Skip to comments.Clinton: 'Right Wingers' Won't Let Me Help Bush
Posted on 03/04/2003 9:19:17 AM PST by kattracks
Ex-president Bill Clinton is claiming that the Bush White House turned to him in April 2001 to help solve the crisis prompted by China's downing of a U.S. surveillance plane over the South China Sea - and that the Bush administration would use him more except for the objections of "right wingers."
"The Administration's only asked me to do two things," Clinton tells the Atlantic Monthly for its March issue. "One is to go to East Timor, which I was happy to do. The other was to talk to Jiang Zemin. Both of us happened to be in Hong Kong, and we had that plane down in China."
At the time the Bush White House said Clinton had set up the meeting with China's leader without seeking permission. "The White House respects [Clinton's] right to go as a private citizen and expressed no objection. ... He's not representing anything," Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters.
But the ex-president not only insisted to Atlantic's James Fallows that he was asked to intercede during the spy plane standoff, he also maintained that the Bush White House would ask for his help more often except that they fear angering "right wingers."
"They have to be careful about that, because they depend on all those right wingers for support and they've spent ten years saying what terrible people Hillary and I were, and they've got to preserve their credibility. If they asked me to do too much they'd wonder if they didn't mean it then or don't mean it now."
Clinton claimed that in the past the Bush White House "didn't mean it" when they criticized him and did so only because "it was in the interests of so many people to do it."
Apparently stung by complaints from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said two weeks ago that he and ex-President Carter should "shut up" and stop trying to undermine the current administration with so much public criticism, Clinton defended his outspokenness.
"If and when [the Bush adminsitration does] things with which I disagree, particularly if they reverse a specific policy, as they did with the comprehensive test-ban treaty, Kyoto, international criminal court, strengthening the bioweapons convention, a number of other things then I don't think I have to go on the attack. I just have to say, This is their view, this is my view, here's why I believe the way I do. I don't think that's being hateful or bad for the country or anything else."
Clinton continued: "Even when I give these political speeches, almost in every speech I say, I don't want you ever to treat them the way they treated me. Don't do it."
He also said that the United States has a lot to answer for in the current crisis over Iraq, since the Reagan administration backed Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
"We have a lot to answer for, and he is basically partly our creature," Clinton argued, pointing to U.S. actions under the Reagan administration, which he said "looked the other way" as Saddam built stockpiles of anthrax.
"I'm not criticizing President Bush on this because I did the same thing. I've sat there and pontificated about how [Saddam] is the only guy to use chemical weapons on his own people. Yeah he did it, and the Reagan Administration was for him when he did it. Nobody raised a peep then, because he was against Iran. We now know that he got his anthrax strain from an American company while we looked the other way."
Clinton also cited an unsubstantiated report claiming that the Reagan administration CIA director, the late William Casey, wanted to arm Saddam with U.S. munitions, saying, "We also know that, or at least a British journalist has alleged that, Casey tried to give him cluster bombs."
The ex-president then quickly added, "I don't know if that's true or not 'cause I read it in the British press and you never can tell."
Last month former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger vehemently denied that the Reagan administration tried to arm Iraq during the late 1980s.
"We didn't treat them to weapons or anything of that kind," Weinberger told radio host Sean Hannity. "Some of our companies tried to do that. Some of them probably violated our export control rules. But we in the government certainly did not. And we certainly tried our best to prevent them from getting any weapons on either side."
As for the coming U.S. attack on Iraq, Clinton said he would condition his support on whether he believes the Bush administration has done everything it can to gain the support of other countries, telling Atlantic, "I will support the President if I believe he has done everything reasonably possible to build not ... not only to build a broader coalition but to do it within a framework of trying to strengthen the UN."
But Clinton urged the Bush administration to keep trying to make Iraq sanctions work rather than rushing into any military action, arguing that Saddam Hussein is "not going to live forever."
"I think we have to try to give the sanctions one more chance. He's not going to live forever, there are options for regime change short of bombing the living daylights out of them. And we know that these ... we know that the inspectors have gotten a ton of stuff out of there."
Clinton said that continuing the inspections effort "will bring us together."
Read more on this subject in related Hot Topics:
George W. Bush
Thank God the same applies to you, Bill Clinton!
Didn't somebody say that about Castro?
All the time we thought he was a letcherous fornicating treasonous liar he was actually a saint.
I feel so small.
Besides, you've done way more than your share of damage already.
P. J., on the other hand, has no use for Clinton and is quite properly dismissive of him.
Bump and he's crying in his beer again.
You were treated,(and still are) ROYALLY, compared to anything you deserved, you sociopathic trash...
"How could they treat me that way, Mommy? Just for having no respect for anything from personal honor to the presidency, letting the military drift, raping a few women......What's WRONG with those meanies, Mommy?"
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