Hillary Clinton’s Achilles Heel?
Senator Clinton is sure trying hard to court the antiwar vote while still sustaining a muscular U.S. foreign policy agenda as she runs for the presidency. On May 16, Hillary Clinton sided with 28 other senators in support for advancing legislation to cut off funding for the war in Iraq after March of 2008.
Despite her modest anti-war gesture, Clinton was still not willing to predict how she would side on similar legislation in the future. "I’m not going to speculate on what I’m going to be voting on in the future," Clinton told reporters shortly after the vote. "I voted in favor of cloture to have a debate."
Hours later Clinton changed her mind, and decided that she wanted to do more than start a debate on the matter. "I support the underlying bill," she said. "That’s what this vote on cloture was all about."
Even though the race for the White House is still in its infancy, Hillary Clinton has yet to take a coherent position on the Iraq war. The senator from New York has continually blamed President Bush for putting forward faulty information about Iraq’s WMD programs, as well as Saddam’s alleged ties to al Qaeda while he was in power. Clinton, like the rest of us, was lied to, and as a result she naively voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq to destroy Saddam’s regime.
But Clinton’s maneuvers to evade responsibility four years after the fact are meager, not to mention completely without merit. In fact Clinton sold the same lies and deceptions as the Bush cartel, which plunged us into this catastrophic war.
"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," Clinton said in October of 2002. "He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members … 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."
Perhaps Hillary was taking a line from her husband Bill’s repertoire, who as president bolstered the same case for disarming Hussein. "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear," said President Clinton in February of 1998. "We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program."
What WMD program? As United States weapons inspector Charles Duelfer explained in a fall 2004 report, Saddam Hussein had shut down Iraq’s chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs following the first Iraq war in 1991.
Hillary Clinton has tried to have it both ways on Iraq for several years. Voting for phased troop redeployment, while also supporting continued funding for the occupation. Her vote last week is surely not an indication of which way she’ll turn in the future.
The Iraq war to Hillary Clinton is more about political expediency than honesty or integrity, and it may well prove to be her Achilles’ heel over the course of the next year. Like President Bush, and so many other wayward politicians, Hillary is also to blame for the shameful bloodshed that plagues Iraq today.
JOSHUA FRANK is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the forthcoming Red State Rebels, to be published by AK Press in March 2008.