Obama won’t hesitate to end the war

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By Rick Howell

Recently, Sen. Barack Obama made some innocent remarks about his policy regarding the Iraq war in anticipation of a planned visit there. While the senator indicated that developments in the country might possibly affect his withdrawal timetable, he had certainly not changed his policy in any important way.

The McCain campaign was quick to say that Obama was suddenly seeing things their way, that he had “flip-flopped” and was not reliable on the war, foreign policy, etc., etc. But they were wrong.

Obama, saying he’d been surprised by the uproar, insisted that when he becomes president he will call in the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and tell him that he has a new order: end the war.

The candidate later gave a speech in which he left no doubt that he felt the war was a mistake and that it had to come to an end, sooner rather than later.

For many of us - meaning Americans who support Obama - it was his position on the war that first attracted us to him. As a state senator in Illinois in 2002, the time when Bush was “preparing” the country for war (which really means fine-tuning the propaganda package of lies and distortions he used to sell it), Obama made a speech against it.

In that address, he proved very prophetic. He said we couldn’t be sure if Iraq actually had “weapons of mass destruction.” He was right. He said that removing a stable regime, even if it was a cruel dictatorship, might create an opening for a new power, Syria or Iran, to emerge as a regional troublemaker. He was right.

He said, too, that the war might last longer than we thought, costing more in lives and money than Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld anticipated. Again, he was absolutely right.

While some other Democrats, and almost all Republicans, were voting for the war resolution in Congress, putting themselves on the wrong side of history (not to mention decency), Obama saw the situation clearly. He still sees it clearly.

In what was billed as a “major address” on Iraq about two weeks ago, Obama said this: “I am absolutely convinced that strategically it is time for this war to end.” He added that the continuing conflict was a distraction from every other problem we have: “Perpetuating the strategy we have in Iraq is costing us elsewhere, not just in Afghanistan but also (in) investments that we could be making here at home.”

In other words, we have spent a truly obscene amount of money in a war that we never should have started. In was, in fact, a mistake from the very beginning. The loss of lives, for Americans and so-called coalition troops, is a disgrace but, sadly, does not compare to the hundreds of thousands Iraqi lives lost. The Iraqi people have paid a terrible price for our attempt to “liberate” them.

If elected president, Obama will bring the mess to an end. John McCain won’t. Iraq must not be allowed to drag on the way Vietnam did. When do we, as a nation, ever learn from these mistakes?

— In another matter, I’ve noticed that Bedford’s Modern Day Johnny Rebs have been rallying under their slavery flags after the incident at Liberty High School.

I saw the question posed: “What would General Lee do?”

The answer: Lee surrendered.