Tuesday, November 15, 2005

John Edwards on Iraq Vote: “I Was Wrong”

While it may be easier for him to do now that he is out of office, John Edwards has come right out and said what everyone who gave George W. Bush authority to start a war with Iraq should say: “I was wrong.”

In a statement posted on his web site on Saturday and that appeared in the Washington Post on Sunday, Edwards expresses his regrets.

“Almost three years ago, we went into Iraq to remove what we were told — and many of us believed and argued — was a threat to America,” wrote Edwards. “But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.”

And he says the words that many of us have been waiting to hear and that, frankly, both he and John Kerry should have said in 2004: “It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002.”

“I take responsibility for that mistake,” wrote the former vice-presidential candidate. “It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake — the men and women of our armed forces and their families — have performed heroically and paid a very dear price. It is not right, just or fair that we made a mistake, but they pay for that mistake.”

There. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

I have long wondered why it has been impossible to get any elected Democrat to admit that the vote authorizing Bush to take us to war was a mistake. In even the most cynical political terms, it is an admission that has an iron-clad and understandable escape hatch -- the vote was given under false pretenses and after months of pre-war lying by an executive branch that our elected officials assumed they could trust. Rings true to me – because it is.

Edwards goes on to slap down the notion that our continued presence in Iraq is doing anything but diminishing the security of America and the world.

“Because of these failures, Iraq is a mess and has become a far greater threat than it actually ever was. It is now a haven for terrorists, and our presence there is draining the goodwill that our country once enjoyed, diminishing our global standing. It has made fighting the global war against terrorist organizations more difficult, not less.”

Finally, Edwards urges anyone calling themselves a leader in this country to get on the bus and own up to their part in this travesty.

“America's leaders — all of us — need to accept the responsibility we each carry for how we got to this place. Over 2,000 Americans have lost their lives in this war; and over 150,000 are fighting there today. They and their families deserve honesty from our country's leaders. And they also deserve a clear plan for a way out.”

Better late than never, Mr. Edwards. Better late than never.