Hillary Clinton, the political chameleon par excellence, is triangulating her position on the Iraq War in a cynical effort to appear tough-minded and to placate the antiwar, leftist base at the same time. She is now proclaiming. “[I]f we in Congress don’t end this war before January of 2009, as president I will.” Following in the footsteps of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, who used their promises to end the Korean War and Vietnam War respectively to win their races for the White House, Hillary is gambling that she can outflank John Edwards and Barack Obama as the antiwar candidate during the primaries while sounding resolute to the general electorate. But hollow campaign promises and tough rhetoric do not equal meaningful results.
We all know what happened after Tricky Dick got elected in 1968. Nixon had suggested that he had a secret plan to end the war, but as his first Secretary of Defense, Melvin R. Laird, admitted years later, there was no such plan. Instead, the Vietnam War escalated and dragged on for years. After we finally did leave Vietnam in the mid-Seventies under pressure from antiwar protestors like Hillary, millions of innocent people were tragically slaughtered in Vietnam and Cambodia. As for the Korean War, we still have thousands of soldiers stationed on the Korean Peninsula 50 years later, and North Korea is now a nuclear menace. Postponing a problem for future generations is not the same as solving it.
Hillary, of course, is no war hero like General Eisenhower was when he ran for president. His able military leadership during World War II at least lent some credibility to his assertions about being able to successfully end a much smaller conflict in Korea. Even Nixon had decades of foreign policy experience under his belt and a reputation for being a tough anti-Communist. Although she dabbles in military matters as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Hillary has shown little evidence of accomplishment on national security matters that would give one confidence that she is capable of making life-and-death decisions as commander-in-chief. Remember that this was the Wellesley College flower child of the 1960’s, who championed the New Left and denounced “our prevailing, acquisitive, and competitive corporate life” in her much talked about 1969 commencement speech.
And it is the same Hillary who, as a more mature adult during the 1980’s, served as chair of the New World Foundation, which reportedly donated money to socialist causes and to the Boston-based Grassroots International, which in turn funded PLO-affiliated groups on the West Bank. Her grant benefited this group while its beneficiary, the PLO, was busy killing innocent Jewish Israelis – and Americans. Hillary has subsequently denied any responsibility, saying, “[I]f the money was diverted I knew nothing about it.” But consider that, as First Lady, Hillary entertained and received gifts from pro-Hamas American-Muslim groups and embraced Yasser Arafat’s wife on an official visit to Ramallah right after Ms. Arafat concluded a vicious anti-Israel speech.
This record of obliviousness to what her organization was doing and her own lack of judgment in coddling terrorists does not auger well for her ability to lead our country in time of war.
True leadership also requires having the courage of one’s convictions. Unlike both Eisenhower and Nixon who were not in any position of power when they made their end-the-war campaign pledges, Hillary is now in a position as a Senate leader in the majority party to put her money where her mouth is. As President Bush himself recognizes, Congress has the power – right now – to fully or partially defund the Iraq War. The Democrats control both houses of Congress. But Hillary does not want to put her neck out to exercise Congress’ Constitutional check over the president’s war-making powers. Her argument is that the war opponents in Congress do not have enough votes other than to pass a toothless non-binding resolution criticizing the president’s troops surge. Perhaps, but she is not willing to even try. Yet she expects us to believe that as president she will suddenly find her spine and magically end the war all by herself.
Let’s remember that this is the same Hillary Clinton who told Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard in late 2003, “[T]he intelligence from Bush 1 to Clinton to Bush 2 was consistent” about Saddam Hussein having Weapons of Mass Destruction. She also said at the time that she had done her own “due diligence,” including consulting national security officials from her husband’s administration whom she trusted. With that kind of consistent intelligence, and our inability to verify its accuracy without an unfettered inspection that Saddam Hussein consistently blocked, would Hillary have made the decision to take down Hussein by force? She authorized Bush to do so, believing in a post-9/11 world, that it was better to use military force (even if we were to discover that Saddam Hussein did not have the WMDs her sources insisted he possessed), rather than learning too late that he had transferred them to a stateless terrorist organization.
With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, and as the Democratic presidential primary season draws closer, Hillary now says: “I want to be very clear about this: If I had been president in October of 2002, I would not have started this war.” One can almost hear Richard Nixon’s voice in his oft-repeated phrase: “Let me make this perfectly clear!”
Hillary is fanning the American electorate’s disillusionment with the war for her own political ends. She will do anything and say anything to get elected. All that Iran, al-Qaeda, and the enemy combatants in Iraq whom they are supporting need to do is continue putting the squeeze on our troops and to wreak more havoc on the Iraqi populace. Knowing that this will fuel the sense of hopelessness about the war in America that will ensure Hillary’s election as the newly minted antiwar savior with her knight Bill by her side, the terrorists will get their prize in Iraq: a base to spread their bloody jihad globally.
In her Wellesley commencement speech, young Hillary Rodham was at least an idealist who tried to be true to her core values, as misguided as they may have been. She described integrity this way: “If the only tool we have ultimately to use is our lives, so we use it in the way we can by choosing a way to live that will demonstrate the way we feel and the way we know.” (Got that?) Unfortunately, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the senator and presidential candidate, has long since shirked any responsibility for her own choices, and she has no core values at all except her own self-aggrandizement. How can she possibly expect us to entrust her now with our lives?
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