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Clinton Draws a Line in the Sand over Iraq


Hillary Clinton is a once and future warrior. Campaign events in New Hampshire suggest the majority anti-war electorate has problems with her vote for the Iraq war and with her position on Iran.

On Feb. 10, New Hampshire resident Roger Tilton asked Clinton at a town-hall meeting: “I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all and without nuance, you can say that war authorization was a mistake.”

Clinton responded: “Well, I have said, and I will repeat it, that knowing what I know now, I never would have voted for it. … The mistakes were made by this president, who misled this country and this Congress into a war that should not have been waged.”

A week later, in Dover, N.H., she dug in:

“If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from. But for me, the most important thing now is trying to end this war.”

Her tough talk to anti-war voters is reminiscent of President Bush’s taunt to the Iraqi insurgents: “Bring it on.”

People’s concerns about Clinton’s Iraq war vote is of more than historical interest. History has a frightening way of repeating itself. Drop the “q,” add an “n.” Iran.

New Hampshire Peace Action director Anne Miller asked Clinton about her recent comments to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Clinton told AIPAC: “We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. And in dealing with this threat … no option can be taken off the table.”

Miller, who has visited Iran, expressed “deep concern … that we have a Democratic presidential candidate who is a militarist of this nature and that she isn’t coming out and saying we need strong diplomatic action with Iran, which is really the only answer.”

Clinton continues to invoke the now largely discredited Bush administration claim that the government of Iran is supplying high-tech weaponry to Iraqi insurgents. Even Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says there is no evidence of Iranian government involvement.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., fought the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. He said the president wants “to have the power to launch this nation into war without provocation and without clear evidence of an imminent attack on the United States, and we’re going to be foolish enough to give it to him.” Byrd seems to have known then what Clinton says she knows now. He called the resolution “dangerous” and a “blank check,” and now, with more than 3,145 U.S. soldiers killed, and with Iraq war costs through 2008 projected at more than $1 trillion, it appears he was right.

Reps. Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey also seemed to know then what Clinton says she knows now. They were lauded by the 50 activists who, on Jan. 30, 2007, occupied Clinton’s Senate office, weaving a web with pink yarn “to symbolize the senator’s web of deception and the innocent people — Americans and Iraqis — caught in it.” Protesters have promised to “bird-dog” Clinton at all her public appearances. Those actions recall the student sit-in at Clinton’s New York office on Oct. 10, 2002, while Clinton stood on the Senate floor and made her case for war.

Fully a year before she died, columnist and arch Bush critic Molly Ivins wrote: “Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone. … Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her.”

And then there’s Ralph Nader. He admits that there are good anti-war candidates, but that if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, he would be more likely to run.

Clinton has drawn the line in the sand over Iraq. She will not admit that her vote to authorize Bush to use military force in a unilateral, unprovoked war based on lies was a mistake. She is open to a military strike on Iran. Her latest message to voters: “There are others to choose from.” Anti-war voters already know that, and are lining up behind candidates Barack Obama, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and, perhaps before long, Ralph Nader.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour.

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