Sunday, June 08, 2008

Compilation of statements on Iraq by Democrats et al

One of the most dismaying aspects of the Democrats' cynical use of the Iraq mission against President Bush has been the wilfully false premise that the responsibility for OIF belongs entirely to President Bush, as though it was a conspiracy entirely hatched within the Bush administration after 9/11. In fact, Democrats and President Bush were of a mind on Iraq; the more accurate characterization is that President Bush inherited, adopted, and furthered his predecessor's and, by extension, the Democrats' agenda on Iraq.

Since 2003, I've used several well-known President Clinton statements to remind people that OIF has non-partisan historical roots. Examples:

President Bill Clinton, December 12, 1998 (Operation Desert Fox):

"The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world.”

”The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government -- a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. Bringing change in Baghdad will take time and effort."

President Bill Clinton, October 31, 1998 (Iraq Liberation Act):

"The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.”

”The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else.”

”The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life."

Former President Bill Clinton, July 22, 2003 (CNN with Larry King):

"Let me tell you what I know. When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. That is, at the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what he had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it. But we didn't know. So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions."

"It is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons. We might have destroyed them in '98. We tried to, but we sure as heck didn't know it because we never got to go back in there. And what I think -- again, I would say the most important thing is we should focus on: What's the best way to build Iraq as a democracy?"

"We should be pulling for America on this. We should be pulling for the people of Iraq."
For more, see this impressive compilation of statements by Democrats and others favoring intervention in Iraq. It was recommended to me by commenter bg at Belmont Club.




Blogger bn1 said...

Every president makes his (ah,yes, their still is not the prospect of "her")decisions in national security matters. Whatever the pre-Bush record may be--the fact is that Bill Clinton did not give green light to invade Iraq but the current president did based on questionable justifications. The fact that there was talk about invading Iraq one day after 9/11 in the White House reveals the mindset of those charged with national security matters.
I know that decisions that become issues are clearer in hindsight but in this particular case there seems little doubt that 9/11 was immediately recognized by neo-conservatives as a golden opportunity to push their Middle East agenda.

6/08/2008 8:37 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Professor Nacos,

President Clinton didn't authorize a ground invasion in Iraq anymore than he authorized one for the Balkans. Under Clinton, for the same reasons we sent ground forces to Baghdad in 2003, we merely bombed and starved Iraq. Clinton pinpointed the cause of the Iraq dilemma as Saddam's regime and declared it had to go, yet stood by while the same unacceptable regime remained in power on our watch. Thereby, Iraq's degradation was sped up by two sources of pressure: the internal corruption and tyranny and the external pressure applied by us.

How many American Secretaries of State were going to announce that it was worth it for 500,000 Iraqi children to die so that the UN and US could continue a once-finite disarmament mission that had transformed somehow into an endless sanctioning and containment of Iraq ... which we continued for 4.5 years even after it was formally declared a failure by President Clinton?

Since OIF, partisan critics have cried about Bush's naivete to court Iraqi civil war, when under Clinton in 1998, we actually set a formal policy of encouraging internal Iraqi revolt - 7 years after many Iraqis believed enough in America to actually revolt, only to be grossly betrayed as Saddam's regime crushed them as the US and UN refused to protect them.

Meanwhile, Al Qaeda cited our 1990s mission in Iraq as the cornerstone of its rationale to wage global war against us. (Not that Al Qaeda can't manufacture a 1000 reasons to fight us, but our pre-OIF Iraq mission was the reason that held the widest appeal in the Muslim world.)

There was a golden moment after the Cold War, when it seemed like America's liberal promise to the world could really be fulfilled. We squandered the opportunity in Iraq. Our Iraq mission under first Bush the elder, then Clinton, made us out to be hypocrites.

This Bush Administration, neocons included, did take a step forward in Iraq for OIF, but it was an entirely unoriginal step. It, in fact, was the only step left by the Clinton Administration to take in Iraq after 1998 (other than surrendering the Iraq mission entirely and restoring full sovereignty to a victoriously patient Saddam).

So - why was there talk of regime change in Iraq so soon after 9/11? Because with Operation Desert Fox, Clinton declared the 1990s Iraq mission a failure, which meant there remained only more level for us to escalate our enforcement against Saddam's regime - regime change. By the time the Bush Administration took its hand-off from its Democrat predecessor, *all* the arguments, reasons, precedents, and policy for intervention in Iraq had already been established. The only thing left to do in Iraq was the doing.

Not coincidentally, if America can still salvage any of our once-golden liberal promise to the world, we will find it in the same place we lost it - in Iraq.

More President Clinton, 1998:

"Iraq has abused its final chance."

"The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance."

"Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people."

"And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them."

"In the century we're leaving, America has often made the difference between chaos and community, fear and hope. Now, in the new century, we'll have a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past, but only if we stand strong against the enemies of peace.

Tonight, the United States is doing just that."

6/13/2008 8:20 PM  

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