In this excellent article, Steve Kornacki at Salon writes that, “Americans don't think the world would be much different if he'd been president on 9/11 -- and they may be right”. Having supported Ralph Nader since 2000, many Democrats would scold and blame me and other Nader supporters for the war in Iraq. I always thought it was somewhat amusing that the people that voted for one of the pro-war candidates blame the people that voted for the anti-war candidate for one of the wars.
I’m going to leave aside for this article the fact that the Gore-Lieberman ticket got more votes in Florida and therefore won the election -- and that over 200,000 Florida Democrats voted for Bush-Cheney. The reality is that Democrats supported the war and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest Al Gore would have taken us to war in Iraq, too.
I usually would just point out that Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and most Democrats voted for the Iraq war too. Now I’m going to take my argument even further.
As Kornacki points out that there’s good reason to believe that a Gore-Lieberman administration would have taken us into war after 9/11. Some may argue that 9/11 wouldn’t have happened under Gore-Lieberman and that is also a separate argument. It should be noted that Lieberman was one of the main cheerleaders for the Iraq war and that John McCain actually wanted him to be his Vice Presidential candidate.
As I have pointed out in previous articles about the Clinton-Gore administration’s record, they were for regime change. They not only imposed sanctions that killed 1 million people -- half of them were children -- but they dropped massive amounts of bombs on the country. And they believed that Saddam Hussien had WMD’s.
I highly recommend reading Kornacki’s entire article, but here’s a excerpt.
Here it's worth remembering Gore’s own history. In the 1980s, he made his name as a senator and presidential candidate by positioning himself as one of his party’s foremost hawks. One of the reasons, in fact, that Clinton put him on the Democratic ticket in 1992 was Gore’s vote for the Gulf War, which most Democrats had opposed. You could argue that Gore was a changed man by 2001 and 2002, and that he saw the world in a fundamentally different way, and maybe that’s true.
But it should be noted that when he announced his opposition to Bush’s war push in the fall of '02, Gore endorsed the basic goal of removing Hussein and securing his (supposed) WMD stockpiles. What he objected to was more the go-it-alone nature of Bush’s approach. In other words, you could also argue that Gore, still stung by the 2000 election outcome, may have been motivated in some way by his desire to stage a big, principled fight with Bush -- and that a different result in '00 might have produced a different, more hawkish response from Gore, one that would have led to … an invasion of Iraq.
I have been told that because Gore has said he wouldn’t have gone into Iraq that the burden of proof is on me. But I would point out that his record of being a hawk, especially with regard towards Iraq, is clear. But don’t take my word for it, you can see for yourself at the links above.
It’s easy for Gore to take a different position then he had when he was in office, just as he has on the environment. (You can find the Clinton-Gore record here.) Now that he is out of power he has been liberated from the bipartisan Military Industrial Complex. But yes, we must always take politicians at their word. (wink, wink!)
Barack Obama also said that he wouldn’t have taken us to war in Iraq, but that was when he wasn’t in a position of power. Once he was elected to the Senate he voted for every Iraq war appropriation the Republicans put forward, totaling over $300 billion. He conveniently pointed out his previous opposition to the war to get an edge in the democratic primary.
He said the first thing he would do was bring the troops home and you can take that to the bank. But like so much of what he said on the campaign trial that was just overheated rhetoric. We are still at war in Iraq with no end in sight and Obama is actively working to extend our stay there.
As Matt Gonzalez pointed out in this article from 2008,
First, he opposed the war in Iraq while in the Illinois state legislature. Once he was running for US Senate though, when public opinion and support for the war was at its highest, he was quoted in the July 27, 2004 Chicago Tribune as saying, “There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who’s in a position to execute.” The Tribune went on to say that Obama, “now believes US forces must remain to stabilize the war-ravaged nation – a policy not dissimilar to the current approach of the Bush administration.”
Obama’s positions are not dissimilar to Bush’s position indeed. In fact the top CIA official has stated that Obama changed virtually none of Bush’s controversial policies. But as Jack Goldsmith pointed out in May 2009, he actually strengthened them by taking them by “converting them from right wing dogma to bipartisan consensus”.
The truth is that the Democrats may like to blame the Iraq war on George W. Bush, but they supported the war and pushed the same lies. The quagmire in Iraq -- like all of the other wars we are currently in -- is bipartisan. Americans are right to say that the world wouldn’t be much different if the Gore-Lieberman administration had taken their rightful place in the White House.
The world hasn’t changed much since Obama-Biden took over from Bush-Cheney. As Yale Professor David Bromwich points out there are “impressive-continuities” in “the Bush-Obama Presidency”. We do have more wars though.