Friday, February 1, 2008

Clinton: Inspectors Led To War Vote

By Charles W. Kim
LOS ANGELES - Putting weapons inspectors into Iraq was the only reason New York Sen. Hillary Clinton voted for military authorization in 2003, according to the candidate.

“I was personally promised by the White House that they would use the resolution to put the inspectors into Iraq,” Clinton said Thursday night during a televised debate with Democratic rival Illinois Sen. Barack Obama on CNN.

The two remaining Democratic candidates faced off in an amiable round of questions and answers in Los Angeles, California.

When asked why she voted in 2003 to authorize the Bush administration to use force in Iraq, Clinton said she only wanted to see inspectors placed in the country to look for weapons of mass destruction, and did not expect Bush to immediately pursue a military option.

“I believe in coercive diplomacy,” Clinton said. “We have used the force of violence to change behavior.”

Obama, on the other hand, said he opposed the war from the beginning and would work on getting the troops home on his first day in office.

While pledging to end the conflict, Obama did say some troops would remain in the region to protect United States assets and people as well as humanitarian aid.

Obama also said he was best suited to represent his party because he did not vote for the resolution and could bring that argument to the American people in the November election.

“(John) McCain and the Republicans want a continuation of George Bush’s policies,” Obama said. “I will offer (the voters) a clear contrast.”

In 2003, however, Clinton met with the anti-war group Code Pink in Washington and told the organization she voted for the resolution because “we have to disarm this man (Saddam Hussein).”

During that address she told the group the United States would have to act unilaterally imposing the will of the world on the Iraqi dictator the same way President Bill Clinton did in Bosnia to end ethnic cleansing.

California student and videographer Kirsten Michel captured the exchange and placed the discussion on YouTube in January 2007.

Michel accompanied the group to Washington in 2003 to document the week of protests and ended up being arrested during a protest in front of the White House with about 20 other members.

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