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Bombing Iraq - Five Years Later

James Lileks warning us away from his "screeds" is like Playboy warning us away from its centerfolds. Come on James, I'm not reading your Bleat every day for more stories about Gnat (cute though she may be). No, I demand more screeds! More righteous anger! More red meat! More centerfolds!

In his latest Bleat, he digs through old newspaper editorials praising President Clinton's bombing of Iraq:

I've read enough editorials from various papers from this period to reinforce something I've long suspected: the reason many editorialists hate this war is because they don't feel it's theirs.

If Clinton had risen to the occasion, wiped out al-Qaeda, sent Marines to kick down the statues and put bullets in those filthy sons' brainpans, this would be the most noble effort of our time. We would hear clear echoes of JFK's call to bear any burden. FDR, Truman, Marshall Plan, forbearance, patience - the editorial pages of the land would absolutely brim with encouragement and optimism every damn day, because the good fight was being waged, and the right people were waging it.

These "if such-and-such had happened" theories are impossible to prove, but this one sounds pretty plausible to me. Oh, I can hear the main objection: "But Clinton would have gone to the U.N. and gotten the support of the international community". Exactly like he didn't then. (Or exactly like he didn't when he ordered Kosovo be bombed. I heard Madeline Albright on NPR this morning admitting that, sure, the UN wasn't consulted before our Kosovo adventure, but then saying that that's OK, because at least we had NATO on our side. Apparently having 15 allies then instead of 10 allies now makes all the difference.)

Well anyway, here are two more biting excerpts from today's Bleat:

The naivety nearly makes you weep. These people didn't want Saddam's body bobbing ass-up in the Tigris. They wanted a world in which the fascist clique that ruled Iraq curtseyed and bowed in the lovely gavotte of international diplomacy.


The same people who accuse America of coddling dictators are sputtering with bilious fury because we actually deposed one.

Then I would add "read the whole thing", but of course you've done that already. Haven't you?


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Comments (3)



Clinton *did* go after al-Queda. He went after bin Laden. Remember the cruise missle attack. (Yeah, he missed. But it's not like bin Laden has been captured since.) He bombed the chemical weapons factory/pharmacutical factory. At the time, he was accused, by editorial boards all over the country, of "wagging the dog."

He left an ENORMOUS anti-al-Queda plan for the next administration (planned out after the U.S.S. Cole bombing). He didn't want to implement it because he didn't want to leave the next administration with a war a la the way he was left with Somalia. His plan was ignored. Put by the way side. Jettisoned.

Posts like Lileks is revisionist history at its worst.


The point wasn't whether Clinton did or did not go after al-Qaeda. The point was if he had sent in troops to depose the Taliban and Saddam, and succeeded, he wouldn't be getting nearly the crap Bush is getting for doing so.

Lileks's (and my) comments here are directed not against Clinton, but against the editorialists' seeming double standards.

(As for that "enormous anti-al-Qaeda plan" - sure, it was pretty magnanimous of him to put that aside out of political considerations, wasn't it? What a guy.)



Whatever it is you are smoking, I suggest you share it with the Canadians. Then are complaining that they just can't get good government supplied marijuana.

He left an ENORMOUS anti-al-Queda plan for the next administration

You mean eight years was just not enough time?

because he didn't want to leave the next administration with a war a la the way he was left with Somalia

Somalia was NOT a war. It was a humanitarian mission. That is why the Clinton administration refused to let the Marines have the weapons they wanted. (Aspin acknowledged that he had made a bad call when he turned down Task Force Ranger's requests for Bradley Fighting Vehicles and the AC-130 gunship, a propeller-driven aircraft that circles a battlefield and provides devastatingly accurate fire. The defense secretary resigned two months later.) After all it wouldn't have look nice to have people who are distributing humanitarian aid to be fully armed. Of course, through sheer stupidity, they changed the mission to capturing the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

It is clear, that like your hero Clinton, you have problems with the truth.


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