On October 11, 2002, a large bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate voted for a joint resolution authorizing the use of U.S. military force in Iraq. And while in this year’s presidential election many people are focusing on then-New York Senator Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of the war resolution, one now-former Republican senator from Oregon barely received any notice for his vote.
Indeed, not many people were shocked when Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) cast his vote authorizing the use of military force in Iraq, however, what most people did not know was that his decision wasn’t based solely on the “evidence” provided by the George W. Bush administration.
A recently released leaked video from 2002 shows the Republican senator admitting to Mormon church leaders that he had religious motivations for endorsing the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
“‘I know and have been a critic of the Iraq war, but I also admit to you that I voted for it because I felt the Lord’s hand in it,’ Smith said. ‘I hope it works out, but I can promise you this: You’ll never send missionaries to the Arab street until the rule of law exists in Arabia, and it has taken root in Iraq. And ultimately, if that succeeds, there will be an opportunity to begin building the church in the Middle East, which is a deeply troubled place.'”
Smith makes his remarks around the 13:15 mark.
Some credit Smith for harshly criticizing the Bush administration’s handling of the war early on, and his 2007 vote for a resolution that was aimed at withdrawing troops from Iraq. However, those actions pale in comparison to the former senator’s dark and dangerous motivation for getting the U.S. into an unnecessary war, to begin with.
The dangers of religious zealots like Smith can not be overstated, and their political power needs to be challenged at every turn. One can only hope that Americans have grown wise enough to distrust any politician who claims that God wants their children to fight and die on foreign soil.