Obama in 2002 made a now famous speech about the Iraq War. That speech is updated for today in light of his decision to engage Libya, in the same cynical manner in which his 2002 speech was made.
Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-Obama rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to Obama in all circumstances.
Closing Guantanamo Bay is one of the most acrimonious foreign policy debates today. And yet, it is only through the crucible of having President Obama being actually responsible for the war on terror, facing the threats of multitudes who would kill us, that some Americans could begin to understand that keeping it open helps keep us safe.
I don’t oppose all Obama policies.
After Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan in November of 2009, after hearing from friends and warriors in the battle there, I supported the mission to finish the job in that country, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevail in that mission should it be necessary.
I don’t oppose all military engagements. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of Americans who can work in a bi-partisan fashion when the interests of America are put above party or ideology.
But what I am opposed to is a dumb Obama decision. What I am opposed to is a politically motivated Obama decision. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Susan Rice and Samantha Power and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own political agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Hillary Clinton to distract us from the unprecedented federal deficit, the continuing high unemployment – to distract us from government scandals and a Congress that can’t pass a federal budget.
That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb Obama decision. A rash Obama decision. An Obama decision based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Muammar Kaddafi. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied international demands, thwarted international sanctions, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.
He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Libyan people, would be better off without him.
But I also know that Kaddafi poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Libyan economy is in shambles, that the Libyan military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.
I know that even a successful military effort against Libya will require US involvement of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that bombing Libya without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.
I am not opposed to all military efforts. I’m opposed to dumb military efforts.
So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a fight, President Obama? Let’s finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.
You want a fight, President Obama? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.
You want a fight, President Obama? Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply put faith in windmills and solar panels and rainbows and unicorns, but explores and exploits our own resources without intervention from an abusive federal government that only empowers the Middle East through its policies.
Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join.
The battles against ignorance and intolerance, corruption and greed, poverty and despair.
The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not — we will not — travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.