Monday, September 19, 2005

The King of Chutzpah

It's amazing how ex-President Bill Clinton has launched a new critique of the Bush Administration that, for the most part, echoes the conservative critique of the Clinton Administration. Take for example his statements against the decision to go to war as reported by
"The administration ... decided to launch this invasion virtually alone and before the U.N. inspections were completed - with no real urgency, no evidence that there were any weapons of mass destruction there," he complained to ABC's "This Week."
Left unsaid is the fact that Clinton spent most of the '90s launching intermittent attacks on Iraq under the same conditions -- unfinished inspections, no real urgency, no evidence of WMDs -- that were in place in 2003. He also stated that:
"I thought that diverted our attention from [Afghanistan] and al Qaida and undermined the support that we might have had," he said. "But what's done is done."
Given that it usually takes a female intern in thong underwear to distract our president's attention away from Afghanistan and al Qaida, we ought to be congratulating President Bush for his exceptional focus on al Qaida and Afghanistan.

For a more concrete example of hypocrisy, take the common liberal criticism that Vice-President Cheney promised that American troops would be greeted as liberators by the grateful people of Iraq. Obviously the popular response to the downfall of Saddham was less than universal praise, but the Bush Administration is at least attempting to defeat the terrorist insurgency that arose. Contrast this with our humanitarian intervention in Somalia during the Clinton Administration, which should theoretically have produced nothing but smiles and flowers as we distributed vital aid to a uniformly grateful population. Unfortunately, our President at the time had the option of bravely running away from the situation when al Qaida dispelled the illusions of the people in charge.

In hindsight, the Clinton Administration approach to using military force looks as if the Daschle Principle was the guiding philosophy: if even one person dies because force was used without exhausting every conceivable diplomatic alternative, then the use of force was a failure. Presumably the object of this principle is to demoralize an opponent into surrender with symbolic attacks that preclude retaliation. In the case of Slobodan Milošević, the Daschle Principle was implemented as our "video game" style of air warfare and turned out to be successful. In the case of al Qaida, the Daschle Principle was seized upon by Osama bin Laden as proof positive that the United States was too decadent to resist an Islamic terror campaign. Given that al Qaida's terror attacks against the United States generally involved minimal terrorist casualties and symbolic targets (the World Trade Center buildings come to mind) with the goal of mass demoralization of the American people (the financial catastrophe that Osama bin Laden expected after 9/11, for example), one is tempted to assert that the Daschle Principle is essentially a projection of the Clinton Administration's view of America's weaknesses onto our enemies.


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