Thursday, January 18, 2007


Bottom Line Up Front: The war in Iraq is not “Bush’s war”, it is America’s war and it has been since the early 1990’s. In 1998, then President Bill Clinton on the eve of presidential impeachment hearings signed into law The Iraq Liberation Act which committed U.S. money to supporting the overthrow of a dangerous Saddam Hussein and laid out U.S. policy as supporting a free Iraq.

October 31, 1998


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
October 31, 1998


Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.” This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers.

Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: 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.

My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership.

In the meantime, while the United States continues to look to the Security Council’s efforts to keep the current regime’s behavior in check, we look forward to new leadership in Iraq that has the support of the Iraqi people. The United States is providing support to opposition groups from all sectors of the Iraqi community that could lead to a popularly supported government.

On October 21, 1998, I signed into law the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, which made $8 million available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition. This assistance is intended to help the democratic opposition unify, work together more effectively, and articulate the aspirations of the Iraqi people for a pluralistic, participatory political system that will include all of Iraq’s diverse ethnic and religious groups. As required by the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for FY 1998 (Public Law 105-174), the Department of State submitted a report to the Congress on plans to establish a program to support the democratic opposition. My Administration, as required by that statute, has also begun to implement a program to compile information regarding allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes by Iraq’s current leaders as a step towards bringing to justice those directly responsible for such acts.

The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 provides additional, discretionary authorities under which my Administration can act to further the objectives I outlined above. There are, of course, other important elements of U.S. policy. These include the maintenance of U.N. Security Council support efforts to eliminate Iraq’s weapons and missile programs and economic sanctions that continue to deny the regime the means to reconstitute those threats to international peace and security. United States support for the Iraqi opposition will be carried out consistent with those policy objectives as well. Similarly, U.S. support must be attuned to what the opposition can effectively make use of as it develops over time. With those observations, I sign H.R. 4655 into law.



October 31, 1998.

Well, whaddya know! It looks like this isn’t “Bush’s war” after all. Democratic opposition is simply a political concoction. This is America’s war and has been for 15 years. The Bush administration promotes the identical agenda in Iraq from regime change to halting Saddam’s WMD program to promoting democracy and freedom in the Middle East. Clinton even dismissed the excuse Democrats use today that sectarian strife in Iraq has been going on for too long and cannot be reconciled saying he ”categorically reject[ed] arguments that this [freedom within Iraq] is unattainable due to Iraq’s history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else.” Sound familiar?

Then on December 16, 1998, Pres. Bill Clinton ordered a U.S. strike on Iraqi military and security targets partnered with British forces. Pres. Clinton offered a lengthy explanation in defense of the strikes. The full transcript of Clinton’s remarks can be read HERE. The highlights are:

“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…..

Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. Unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war. Not only against soldiers, but against civilians, firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. And not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.

The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.

I made it very clear at that time what unconditional cooperation meant, based on existing UN resolutions and Iraq’s own commitments. And along with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay, diplomacy or warning.

So Iraq has abused its final chance.

In short, the (U.N.) inspectors are saying that even if they could stay in Iraq, their work would be a sham.

This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance.

And so we had to act and act now.

Let me explain why.

First, without a strong inspection system, Iraq would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in months, not years.

Second, if Saddam can crippled the weapons inspection system and get away with it, he would conclude that the international community — led by the United States — has simply lost its will. He will surmise that he has free rein to rebuild his arsenal of destruction, and someday — make no mistake — he will use it again as he has in the past.

Third, in halting our air strikes in November, I gave Saddam a chance, not a license. If we turn our backs on his defiance, the credibility of U.S. power as a check against Saddam will be destroyed. We will not only have allowed Saddam to shatter the inspection system that controls his weapons of mass destruction program; we also will have fatally undercut the fear of force that stops Saddam from acting to gain domination in the region.”

BRAVO! Do yourself a favor and read the entire transcript of Pres. Clinton’s explanation justifying strikes on Iraq by US and British forces. He gave a more coherent description than Pres. Bush has in the last 6 years.

Now the U.S. military strike against Iraq occurred on the eve of Clinton’s impeachment hearings resulting in their postponement. The four articles of impeachment charged Clinton with perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power in the Monica Lewinsky affair. The timing of military action in Iraq appeared to be a tactical maneuver by Pres. Clinton to avoid the humiliating proposition of becoming the first President in U.S. history to be impeached (which is what later happened), under such embarrassing circumstances. Republicans criticized the move for that reason, although most still supported the action against Iraq.

Congressman Gerald Solomon (R-NY) wrote:

“Bombs Away — Save Impeachment for Another Day?”

“It is obvious that they’re (the Clinton White House) doing everything they can to postpone the vote on this impeachment in order to try to get whatever kind of leverage they can, and the American people ought to be as outraged as I am about it.”

Lawrence Eagleburger, former Secretary of State under Bush Sr. said:

“While I approve the action, I think the timing stinks, frankly.”

Then House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) said:

“…(the strikes were an example of) the U.S. leading the world by exercising its military power in an appropriate way.”

At the time, Democrats reacted angrily to the criticism of Clinton’s motives. For example, Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) said:

“(The GOP reaction is) as close to a betrayal of the interests of the United States as I’ve ever witnessed in the United States Congress. It’s unforgivable and reprehensible.”

Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD):

“This is a time for our country to be united, even though we’re divided on other matters.”

Daschle and Richard Gephardt (D-Missouri) issued a joint statement defending the timing, saying:

“Any delay would have given (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein time to reconstitute his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and undermine international support for our efforts.”

Where are these Democrats today, and why are they opposing the Clinton law and initiatives that they so vehemently supported in 1998? In fairness to Bill Clinton, despite the timing (which very well may have come from ulterior motives), it was the right thing to do. His mission in Haiti was right, his mission in Bosnia was right, and his mission in Iraq was right.

Should Bill Clinton arrested on war crimes for civilian deaths suffered by the strikes in Iraq and Bosnia? If not, how can liberals so hypocritically demand that action for Bush? And how could the U.S. bomb ”Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs” in 1998 if there were no WMD? And if there weren’t WMD (which there were), doesn’t Clinton share the same culpability that Democrats claim for Pres. Bush? Clinton was right no matter what his motive, President Bush is right, and if Democrats would stop pretending to be bi-partisan and actually be bi-partisan, America might work toward unity. As former Democratic Senator Tom Daschle said,

“This is a time for our country to be united, even though we’re divided on other matters.”



The virtue of gridlock

On January 4th, Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and tenuous control of the Senate. With the change of power comes the possibility of something big government types dread.

Having to beg Ted Kennedy for political favors. Heck, the last lobbyist who asked Kennedy for a favor when he was in the majority broke his back carrying the portable wetbar around the Kennedy compound.

But there is something even more frightening than being Kennedy’s liquor boy. That something is gridlock. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, gridlock refers to when Congress can’t do its Constitutionally-mandated job of passing bills because the two major parties can’t agree on what needs to be done. Why does this bother big government types? Well, when you consider their veins run red with the bureaucratic tape of the same hue, having Congress unable to pass more laws makes them edgy. Think crack addicts with fashions by Brooks Brothers.

Gridlock also tends to force the two major parties to work together to pass bills that will pass muster with their constituents. That’s something we haven’t had a lot of in at least 12 years because one party has held Congress and the White House. With the Democrats taking control, some of the right’s favorite pet projects will have to take a back seat or be altered somewhat to bring it more to the center. In short, funding for faith-based programs designed to teach the 14-toed sloth of the Upper Lower Middle Amazon River basin how to speak in tongues is going to have to wait a bit.

However, it’s not just Republicans who will have to count their nickels and dimes. Democrats are in the same boat because their pet projects will be held under the same scrutiny. In short, funding for a refuge for gay 14-toed sloth of the Upper Lower Middle Amazon River basin who were taught to speak in tongues will also have to wait. Instead, we might have more sensible spending, like a study on why we’re spending so much money on 14-toed sloth in the first place.

Even though the House controls spending bills, and Democrats hold a decent-sized majority in the House, there’s a possibility that gridlock in the Senate could curtail any wild ideas from the House. In the Senate, the split is 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and 2 Independents who plan to caucus with the Democrats. Then, factor into this situation the fact that South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson (who just happens to be a Democrat) has been sidelined by a medical condition. That reduces the vote count to 99 instead of 100. Democrats would have to get both Independents to vote for anything they propose, or else they don’t get what they want, and that’s if votes are along strict party lines to begin with. Given some of the squirrelly Democrats and Republicans there, it’s not a lock by any means, but for the sake of argument (and since it’s my column), let’s say it happens.

Even if Senator Johnson comes back and votes, the ever-unpredictable Joe Lieberman could break ranks with the Democrats, leaving a 50-50 tie. And guess who gets to break the tie. Vice President Dick Cheney. Oops. That alone may make Senate Democrats more willing to either work with Republicans or not work at all. You know, just like John Kerry does.

There is one downside to gridlock. If there’s a highly charged bill, those who want to see it defeated can easily get it bogged down in Congress to the point that whoever proposed the bill will withdraw it instead of watching it get voted down. With some bills, like the PATRIOT Act or appropriations bills for the war on terrorism, gridlock can doom even the best bills if the political fortunes don’t shine upon it. But, like I said earlier, it also guarantees horrible bills may go the way of Britney Spears’s chances of being Mother of the Year, so you have a tradeoff to consider.

As a big believer in small government, I’m enamored with gridlock. I think it’s the greatest manmade political concept since the Electoral College (who, once again, was snubbed by the BCS for a bowl game). Sure, if gridlock happens, we’ll be paying Congress for not doing their jobs, but how exactly is that different from the way things are right now?