Obama’s Shifting Positions on Iraq: A Rezko Connection?


The time line of Obama’s flip-flops on Iraq just happens to correlate to his friend’s business dealings in that country.

Barack Obama’s position on Iraq has shifted significantly over the last six years. What is interesting is how his position on Iraq matches up with developments in Chicago. Specifically, there appears to be a direct correlation between the rising and falling prospects of his longtime friend and fundraiser Tony Rezko’s attempts to secure multi-million-dollar contracts to build and operate a power plant in Kurdish Iraq and the senator’s Iraq flip-flops.

On October 2, 2002, Obama gave a speech categorically opposing an invasion of Iraq. He said:

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. 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.

But on April 5, 2004, Barack Obama appeared to significantly alter his position on Iraq. A YouTube video of Obama shows the incredulity on the interviewer’s face as Obama unexpectedly sounded almost like President Bush on the subject of retaining troops in Iraq.

Interviewer: But you said that troops should be withdrawn.

Obama: No, no. I’ve never said that troops should be withdrawn. What I’ve said is that we’ve got to make sure that we secure and execute the rebuilding and reconstruction process effectively and properly and I don’t think we should have an artificial deadline when to do that. What’s important is that we have a long-term plan in process and short-term security strategy.

It’s been suggested that that change in the senator’s position from opposition to a stern refusal to leave until the job had been finished can be explained by the unexpected ease with which the campaign had gone up till that time. But that doesn’t quite square with the facts. April 2004 was in fact the bloodiest month in the Iraq campaign till then and the start of the Sunni insurgency and Moqtada al-Sadr’s uprising. On March 31, 2004, Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah ambushed a Blackwater convoy and hung the mutilated bodies of the Americans on the bridge. Wikipedia recounts the rush of bloody events which followed:

On April 3, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force received a written command from the Joint Task Force, ordering offensive operations against Fallujah. This order went against the wishes of the Marine commanders on the ground who wanted to conduct surgical strikes and raids against those suspected of involvement in the Blackwater deaths.

On the night of April 4, the U.S. forces launched a major assault in an attempt to “re-establish security in Fallujah” by encircling it with around 2,000 troops. At least four homes were hit in aerial strikes, and there was sporadic gunfire throughout the night.

By the morning of April 5, headed by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, American units had surrounded the city with an aim towards retaking it. American troops blockaded roads leading into the city, with Humvees and concertina wire, and took over a local radio station, and handed out leaflets urging residents to remain inside their homes, and help American forces identify insurgents and any Fallujans who were involved in the Blackwater deaths.

Obama’s change of tone in 2004 was so noticeable that Howard Kurtz couldn’t help but notice how striking the Illinois senator’s position was in mid-2004. Obama was quoted 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.

Pajamas Media/Richard Fernandez, aka Belmont Club

This dude has flipped so many times, he should change his name to “Burger” Obama.

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