For months now, President Clinton has been threatening military action against Iraq. Provocation after provocation by Saddam Hussein, the rhetoric from the White House continued. Yet, even when U.S. arms inspectors were thrown out of the country, the threats were never followed up with action.
Over the weekend, however, as the Monica Lewinsky “Tailgate” scandal widened, the threat became specific for the first time. Within a matter of a few weeks, the administration announced, the U.S. might lead a military strike against Iraq. Among the options under consideration is a sustained attack on suspected biological and chemical weapons sites hidden from United Nations inspectors.
“There’ll be one final round of diplomacy, and then an ultimatum, and then we act,” an unnamed National Security Council official told the press.
I doubt there is an American alive and aware of the current sex, lies and audiotape scandal consuming the White House right now who didn’t have the same thought I did when I heard this news: Would President Clinton launch a military assault to divert the public’s attention from the Lewinsky affair?
And that’s just one reason Clinton must resign from the office of the presidency immediately. Any important decision he makes – especially those involving national security and endangering the lives of Americans – will be second-guessed as a calculated political move designed to get the public’s mind off Tailgate. This is no way to run a country. America deserves better. The free world needs leadership. And Bill Clinton is in no position to offer it – if he ever was.
I suspect the Clinton administration is not making idle threats anymore. I believe Clinton will act soon in Iraq. And, sadly, there is not a doubt in my mind that, as in the plot of the hit movie “Wag the Dog,” such action will be precipitated more by his own domestic political considerations than by international security concerns.
Even the New York Times, in a front-page Sunday news story addressed the way these two unrelated crises have become entangled.
“With the White House enveloped in a miasma of scandal, administration officials said they were painfully aware that they might be accused of using a military attack on Iraq as a diversion to sustain political and popular support for an embattled president,” the Times report said. “But they took pains to point out that the military plans they are weighing were drawn up two months ago, in November, during the last standoff with Iraq over the U.N. inspections.”
I have no doubts that is true. But the fact remains the administration didn’t take action in November. Despite all the bellicose threats, the U.S. has failed time and time again to back up its tough words.
Think about the message Hussein got from all this. Clinton has reduced the size and ability of our armed forced during the last five years to the point where we could never mobilize the kind of force that liberated Kuwait during the Bush administration. Now, there has been a virtual declaration of war by Clinton.
Hussein may be mad. But he’s not stupid. He probably realizes the political predicament in which Clinton finds himself today. And he will take advantage of it if he can.
A report over the weekend in the London Times said that Iraqi officials are now issuing ultimatums to the United Nations. Unless sanctions are lifted, said Tariq Aziz, then Iraq has no intention of continuing to work with the special commission. Iraq is ready to face the consequences – including war.
Don’t be surprised to see Hussein invite a military response from Clinton. He’s done it before. And while the U.S. devastated his military forces in the Gulf War, Hussein is still in power and the president who took him on, George Bush, is little more today than a historical footnote.
Since Hussein has been warned that air strikes are coming anyway, he might think the time is right to gamble – to take back those Kuwaiti oil fields or maybe even some real estate in Saudi Arabia. Who’s going to stop him? A president so weakened domestically that he’s fighting for his political life? Clinton and what army?
Clinton has to go. Unfortunately, I don’t think he has any intention of calling it quits. Therefore, the House of Representatives must begin considering impeachment. There’s no time to lose.