Speech by Barack Obama
Delivered in 2002
This speech was delivered when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were talking up an invasion of Iraq, which subsequently occurred in March 2003.

Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances.

The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don’t oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain.I don’t oppose all wars.

After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this Administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. I don’t oppose all wars.

And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological 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 Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income — to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military [is] 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 war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq 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 wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

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 Bush? 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 Bush? Let’s fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

You want a fight, President Bush? 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 Bush? Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

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.

The text of this speech was copied from an article on Daily Kos
Why Clinton Lost: The Reason Nobody is Talking About

How did a minor American politician, a mere State Senator in Illinois, get it right when all these towering giants [Hillary Clinton, Thomas Friedman, Jonathan Alter, the editors of The New York Times, Washington Post, The New Republic, etc.] did not? It is not that Barack Obama had better information. It is not even because he was smarter. He simply had the courage to say what he knew to be true. He would, strangely, trust that the people he was addressing were adults.

Yeah, sure — "adults" as ignorant, as naïve and as trusting as children.

But, as with all politicians, once Obama succeeded in being elected, his campaign rhetoric was forgotten.

Within days of taking power, the Obama administration has made clear that it will escalate the war to subjugate the Afghan people, intensify US military strikes on targets inside Pakistan and continue the occupation of Iraq indefinitely. What is being prepared is a brutal escalation of US military violence in Afghanistan and a widening of the conflagration in the region. ...

Millions of Americans were channelled into voting for Obama and the Democratic Party by the illusion that they would implement a decisive shift away from the militarism and neo-colonial interventions that marked the Bush years. Instead, they face an administration that is just as determined as Bush's to use brute military force to secure the economic and strategic interests of American imperialism.

— James Cogan: Obama's program of war

Obama was only superficially selected as U.S. President by those Americans who bothered to vote. In reality he was selected (even before the presidential campaign began) by those of the ruling elite who actually run the U.S. The voters were given a choice between, on the one hand, a well-spoken, highly intelligent man perceived to be a member of a group who had been unjustly treated for generations, and, on the other, an uninspiring geriatric warmonger partnered with a woman not only intellectually shallow but also completely lacking any qualities of statesmanship, and furthermore belonging to a religious sect which perceives itself as pivotal in the Christian fundamentalist effort to retake the Earth for God. It's hardly surprising that so many voted for Obama (and it wasn't even necessary this time to rely on rigged voting machines). Democracy in the U.S. is a farce, and the useful idiots who still have faith in it will never learn.

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