Barack Obama last night, with the money:
If we were concerned about Iranian influence, we should not have had this government installed in the first place, [and] we shouldn't have invaded [Iraq] in the first place. It was part of the reason that I think it was such a profound strategic error for us to go into this war in the first place.
And that's one of the reasons why I think I will be ... the Democrat who will be most effective in going up against a John McCain, or any other Republican -- because they all want basically a continuation of George Bush's policies -- because I will offer a clear contrast as somebody who never supported this war, thought it was a bad idea. I don't want to just end the war, but I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.[emphasis added]
Being able to speak at length benefited both candidates, but obviously more so Obama in regard to Iraq and national security. His statement (of which the above is only a portion) on Iraq, which is, of course, no longer just about Iraq, was about as succinct a formulation as he has given of what he hopes to bring to American foreign policy. It's not just dealing with the crisis of the moment, it's understanding the mistakes that got us here, the flawed theoretical presuppositions which created the conditions for this crisis, and which promise more to come. It's not just challenging the politicians, experts, and activists who supported this disastrous war, but challenging the dominant elite foreign policy consensus that made this disastrous war possible, a consensus that values American global hegemony for its own sake, that equates "seriousness" with a priapic predilection toward the use of military force in furtherance of that hegemony, and in which being consistently wrong on the most important national security questions of the day is no barrier to influence and advancement, provided one is always careful to err on the side of war.
Given the demonstrable, empirical failure of conservative policy and ideology in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, this is a uniquely opportune moment for this kind of fundamental critique to be made. And Obama is uniquely positioned to make it.