber crutch!

We committed a Crime Against Peace and violated our own "Supreme Law of the Land." Period.
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Didereaux Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-12-08 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. my point exactly. no proof...couldn't be as it never existed.
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