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Barack and war

October 2, 2007 | 11:10 am

Barack Obama, marking the fifth anniversary of a speech in which he opposed the looming war in Iraq, extended his antiwar pitch today to include trying to put the nuclear cat back in the bag.

In remarks prepared for delivery today in Chicago (the full remarks are here), Obama said:

"We need to change our nuclear policy and our posture, which is still focused on deterring the Soviet Union -– a country that doesn’t exist.  Meanwhile, India and Pakistan and North Korea have joined the club of nuclear-armed nations, and Iran is knocking on the door. More nuclear weapons and more nuclear-armed nations mean more danger to us all.   

"Here’s what I’ll say as president: America seeks a world in which there are no nuclear weapons.

"We will not pursue unilateral disarmament. As long as nuclear weapons exist, we’ll retain a strong nuclear deterrent.  But we’ll keep our commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on the long road toward eliminating nuclear weapons. ... As we do this, we’ll be in a better position to lead the world in enforcing the rules of the road if we firmly abide by those rules.  It’s time to stop giving countries like Iran and North Korea an excuse."

It's hard to imagine any scenario in which any administration could create an environment "in which there are no nuclear weapons," but the stated goal is likely to enhance Obama's appeal to antiwar voters.  Though you can bet New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will point out that during the last Democratic debate, Obama said he couldn't pledge to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of a first term.

It's been pointed out many times, but Obama's antiwar stance was an easy one to take at the time because he was not being asked to vote on the war measure, as opponents Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden were as members of the Senate (Obama had not yet been elected).  All four senators voted for the war.  Dennis Kucinich voted against the war in the House of Representatives.

We have a follow-up item here on the Los Angeles Obama rally, which The Times' Robin Abcarian covered. A full report on the Obama day is available here.

-- Scott Martelle

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