Davis wrong; ’02 war premise was not universally accepted

I write in response to the Lanny Davis op-ed that questions the stands of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) on the Iraq war resolution (op-ed, “Three questions on Iraq war must be put to Obama, Edwards,” Feb. 21). Mr. Davis poses three questions that he feels have been properly answered by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and should be answered by her competitors.

First, he asks if they believed that Saddam possessed WMDs at the time of the October 2002 vote. Here he assumes the answer is yes, because virtually everyone believed it at the time. I differ on this because I didn’t believe it at the time. I looked at the evidence presented by Colin Powell to the United Nations. I saw drawings of mobile labs and aerial photographs of buildings. Drawings and incomprehensible photos did not convince me. I read stories about aluminum tubes that could only be used for centrifuges, according to some experts. I read stories by others who said that they could not be used as centrifuges. I think the reality is that many senators supported the resolution as a political necessity in advance of an election soon after 9/11.

Second, would it have been a mistake even if you believed that Iraq had WMDs? I would argue that it was indeed a mistake even if Saddam had these weapons. Clinton and others have argued that they did not vote for a rush to war. I think that it was patently obvious at the time that there was little that was going to stop Bush from going to war and a vote of “yes” only facilitated it. If Saddam had weapons, he was certainly well contained.

He was not considered a threat by his neighbors and he posed no serious threat to American and British forces enforcing the no-fly zones.

Third, how would they have gotten Saddam to dismantle any WMD programs? We had stronger international support than at any time in the recent past to implement a strong inspections regime using the same inspectors who have now told us that there were no weapons. We had a U.N. resolution with teeth, and Saddam could see what was happening in Afghanistan.

I don’t see Obama or Edwards or even the questioner from the audience in New Hampshire as questioning Clinton’s decision being based on good faith. We are asking that she admit a mistake. This is something the Bush administration has been unable to do. I would suggest that Mr. Davis allow that Obama’s decision not to support the war was “one of consistency, taken in good faith” and, in foresight to many and hindsight to most, was the correct decision.

Washington, D.C.

More on Davis’s op-ed: ‘Here is the answer’

From Brent Budowsky, contributing editor, Fighting Dems News Service

Here is the answer to Lanny Davis, which I and others who opposed the Iraq war in 2002 tried to convey to senior members of Congress. Even if Saddam was developing WMD, the inevitable result of a U.S. invasion is what has now happened: chaos and sectarian carnage. Had Saddam been developing WMD they might well have fallen into the hands of terrorists. Our occupation could not even secure rifles. …

Washington, D.C.