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Clinton Bashes Bush

By Brian | August 16, 2006 | Share on Facebook

I usually don’t blog so consistently on political topics, but there seem to be so many blogworthy items lately. I promise to stay on the lookout for more varied topics going forward. Heck – maybe that pizza thing will heat up again soon (Jason? Chenopup? You guys listening? Subtlety was never my strong suit…)

Anyway, Bill Clinton had a few very confusing things to say about the Middle East yesterday:

Clinton, who never mentioned Bush by name, suggested the administration’s claims that the British plot looks like the work of Al Qaeda reveals a flaw in its strategy.

“They seem to be anxious to tie it to Al Qaeda,” he said. “If that’s true, how come we’ve got seven times as many troops in Iraq as in Afghanistan? Why have we imperiled President [Hamid] Karzai’s rule and allowed the Taliban to come back into the southern part of Afghanistan?”

Hmm…two things here: first, “anxious” seems like a loaded term. I’ve heard various officials (British and American) say that the coordinated, international nature of the plot is similar to Al Qaeda’s methods, but that no clear link has been established. This always struck me as a response to the automatic and incessant questions about Al Qaeda that the press asks as soon as the subject of terrorism comes up.

Second, and more interesting, is this implication that we should have more troops in Afghanistan, and that by reducing our forces there, we’ve “imperiled Karzi’s rule.” How does this synch with the constant drumbeat of calls to draw down our troops in Iraq? Wouldn’t that imperil the Iraqi government and embolden opposing forces in the country? Forgive me if I’m projecting the standard Democratic talking points on Bill Clinton here (maybe he disagrees with some of this?), but if you’re going to advocate a “go-it-alone” strategy for the fledgling Iraqi government, you can’t very well criticize us for expecting Afghanistan, a somewhat more mature and stable government, to go it alone. If the Taliban is coming back, Karzi should take steps to remove them. If he requires assistance from his allies, he should ask. If we refuse to help, then we deserve the criticism we get…

Bill continues:

The former President also said Democrats who had voted to give Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq – including his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) – had hoped the threat of war would force former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to comply with UN inspections. But the Bush administration went to war before the UN’s work was complete, he said.

So the authorization to go to war was really an authorization to threaten war? And apparently the threat was supposed to be an empty one at that? I think Hillary’s canned response is more believable (I was for the war, but I don’t like the way the Bush administration executed the strategy). The fact that there are multiple rationales weakens them all, though.

After that, Clinton goes on to blast Lieberman for his war position (“his position was the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld position”). I hope to God the interviewer’s next question was, “Why, then, Mr. President, did you support Lieberman in the primary? Are you in favor of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld position on the war?” But I’m guessing he/she did not.

To top it all off, Clinton praised the Bush administration’s efforts to fight AIDS, telling the AIDS conference he was attending that the United States is “spending more to fight the epidemic than any other government.” First time I’ve heard praise for Bush on that front…

OK, I’ll stop now. I promise…

Topics: Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Clinton Bashes Bush”

  1. Jeff Porten says at August 17th, 2006 at 1:20 pm :
    Quick points, which I’m frankly surprised you seemingly don’t know or can’t infer:

    1) Bush wants to tie all global terrorism into al-Qaeda because his war on terror is predicated on a single enemy who can be beaten. If “terrorism” is a tactic that can be taken up by any people at any time with available resources, then the theory of going out and killing them first doesn’t hold water. More on this later in my own blog.

    2) Clinton’s comments on Afghanistan should be taken to say, “We left a dangerous place on an adventurous mission, and it was a mistake.” The people who are calling for a reduction in US troops are (largely) not saying, “To hell with Iraq.” That’s what the Republicans are saying *about* us, and perhaps it’s time you stopped accepting everything they say about their opposition without applying any critical thinking thereto.

    Personally, my thinking is that what’s needed is a reduction of US troops and a transfer of nation-building operations over to the UN, preferably after 2008 when someone other than Bolton is our representative there. But I haven’t yet seen a credible plan to that effect (which isn’t to say there isn’t one), and I’m not qualified to write one myself.

    3) Yes, many Democrats are contemporaneously on record as saying that they voted for the authorization precisely to give Bush the bully pulpit, and didn’t think he’d be so stupid as to invade without international support. You may agree with me that this makes them hopelessly naive about the depths of Bush’s stupidity and lack of grasp of international politics, but you can’t argue against the premise as a post-facto defense. IIRC, you can look up H. Clinton’s Senate floor speech when she cast her vote, which makes *exactly* the same argument, and actually made it well.

    4) Last I heard, Bush had pledged AIDS money but then hadn’t followed through on the funding. Maybe Bill’s got more recent information than I do.

  2. Brian says at August 17th, 2006 at 3:32 pm :
    1) Bush wants to tie all global terrorism into al-Qaeda because…

    That may well be true, but it doesn’t justify the accusation that they’re tying the London plane plot to Al Qaeda. If we’re going to accuse them of doing so even when all of them are saying, “there’s no evidence of that,” then we simply aren’t capable of having a rational discussion on the topic.

    2) The people who are calling for a reduction in US troops are (largely) not saying, “To hell with Iraq.” That’s what the Republicans are saying *about* us, and perhaps it’s time you stopped accepting everything they say about their opposition without applying any critical thinking thereto.

    Crap. John Murtha – 11/18/05: “[Our] troops are demoralized and poorly equipped and, after more than two years of war, are impeding Iraq’s progress toward stability and self-governance. . . Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency [that] are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence. It’s time to bring them home.”

    And then there’s the endless bickering that went on a few months back about when we should get out of Iraq. Right now? This year? By next year’s fourth of July? This is politics, not military strategy. If we had more troops in Afghanistan, these same people would be calling on the president to “bring the boys home” from there too.

    Personally, I agree with most of what you said – although I’d rather see the an Iraqi force take up the slack than a UN force. A UN force would have just about all of the legitimate problems we have there, if not the politically motivated ones. Even if the violence takes longer to subside, I think an Iraqi success in stopping it will go a long way toward building a stable nation in the long run.

    3) H. Clinton’s Senate floor speech makes *exactly* the same argument, and actually made it well.

    Read it again. I’ve pulled out the relevant passages here:

    Some people favor attacking Saddam Hussein now, with any allies we can muster. This view has appeal to some, however, this course is fraught with danger.

    Others argue that we should work through the United Nations and should only resort to force if and when the United Nations Security Council approves it. This too has great appeal for different reasons . . . but there are problems with this approach as well.

    I believe the best course is to go to the UN for a strong resolution that scraps the 1998 restrictions on inspections and calls for complete, unlimited inspections with cooperation expected and demanded from Iraq. If we get the resolution that President Bush seeks, and if Saddam complies, disarmament can proceed and the threat can be eliminated. Regime change will, of course, take longer but we must still work for it, nurturing all reasonable forces of opposition.

    If we get the resolution and Saddam does not comply, then we can attack him with far more support and legitimacy than we would have otherwise.

    Are you suggesting that we didn’t get the resolution she’s talking about, or are you suggesting Saddam complied with it?


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