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ANDREW SULLIVAN: Clinton talked a good war Bush has to fight it
The Sunday Times ^ | March 9, 2003 | Andrew Sullivan

Posted on 03/08/2003 3:19:45 PM PST by MadIvan

Here’s a simple quiz. Who said the following: “What if (Saddam) fails to comply and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this programme of weapons of mass destruction? . . . Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, some way, I guarantee you he’ll use the arsenal.”

Full marks if you guessed Bill Clinton. It was 1998. But I wonder how many of you did. To read the papers, to watch the “anti-war” protesters, to listen to the BBC, you’d easily imagine that out of the blue a belligerent and new American administration had torn up the rule book and started a new foreign policy unconnected to the old one.

The truth, however, is that Bush’s policy towards Iraq is the same as Bill Clinton’s. After the United Nations inspectors found they could no longer do their job effectively in 1998, America shifted its policy towards regime change in Baghdad — exactly the policy now being pursued.

The difference lies in the sense of urgency being applied to the same policy. September 11 made the White House acutely aware of the ruthlessness of the new terror masters: suddenly, the American homeland was in play. The possibility of a chemical or biological 9/11 made Washington realise that its Iraq policy needed enforcement. Regime change needed to mean what it said.

Clinton was a master of the European dialogue. He meant very few things he said but he said them very well. He was a great schmoozer. When he compared the Serbian genocide to the Holocaust, it sounded earnest but nobody, least of all the Bosnians, believed he meant it.

And he didn’t. If he had, he wouldn’t have allowed 250,000 to be murdered in Europe while he delegated American foreign policy to the morally feckless and militarily useless European Union. Ditto with Iraq and Al-Qaeda. A few missiles; some sanctions that starved millions but kept Saddam in power; and a big rhetorical game kept up the pretence of seriousness. But there was no attempt to match words with actions.

Bush’s style couldn’t be more different. He’s blunt, straightforward, folksy, direct. Although his formal speeches have been as eloquent as any president’s in modern times, his informal discourse makes a European wince. And his early distancing from many of Clinton’s policies, his assertion of American sovereignty in critical matters, undoubtedly ruffled some Euro lapels. In retrospect, he could have been more politic.

But the point is: Bush’s foreign policy is not so different from Clinton’s. In fact, Bush came into office far less interventionist than Clinton and far more modest than Al Gore. His campaign platform budgeted less for defence than Gore’s did. And his instincts were more firmly multilateral. That changed a year and a half ago. 9/11 made him realise that American withdrawal from the world was no longer an option. But even then, the notion of Bush’s unilateralism is greatly exaggerated.

To be sure, last spring the Bush White House argued that taking out Saddam’s weapons was non- negotiable. But by last September, Bush decided to pursue the policy of disarmament through the UN, despite the risk of falling into the inspections trap that has proved so intractable. And now, even after a unanimous resolution supporting serious consequences if Saddam refused to disarm immediately and completely, he’s going back to the UN for permission to enforce the resolution by military means. His reward? Contempt and derision.

Now compare Clinton’s similar dilemma of how to deal with the Balkan crisis in the 1990s, culminating in the Kosovo intervention. Did Clinton go through the UN to justify his eventual Nato bombardment of Serbia? No, because the Russians pledged to veto such a military engagement. Where were the peace protesters back then? In terms of international law, those American bombs in Belgrade were less defensible than any that will rain down on Baghdad. Serbia had never attacked the US. No UN mandate provided cover. But Clinton ordered bombing anyway. And the same people who now attack Bush cheered Clinton on.

Or take Kyoto, the emblem of what Europe finds so distasteful about Bush. What nobody seems to remember is that Clinton had done nothing to ensure the implementation of the Kyoto accord in his term of office. Besides, under the American constitution, it is the Senate that has to ratify such a treaty. And what happened when the Senate considered the Kyoto treaty? It was voted down 95-0, under Clinton. So how can Bush be held responsible? Bush’s fault was not killing Kyoto, it was announcing its already determined demise.

Some have argued that Bush hasn’t spent enough time schmoozing foreign leaders or reaching out to the broader global public like Clinton did. But Clinton never had to face the kind of tough decisions Bush has been presented with. It’s easy to enjoy sweet relations with allies when no tough issues actually emerge.

In any case, Bush has spent many hours cultivating world leaders. Otherwise, how do you explain his remarkable relationship with Tony Blair, an ideological and personal opposite? Or the hours Bush spent bringing Putin around on Nato expansion and the end of the ABM treaty? Or the relationship with Pakistan’s President Musharraf, which last week delivered the biggest victory against Al-Qaeda since the liberation of Afghanistan? And last December’s 15-0 UN resolution against Saddam was a huge diplomatic coup for the White House. It is hardly the Americans’ fault if the French and Russians refuse to enforce the meaning of the resolution they signed.

The truth is: Bush’s diplomatic headaches have much less to do with his poor diplomatic skills than with the fact that he is trying ambitious things. Rather than simply forestall crises, Bush is doing the hard thing. He’s calling for democracy in the Middle East. He’s aiming to make the long-standing American policy of regime change in Iraq a reality. He wants to defeat Islamist terrorism rather than make excuses for tolerating its cancerous growth. When this amount of power is fuelled by this amount of conviction, of course the world is aroused and upset.

What the world is afraid of, after all, is not the deposing of Saddam. What the world is afraid of is American hyperpower wielded by a man of faith and conviction. Bush’s manner grates. His style — like Reagan’s — offends. But, like Reagan, he is not an anomaly in American foreign policy; he is merely a vivid representative of a deep and idealistic strain within it.

And history shows that the world has far more to gain from the deployment of that power than by its withdrawal. If the poor people of Iraq know that lesson, what’s stopping the Europeans?


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; US: Arkansas; US: District of Columbia; US: Texas; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: andrewsullivanlist; blair; bush; clinton; iraq; saddam; uk; unirrelevant; usa
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Outstanding in most respects. I do not believe Blair is Bush's "opposite", however - both are deeply religious men, and they communicate on that level.

Regards, Ivan


1 posted on 03/08/2003 3:19:45 PM PST by MadIvan
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To: Siouxz; Otta B Sleepin; Mr. Mulliner; Semper911; Bubbette; Kip Lange; dixiechick2000; ...
Bump!
2 posted on 03/08/2003 3:20:06 PM PST by MadIvan (Learn the power of the Dark Side, www.thedarkside.net)
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To: MadIvan
The parallels ---

100 yrs exactly between the Dreyfess and Foster affair ...

predicted AFTER 10 years the secret // mystery would unravel !

The axis of evil is 4 wheel drive ... team clinton // daschle !
3 posted on 03/08/2003 3:21:26 PM PST by f.Christian (( + God =Truth + love courage // LIBERTY logic + SANITY + Awakening + ))
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To: Howlin; Miss Marple; mombonn; DallasMike; austinTparty; MHGinTN; RottiBiz; WaterDragon; DB; ...
Pinging Sullivan's list.
4 posted on 03/08/2003 3:21:44 PM PST by Pokey78
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To: MadIvan
Bump.

Bush is going to spend years cleaning up the mess Clinton left.
5 posted on 03/08/2003 3:22:10 PM PST by SAMWolf (We do not bargain with terrorists, we stalk them, corner them , take aim and kill them)
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To: SAMWolf
The secret ...

of bill // hill clinton (( plo -- kosovo // osama bin laden lovers )) ---

is buried in a grave titled --- vincefoster !


6 posted on 03/08/2003 3:22:39 PM PST by f.Christian (( + God =Truth + love courage // LIBERTY logic + SANITY + Awakening + ))
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To: MadIvan
Great post!! Too bad Clinton left so much trash to carry out!!
7 posted on 03/08/2003 3:24:21 PM PST by Lando Lincoln (God Bless the arsenal of liberty.)
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To: MadIvan
Thanks. Sullivan gets it, for the most part!
8 posted on 03/08/2003 3:29:06 PM PST by Molly Pitcher (Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow....)
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To: MadIvan
bttt
9 posted on 03/08/2003 3:32:40 PM PST by Oldeconomybuyer (Let's Roll)
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To: MadIvan
It is not hip to say anything bad
about killing christians for drug
running muslims.
10 posted on 03/08/2003 3:38:32 PM PST by HuntsvilleTxVeteran (Anything from ABCNNBCBS is suspect!)
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To: MadIvan; Pokey78
Thanks for the pings - great article.
11 posted on 03/08/2003 3:39:16 PM PST by Amelia
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To: MadIvan

12 posted on 03/08/2003 3:47:20 PM PST by rickmichaels (American in Spirit)
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To: MadIvan
bump
13 posted on 03/08/2003 3:49:18 PM PST by woofie
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To: MadIvan
And history shows that the world has far more to gain from the deployment of that power than by its withdrawal. If the poor people of Iraq know that lesson, what’s stopping the Europeans?

Hubris.

14 posted on 03/08/2003 3:53:46 PM PST by jwalsh07
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To: rickmichaels
Thanks for posting that photo. It reveals a lot. President Bush had slick's number from day 1.
15 posted on 03/08/2003 3:56:35 PM PST by Lauratealeaf (Pray for President George W. Bush and the troops)
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To: Lauratealeaf
My pleasure. That pic says it all.
16 posted on 03/08/2003 4:01:09 PM PST by rickmichaels (American in Spirit)
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To: MadIvan
Ivan, I cannot tell from the articles you post, which comments you have added or embellished.Are the red highlights your views or the authors? It makes for a confusing read and I wish i could endorse what you're doing, but can't.If they are your editorials, could you post them in the comments section, like everyone else?
17 posted on 03/08/2003 4:02:11 PM PST by habs4ever
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To: habs4ever
It's not my editorials, I am highlighting certain passages.

You are the first person to complain about this.

Ivan

18 posted on 03/08/2003 4:04:05 PM PST by MadIvan (Learn the power of the Dark Side, www.thedarkside.net)
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To: MadIvan
So, I'm the first person to complain? There's gotta be a first in all things to point stuff out.I think it ruins the article and if you want to point things out, you can use the 1st post to cut and paste what you think we should key upon.
19 posted on 03/08/2003 4:13:48 PM PST by habs4ever
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To: habs4ever
So, I'm the first person to complain? There's gotta be a first in all things to point stuff out.I think it ruins the article and if you want to point things out, you can use the 1st post to cut and paste what you think we should key upon.

I had one person thank me for doing so. If you can get sufficient people to vote in favour of your proposal, fine.

I thought I was being helpful. I'm sorry if I'm merely grating on your nerves.

Ivan

20 posted on 03/08/2003 4:15:01 PM PST by MadIvan (Learn the power of the Dark Side, www.thedarkside.net)
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