It is one thing to criticize the president’s foreign policy in principle - to be opposed, because of one's deeply held beliefs, to the president’s actions to invade Iraq. It is quite another to criticize the president’s foreign policy simply to obtain political power.
Unfortunately, for all Americans, the Democratic Party critics of President Bush’s invasion of Iraq - and many other critics of the war - are motivated by politics, not principle. This is revealed by the hypocrisy of their condemnations.
Democrat Senate minority leader Tom Daschle echoed the sentiments of many antiwar protesters by objecting to military action in Iraq because of the lack of UN approval. Yet, he was not concerned about the UN’s opinion when Bill Clinton wanted to take military action in Bosnia and Kosovo. During a 1999 interview Jim Lehrer asked Senator Daschle, “(A)re you convinced that the American people understand the need to put U.S. troops on the ground in Kosovo?”
Daschle replied, “We have to be able to convince the American people that this is in our interest. I don't think you need much of an imagination, though, to know what happens if all of this gets out of hand.…I think we can avoid that with a little preventative medicine. That's what this is all about. It's preventative, and I think it will work.”
It was an interesting choice of words by Daschle. When Democratic President Bill Clinton wanted to take military action against nations that did not, could not and would not want to do anything against the United States it was called preventative. However, when Republican President George Bush wanted to take military action against a nation that violated a treaty and committed an act of war, it was called preemptive.
Now some might argue there was a difference. They may say that genocide was being committed in the Balkans. This justified taking military action without UN approval.
Such an argument is specious. There was genocide of enormous proportions in Rwanda, yet Clinton did nothing. Meanwhile, Hussein had committed acts of genocide against the Kurds and was known to murder his own people routinely.
Clinton’s actions in Bosnia and Kosovo have been termed illegal by some foreign policy experts. These experts have been both nonpartisan and uniform in their condemnation of American military action in Bosnia/Kosovo and Iraq.
Democratic Party politicians and Bush-haters have reiterated the argument that UN benediction was needed before invading Iraq. Yet, it was President Clinton’s special envoy to the Balkans, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who recently wrote in the New York Times, “ No serious policy maker would advocate subordinating American national security interests to the United Nations; for this reason President Clinton twice used force in the Balkans (in Bosnia in 1995 and in Kosovo in 1999) without Security Council authority.“
President Bush’s most vituperative critic, Ted Kennedy, voted to allow all necessary force in Kosovo. Yet, when it came to Bush’s proposed military action in Iraq Kennedy said, "UN inspectors are on the ground and making progress, and their work should continue…."
When the first American soldier was killed in Bosnia in February 1996, Democrat Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont said, “the American people were going to have accept more casualties.” Senator Leahy’s attitude now is very different. He is not as glib about military casualties in Iraq as he was about military casualties in Bosnia. About Iraq Leahy said, “We could be involved in urban warfare where large numbers of our troops are killed.”
Democrat New York Congressman Charles Rangel is an excellent example of the hypocrisy of the Iraq war critics. During an interview with Sean Hannity he said, “There are a lot of bums in the world and we shouldn’t go after them without the approval of the international community.” Yet, Rangel approved Clinton’s military involvement in Bosnia and Kosovo without UN authorization.
What about the media? Their hypocrisy is just as apparent.
At least George Bush went to the UN to ask for assistance. However, Clinton’s team purposely excluded the UN from the Balkans. Yet, there were no New York Times editorials condemning Clinton for not seeking the approval of the UN. Not one major TV network had someone like Scott Ritter claiming Bush should be impeached because the action in Kosovo violated international law.
What about the entertainers whose vitriolic remarks about President Bush are common? What disparagements did Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Janeane Garofalo make about Clinton?
None. As Garofalo said, “ It wasn’t hip to protest then.”
The remarks by Republicans and conservatives criticizing Clinton’s policies in the Balkans were very different from those who criticize President Bush. When President Clinton wanted to send 20,000 troops to Bosnia, the Republican leader in the Senate, Robert Dole, said that although he does not agree with Clinton, "we have one president at a time. He's the commander-in-chief.
What a difference between Bob Dole and Senator Robert Byrd, who said of President Bush and the pending invasion of Iraq, “This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine…The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening…appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter….”
Democratic Party politicians like Kennedy and Daschle, editors like Howell Raines, entertainer/activists like Susan Sarandon need to be tell us why they were not opposed to sending Americans to die in the Balkans when there was no threat whatsoever to America. Yet, they are so vehemently opposed to sending troops to Iraq where there was clearly a threat – if even only a remote one. Is it simply a matter of politics? Is the real reason NOW condemn’s the Iraq invasion more a function the president’s opinion of abortion than it is foreign policy? What do you think?
The president’s critics need to answer this question for the sake of the American people.