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June 23, 2004

Clinton: Sham Inspections Should Have Been Shamier

There's one thing to be said for Bill Clinton: he's consistent. More than three years after he left the White House, it's still impossible to understand what the hell he's actually saying.

For instance, in publicity for his book Clinton is often being asked whether invading Iraq was a good idea. And he's generally claiming it was a bad idea to launch the war without further Unmovic inspections. But does this mean he would have been against launching the war if Iraq had been found in compliance, as it obviously would have been? Well... he never comes out and says it. In fact, he seems to be saying we should have waited for further inspections and then invaded no matter what:

"I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq, even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over," the former president said. "I would not have done it until after [former U.N. chief weapons inspector] Hans Blix finished his job."
-- Reuters
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.
-- 60 Minutes
My view was that we shouldn't attack until the UN inspectors are finished and they can say, "He [Saddam] did or did not comply."
-- The Guardian
MICHAEL DUFFY: When it comes to Iraq, he says he absolutely supported Bush's efforts to get back in the inspections game. He says we didn't know what they had after 1998. He says the US was flying blind, and he really did support Bush going back and taking a really hard look. Where he thinks to draw a line is he says "I wouldn't have invaded as early or as quickly as Bush did." But Clinton left us no doubt when we interviewed him last week that he would have possibly eventually invaded just like Bush did.
-- NPR

In other words, Clinton appears to mean we should have looked upon the whole inspections process as a sham, designed to garner further support for something we were going to do anyway. Of course, this makes no sense, since we would have had even less international support the longer inspections went on.

Thank goodness no journalist has followed up with Clinton by asking the obvious questions about this. Then we might have a clear idea of what powerful political figures are saying. And that must be avoided at all costs.

Finally, it's worth noting that when Clinton says, "I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq," he means, "I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the vast majority of humanity on Iraq."

Posted at June 23, 2004 02:37 PM | TrackBack

Well, maybe he doesn't realize that there were no weapons. I can see not reading the newspaper as closely after eight stressful years as president.

I get very upset thinking about the possibility that Gore would have gone into Iraq, too -- upset on a lot of different levels.

Posted by: Adam Kotsko at June 23, 2004 04:36 PM

Well, I suppose there is a possibility that Gore would have gone into Iraq too, but it seems less likely. Bush went in only after a campaign of disinformation and with the full support of his base. Gore would have had to fight against Republicans (remember how they reacted to intervening in Kosovo?) and members of his own party, and I don't know if he could have mustered 50% of popular support. And he wouldn't have been living in the neocon echo chamber, like our poor small-brained suggestible CEO of America.

Seems much more likely to me Gore would have stayed focused on Afghanistan and actual terrorists, and perhaps made at least a half-ass attempt to do the job properly. But it's all moot now.

Posted by: Ted at June 23, 2004 06:37 PM

And [Gore] wouldn't have been living in the neocon echo chamber

Oh, I don't know about that. He picked a neocon for his vice president. Lieberman was one of the biggest agitators in Congress for the "Iraqi Liberation Act", and even NOW is ready to defend the invasion.

Posted by: Nell Lancaster at June 30, 2004 07:01 PM