Novak falsely claimed Clinton did not argue "until her presidential campaign" that Levin amendment would subordinate U.S. decisions to the U.N.

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

While writing that Sen. Clinton said "she opposed the Levin amendment to the 2003 [sic] Iraq war resolution because it would 'subordinate' U.S. decision-making to the United Nations," Robert Novak falsely claimed that Clinton "made no such claim until her presidential campaign." In fact, the same day Clinton voted on Sen. Carl Levin's proposed amendment to the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, she gave a floor speech that included her reason for opposing a proposal that the United States "should only resort to force if and when the United Nations Security Council approves it."

While writing that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) said during the January 31 Democratic presidential debate that "she opposed the Levin amendment to the 2003 [sic] Iraq war resolution because it would 'subordinate' U.S. decision-making to the United Nations," conservative columnist Robert Novak falsely claimed in his February 4 column that Clinton "made no such claim until her presidential campaign." In fact, the same day Clinton voted on Sen. Carl Levin's (D-MI) proposed amendment to the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, she gave a floor speech that, while not mentioning the Levin amendment by name, included her reason for opposing a proposal that she said provided that the United States "should only resort to force if and when the United Nations Security Council approves it."

Asked about the amendment during the January 31 Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles, Clinton asserted:

CLINTON: The way that amendment was drafted suggested that the United States would subordinate whatever our judgment might be going forward to the United Nations Security Council. I don't think that was a good precedent. Therefore, I voted against it.

During the 2002 debate over the Iraq war resolution, Clinton addressed the substance of the amendment - though she did not mention it by name - and made substantively the same claim. Clinton asserted that while some "argue that we should work through the United Nations and should only resort to force if and when the United Nations Security Council approves it... there are problems with this approach as well." She went on to assert that the U.N. "is an organization that is still growing and maturing," and that the U.N. "often lacks the cohesion to enforce its own mandates." She continued, "And when Security Council members use the veto, on occasion, for reasons of narrow-minded interests, it cannot act."

From Clinton's October 10, 2002, floor speech:

CLINTON: Others argue that we should work through the United Nations and should only resort to force if and when the United Nations Security Council approves it. This too has great appeal for different reasons. The UN deserves our support. Whenever possible we should work through it and strengthen it, for it enables the world to share the risks and burdens of global security and when it acts, it confers a legitimacy that increases the likelihood of long-term success. The UN can help lead the world into a new era of global cooperation and the United States should support that goal.

But there are problems with this approach as well. The United Nations is an organization that is still growing and maturing. It often lacks the cohesion to enforce its own mandates. And when Security Council members use the veto, on occasion, for reasons of narrow-minded interests, it cannot act. In Kosovo, the Russians did not approve NATO military action because of political, ethnic, and religious ties to the Serbs. The United States therefore could not obtain a Security Council resolution in favor of the action necessary to stop the dislocation and ethnic cleansing of more than a million Kosovar Albanians. However, most of the world was with us because there was a genuine emergency with thousands dead and a million driven from their homes. As soon as the American-led conflict was over, Russia joined the peacekeeping effort that is still underway.

In the case of Iraq, recent comments indicate that one or two Security Council members might never approve force against Saddam Hussein until he has actually used chemical, biological, or God forbid, nuclear weapons.

From Novak's February 4 column:

But that raises the question of why the issue is still in doubt. McAuliffe, now the Clinton campaign's national chairman, calculated that front-loading would make his candidate the de facto nominee by now so energy could be devoted full time to attacking the Republicans and raising funds to use against them.

The answer can be found in the surprising list of senators who endorsed Obama after Clinton won the New Hampshire primary: Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. A freshman, McCaskill is the least prominent of the group, but she has attracted favorable attention during her first year in the Senate as a principled independent. She was campaigning hard last week for Obama in Missouri against her sister senator.

Senatorial support of Obama helps explain why the McAuliffe plan failed. In addition to habitual Democratic resistance to being controlled, many of Clinton's colleagues simply do not trust her. They complain that in Thursday's debate from Los Angeles she repeated that she opposed the Levin amendment to the 2003 Iraq war resolution because it would "subordinate" U.S. decision-making to the United Nations. It did not, and Clinton made no such claim until her presidential campaign. That kind of performance has helped create the stalemate.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Person
Robert Novak
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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