copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert
We heard his message. The die was cast and many would perish. The safety and security of citizens within the United States was threatened. A defiant Saddam Hussein and arms in Iraq were the issues of import. Iraqi despot Hussein would not comply with demands to disarm. The Commander-In-Chief proclaimed Americans were patient; however, we could wait no longer.
The President decided it was time to take mattes into his own hands. He addressed a world audience and proclaimed.
Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.
Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.
Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.
I want to explain why I have decided, with the unanimous recommendation of my national security team, to use force in Iraq; why we have acted now; and what we aim to accomplish . . .
The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.
The United States has patiently worked to preserve [United Nations weapons inspectors] UNSCOM as Iraq has sought to avoid its obligation to cooperate with the inspectors . . . So Iraq has abused its final chance . . .
The decision to use force is never cost-free. Whenever American forces are placed in harm’s way, we risk the loss of life. And while our strikes are focused on Iraq’s military capabilities, there will be unintended Iraqi casualties . . .
Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction . . .
Because we’re acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future . . .
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.
These are the words of Bill Clinton. The date was December 16, 1998. At the time, the Republicans were skeptical. On impeachment eve as the sound of proceedings resonated within the Halls of Congress and the White House. Many thought the intent to attack Iraq served to divert attention on matters at hand. The subject of the upcoming censure was William Jefferson Clinton. At the time, White House officials insisted the President Clinton was not attempting to distract the Congress or the country. The portent of impeachment did not influence the President’s decision to attack Iraq. U.S. planes were in the air as the drone of detractors voiced cynicism about the timing of this announcement. Certainly, the question of when this nation might best assail another loomed large within the Beltway.
Just as members of Congress criticized the Commander-In-Chief in 1998, years later the former commandant railed against the man who followed him into the Oval Office. Clinton questioned why the George W. Bush White House wished to bomb Iraq when they did. Witness the words of Bill Clinton six years after his own pronouncement.
Clinton Backs Bush on Iraq War But Questions Invasion’s Timing
By John F. Harris?
Sunday, June 20, 2004; Page A04
Former president Bill Clinton said he agreed with President Bush’s decision to confront Iraq about its potential weapons programs, but thought the administration erred in starting a war in 2003 rather than allowing United Nations weapons inspectors longer to carry out their work.
“In terms of the launching of the war, I believe we made an error in not allowing the United Nations to complete the inspections process,” Clinton told CBS News’s Dan Rather in a “60 Minutes” interview to air tonight.
Clinton made similar comments in an interview with Time magazine, in which he said he “supported the Iraq thing” but questioned its timing. Portions of both interviews — part of the publicity campaign in advance of this week’s release of Clinton’s memoirs — were distributed in advance by the news organizations.
Clinton croons, ‘Time is my side; yes it is.’ It is best to move in the moment that helps maximize an individual’s personal message. In this case the person is former President Bill Clinton. When hearings were arranged and the President was to be held in contempt, the time is ripe. Bill was ready.
In 2004, as Bill promoted his newly released book, it was, once again, time to recapture the attention of Americans. Once more, the opportune moment was now. However, regardless of the instant or the message, the essence is muddled. Which statement are we to believe and which Clinton speaks the truth, or when. Bill did change his focus and alter his feelings, and Hillary does. Granted we all grow in “time;” however, the current concern is not for the change. It is the re-write of history that we must call into question.
In October 2002, the former first Lady, as Senator, expressed her support for the then President George w. Bush. She cautiously calculated the options and concluded, we, as a nation, must give Mister Bush the power to act.
In 1998, Saddam Hussein pressured the United Nations to lift the sanctions by threatening to stop all cooperation with the inspectors. In an attempt to resolve the situation, the UN, unwisely in my view, agreed to put limits on inspections of designated “sovereign sites” including the so-called presidential palaces, which in reality were huge compounds well suited to hold weapons labs, stocks, and records which Saddam Hussein was required by UN resolution to turn over. When Saddam blocked the inspection process, the inspectors left. As a result, President Clinton, with the British and others, ordered an intensive four-day air assault, Operation Desert Fox, on known and suspected weapons of mass destruction sites and other military targets.
In 1998, the United States also changed its underlying policy toward Iraq from containment to regime change and began to examine options to effect such a change, including support for Iraqi opposition leaders within the country and abroad . . .
It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.
This is a very difficult vote. This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make — any vote that may lead to war should be hard — but I cast it with conviction . . .
And perhaps my decision is influenced by my eight years of experience on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue in the White House watching my husband deal with serious challenges to our nation. I want this President, or any future President, to be in the strongest possible position to lead our country in the United Nations or in war.
Secondly, I want to insure that Saddam Hussein makes no mistake about our national unity and for our support for the President’s efforts to wage America’s war against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. And thirdly, I want the men and women in our Armed Forces to know that if they should be called upon to act against Iraq, our country will stand resolutely behind them . . .
So it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our nation. A vote for it is not a vote to rush to war; it is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of our President and we say to him – use these powers wisely and as a last resort. And it is a vote that says clearly to Saddam Hussein – this is your last chance – disarm or be disarmed.
Although, she currently claims she did not think President Bush would unilaterally attack Iraq. She thought Bush would be more prudent. Senator Clinton cast her vote based on the information she had at the time.
What Hillary won’t say about Iraq
As transcripts show, Sen. Clinton’s views on the war have slowly changed since 2002, but she still can’t say her own vote to authorize force was a mistake.
By Tim Grieve
Feb. 14, 2007
At a campaign stop in New Hampshire over the past weekend, a voter asked Hillary Clinton if she could say — “once and for all, without nuance” — that her October 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq had been a “mistake.”
Clinton couldn’t do it.
“Well,” she said, “I have said, and I will repeat it, that knowing what I know now, I would never have voted for it … I have taken responsibility for my vote. The mistakes were made by this president who misled this country and this Congress into a war that should not have been waged.”
Let’s go through that again. Clinton said that, knowing what she knows now, she wouldn’t have voted to authorize the use of force. She said that George W. Bush made mistakes. But Clinton didn’t say that she was wrong or that she made a mistake back in 2002.
Upon reflection, days, weeks, months later, some persons do not change. They consider certain types of progress a disadvantage. Resolute resolve, for persons such as Senator Clinton shows strength. With time, the telling differs, not the definition of right.
In time, people project, forget, and realize others will not recall. Thus, today, weeks before another Clinton milestone, Bill and Hillary Clinton, again consider the timing and their history. Perhaps before the Presidential hopeful is put to the ultimate test, it is time to generate a new tale.
The Iowa caucus is close at hand. The New Hampshire primaries occur within weeks. As the polls show her numbers are slipping, Hillary Clinton has reason to believe her coronation is not eminent. Bill also must acknowledge he may not be able to perform with preeminent power. Each does not wish to jeopardize their chance to reside and reign in the White House once again.
The Clinton’s, a term often adopted by supporters, are falling in the polls. The Iraq war is a popular issue amongst the public. Hence, Bill and Hillary are called upon to address this crisis. Neither wished to explain the New York Senator’s speech on the house floor in October 2002; nor do they wish to apologize. Thus, the dilemma, dichotomy, and duplicity in the Clinton camp consume the campaign.
As the pressure mounts and the public makes clear they want an end to the war in Iraq, an unapologetic Hillary took a stand against the combat. Although, Senator Clinton voted to fund the combat from before the beginning, in September she considered another option.
Clinton: I won’t fund Iraq war without withdrawal plan
Washington (CNN) — Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said Sunday she won’t vote for any more money to support the four-year-old war in Iraq without a plan to start bringing U.S. troops home.
“I’ve reached the conclusion that the best way to support our troops is begin bringing them home,” the New York senator and former first lady told CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.”
“I don’t believe we should continue to vote for funding that has an open-ended commitment, that has no pressure on the Iraqi government to make the tough political decisions they have to make, or which really gives any urgency to the Bush administration’s diplomatic efforts.”
However, days later, Hillary Clinton turned or returned to her more hawkish stance. In a MSNBC Democratic Debate held at Dartmouth College the Senator was asked why she not might commit to end the war in Iraq immediately after taking office. Once more, timing was the theme.
Hillary Clinton: Goal to remove all troops from Iraq by 2013, but no pledge
Q: In 2006, Democrats were elected to the majority in the House and Senate, and many believed that was a signal to end the war. You have said that will not pledge to have all troops out by the end of your first term, 2013. Why not?
A: It is my goal to have all troops out by the end of my first term. But it is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting. We do not know, walking into the White House in January 2009, what we’re going to find. What is the state of planning for withdrawal? That’s why last spring I began pressing the Pentagon to be very clear about whether or not they were planning to bring our troops out. And what I found was that they weren’t doing the kind of planning that is necessary, and we’ve been pushing them very hard to do so.
You know, though, about the Democrats taking control of the Congress, I think the Democrats have pushed extremely hard to change this president’s course in Iraq. The Democrats keep voting for what we believe would be a better course.
Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 26, 2007
The better course may be to stay whilst we proclaim we are and were against the mission from the first. At least that seems to be Bill Clinton’s plan. Late in November 2007. Bill Clinton states he objected to the Iraq War from the beginning, although there is much to dispute this claim.
Bill Clinton’s Claim of Opposing Iraq War From Outset Disputed
By Glenn Kessler and Anne Kornblut
Thursday, November 29, 2007; Page A08
A former senior aide to then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice disputed Bill Clinton’s statement this week that he “opposed Iraq from the beginning,” saying that the former president was privately briefed by top White House officials about war planning in 2003 and that he told them he supported the invasion.
Clinton’s comments in Iowa on Tuesday went far beyond more nuanced remarks he made about the conflict in 2003. But the disclosure of his presence in briefings by Rice — and his private expressions of support — may add to the headaches that the former president has given his wife’s campaign in recent weeks.
Hillary Mann Leverett, at the time the White House director of Persian Gulf affairs, said that Rice and Elliott Abrams, then National Security Council senior director for Near East and North African affairs, met with Clinton several times in the months before the March 2003 invasion to answer any questions he might have. She said she was “shocked” and “astonished” by Clinton’s remarks this week, made to voters in Iowa, because she has distinct memories of Abrams “coming back from those meetings literally glowing and boasting that ‘we have Clinton’s support.'”
It seems history is a matter of time. In the moment we are certain, committed, and clear. Yet, as days pass the story, his, hers, and ours changes. Perchance the Clinton’s and their Cabinet have reason to reflect and rewrite their legacy. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright certainly has. You may recall her infamous declaration . . .
“We Think the Price Is Worth It”
By Rahul Mahajan
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.
–60 Minutes (5/12/96) . . .
It’s worth noting that on 60 Minutes, Albright made no attempt to deny the figure given by Stahl–a rough rendering of the preliminary estimate in a 1995 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report that 567,000 Iraqi children under the age of five had died as a result of the sanctions.
Indeed, there was more said in this interview, all of it worrisome. Madame Secretary reflected aloud as she considered . . .
Whose fault is it? Iraq has long blamed the U.N. sanctions regime, and the U.S. State Department has long blamed Saddam Hussein. In a 1996 interview with 60 Minutes, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright admitted there was a “human tragedy” occurring in Iraq. But Albright accused Hussein of building 48 presidential palaces since the Gulf War, at a cost of $1.5 billion. Albright also said that Iraq wanted to import goods such as “Italian marble, videos, perfume, leather jackets,” and not food and medicine.
“I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it,” Albright said. “It is a moral question, but the moral question is even a larger one. Don’t we owe to the American people and to the American military and to the other countries in the region that this man not be a threat?” Albright added that her “first responsibility is to make sure that United States forces do not have to go and refight the Gulf War.”
Perhaps, in those sixty minutes Madame Secretary had too much time to speak and not enough to ponder. Years later, as the former Secretary mulled over her moments in the sun, she realized she had regrets. Albright was sorry she expressed herself as she had. In her memoirs, the Clinton Secretary of State offered her newfound rumination. Madeline Albright wrote of her responsibility and self-reproach. She blames herself, or is it Saddam Hussein she faults. It is difficult to tell.
I must have been crazy; I should have answered the question by reframing it and pointing out the inherent flaws in the premise behind it. Saddam Hussein could have prevented any child from suffering simply by meeting his obligations…. As soon as I had spoken, I wished for the power to freeze time and take back those words. My reply had been a terrible mistake, hasty, clumsy and wrong. Nothing matters more than the lives of innocent people. I had fallen into the trap and said something I simply did not mean. That was no one’s fault but my own. (p. 275)
There is one thing for sure, those in the Clinton Camp, Cabinet, campaign, or clan can certainly turn a phrase, turn time back the hands of time, and tell tales. Perhaps, they hope we the people will forget in an instant, or be mesmerized by their charm, charisma, character, or disposition, no matter how dubious.
The old adage states the ability to choose the best moment to say or do what enthralls means more than the message. Obviously, the Clintons count on that. Beguiled and bewildered Americans may cast a ballot for the Clinton’s who understand what to say and more importantly when to say it.
Perchance, Madeline Albright, who supports the second, third, or fourth Clinton term, offered a conclusion that works well at any time. When we contemplate war, be it with Iraq, Iran, or the combat that ensues during an election we must understand the principles [that guide the Clintons.]
I believe a just war is possible. According to the just war tradition, resort to force is morally acceptable if undertaken by a competent authority with moral intentions in a rightful cause. The effort must have a reasonable chance of success, with the expectation that it will result in no greater harm than the injury that produced it.
There is a time and a season for everything. If war as an option enthralls you, perhaps, this is Clinton time.
Clinton’s Cometh and Triumph In Time. . .