The 44th President’s 2002 Speech On Waging War, With Syria Update

By: Edmund Jenks – West Coast Editor


President Barack Obama gestures while speaking in the White House briefing room in Washington, Monday, Aug. 20, 2012. Image Credit: AP via Washington Wire

President Barack Obama gestures while speaking in the White House briefing room in Washington, Monday, Aug. 20, 2012. Image Credit: AP via Washington Wire

The following is a transcript of the remarks then-Sen. Barack Obama delivered in Chicago on Oct. 2, 2002. In his speech, Obama said that what he was opposed to was “a dumb war … a rash war.” He said the war was a “cynical attempt” to shove “ideological agendas down our throats” and would distract from domestic problems such as poverty and health care. 

This version has been UPDATED with strike throughs / updated inserts to reflect our current historical perspective now nearly eleven (11) years later.

Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don’t oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain. I don’t oppose all wars.

After Sept. 11, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz / Samantha Power and Susan Rice and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove / David Axelrod to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income — to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein / Bashar Assad. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam / Bashar poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaida. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a fight, President Bush / 44th Presidency? Let’s finish the fight with bin Laden and al-Qaida, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings. You want a fight, President Bush / 44th Presidency?

Let’s fight to make sure that the U.N. inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe. You want a fight, President Bush / 44th Presidency?

Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells. You want a fight, President Bush / 44th Presidency? Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair. The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not — we will not — travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.

(ht: npr.org)

ENDS

Welcome to the world firmly rooted in the policies initiated during the 39th Presidency with the added element of gross hypocrisy and child-king megalomaniac-like assertions.

EXAMPLE:

Yesterday, The 44th President, Barack Obama, said the following during a press conference held while he visited with Sweden’s prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt.

This excerpted and edited from the New York Times - 

Obama Says ‘World Set a Red Line’ on Chemical Arms

By PETER BAKER – September 4, 2013 

I didn’t set a red line,” Mr. Obama said during a news conference here in Stockholm. “The world set a red line.”

He added,my Credibility is not  on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line. And America and Congress’s credibility is on the line.”
[Reference Here]

But this does not comport with the facts of statements The 44th President made a little over one year ago when he said:

This excerpted and edited from The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire -

Flashback: ‘Red Line’ in Syria — What Obama Said in 2012 Remarks Washington Wire -

September 4, 2013

Q (Chuck Todd, NBC News) Mr. President, could you update us on your latest thinking of where you think things are in Syria, and in particular, whether you envision using U.S. military, if simply for nothing else, the safe keeping of the chemical weapons, and if you’re confident that the chemical weapons are safe?

I also want to follow up on an answer you just gave to Nancy.  You said that one of the reasons you wanted to see Mitt Romney‘s tax returns was you want to see if everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  That actually goes to the question she asked, which is this implication, do you think there’s something Mitt Romney is not telling us in his tax returns that indicates he’s not playing by the same set of rules?

THE PRESIDENT:  No.  There’s a difference between playing by the same sets of rules and doing something illegal.  And in no way have we suggested the latter.  But the first disclosure, the one year of tax returns that he disclosed indicated that he used Swiss bank accounts, for example.  Well, that may be perfectly legal, but I suspect if you ask the average American, do you have one and is that part of how you manage your tax obligations, they would say no.  They would find that relevant information, particularly when we’re going into a time where we know we’re going to have to make tough choices both about spending and about taxes.

So I think the idea that this is somehow exceptional, that there should be a rationale or a justification for doing more than the very bare minimum has it backwards.  I mean, the assumption should be you do what previous presidential candidates did, dating back for decades.  And Governor Romney’s own dad says, well, the reason I put out 10 or 12 years is because any single year might not tell you the whole story.  And everybody has, I think, followed that custom ever since.

The American people have assumed that if you want to be President of the United States, that your life is an open book   when it comes to things like your finances.  I’m not asking him to disclose every detail of his medical records — although we normally do that as well — (laughter.)  You know?  I mean, this isn’t sort of overly personal here, guys.  This is pretty standard stuff.  I don’t think we’re being mean by asking him to do what every other presidential candidate has done — right?  It’s what the American people expect.

On Syria, obviously this is a very tough issue.  I have indicated repeatedly that President al-Assad has lost legitimacy, that he needs to step down.  So far, he hasn’t gotten the message, and instead has double downed in violence on his own people.  The international community has sent a clear message that rather than drag his country into civil war he should move in the direction of a political transition.  But at this point, the likelihood of a soft landing seems pretty distant.

What we’ve said is, number one, we want to make sure we’re providing humanitarian assistance, and we’ve done that to the tune of $82 million, I believe, so far.  And we’ll probably end up doing a little more because we want to make sure that the hundreds of thousands of refugees that are fleeing the mayhem, that they don’t end up creating — or being in a terrible situation, or also destabilizing some of Syria’s neighbors.

The second thing we’ve done is we said that we would provide, in consultation with the international community, some assistance to the opposition in thinking about how would a political transition take place, and what are the principles that should be upheld in terms of looking out for minority rights and human rights.  And that consultation is taking place.

I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation.  But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical.  That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria; it concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel.  It concerns us.  We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.

We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.  That would change my calculus.  That would change my equation

Q  (Todd)  So you’re confident it’s somehow under — it’s safe?

THE PRESIDENT:  In a situation this volatile, I wouldn’t say that I am absolutely confident.  What I’m saying is we’re monitoring that situation very carefully.  We have put together a range of contingency plans.  We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.  That would change my calculations significantly.

All right, thank you, everybody.
[Reference Here]

No statements were ever made linking action toward Syria and decades old accords that sit at the United Nations and no United States Congressional leader or World leader, other than this 44th President, ever evoked the term of RED LINE as it relates to actions concerning Syrian unrest.

Welcome to Carter’s Second Term … but it is way more dangerous and corrupt than we expected. Oh, and the damage to the economy due to Government spending and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare has yet to get underway in earnest.

About the Author

Edmund Jenks - West Coast Editor Biography: Edmund Jenks is the Managing Editor of five Weblogs: MAXINE, Symblogogy , Oblate Spheroid, Carter’s Second Term, & notes from The EDJE. He provides consulting and relationship services and has been republished by Pajama’s Media, LATimes, Execupundit, Library Clips, Japan Only, Planet CellPhone, The Grocery List, BlogoWogo, Instapundit, PoliticalOpinions, Slate, AOLnews, WIRED, and WSJ Online …to mention a few. He’s also a Feature Page Manager for Motorsports and Feature Page Editor for Tech & Biz on NowPublic, member of the Motor Press Guild, registered citizen journalist on BlogRoll of Pajamas Media, and has appeared on Pajamas TV. Edmund Jenks has joined the Politisite team with his expertise in National Politics with a West Coast Conservative Flair. We are honored to have Ed as part of our growing portfolio of journalists and commentators.

Author Archive Page

One Pingback/Trackback