primary justification added up to one thing -- humanitarian reasons. His
supporters cheered him on, despite this illegitimate, though humane, use of
The case against Iraq, however, turns on the Iraqi dictator's
possession of and willingness to use biological, chemical and possibly
nuclear weapons against American allies, American interests and America
itself. President Bush does, indeed, underscore the horror inflicted upon
the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein. But those who applauded Clinton's Kosovo
mission seem, in the case of Iraq, indifferent as to the "humanitarian
Actor/activist Mike Farrell, for example, says about Iraq, "It
is inappropriate for the administration to trump up a case in which we are
ballyhooed into war." But back in 1999, about Kosovo, Farrell said, "I think
it's appropriate for the international community in situations like this to
intervene. I am in favor of an intervention."
Let's go to the videotape:
Clinton (March 24, 1999): "Now (Serbian troops have) started
moving from village to village, shelling civilians and torching their
houses. We've seen innocent people taken from their homes, forced to kneel
in the dirt and sprayed with bullets. Kosovar men dragged from their
families, fathers and sons together, lined up and shot in cold blood. This
is not a war in the traditional sense; it is an attack by tanks and
artillery on a largely defenseless people whose leaders already have agreed
to peace. Ending this tragedy is a moral imperative."
Bush (Jan. 28, 2003): "The dictator who is assembling the
world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages,
leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured. Iraqi
refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained by torturing children
while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups
have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq, electric
shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with
electric drills, cutting out tongues and rape. If this is not evil, then
evil has no meaning."
Clinton (March 24, 1999): "Our mission is clear: to demonstrate
the seriousness of NATO's purpose, so that the Serbian leaders understand
the imperative of reversing course, to deter an even bloodier offensive
against innocent civilians in Kosovo, and if necessary, to seriously damage
the Serbian military's capacity to harm the people of Kosovo. In short, if
President Milosevic will not make peace, we will limit his ability to make
Bush (Sept. 12, 2002): "If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it
will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis,
Kurds, Turkemens and others -- again, as required by Security Council
resolutions. . . . The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people.
They've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people
is a great moral cause and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq
deserve it. The security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not
intimidate through cruelty and conquest. And open societies do not threaten
the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and
economic liberty in a unified Iraq."
Clinton (March 24, 1999): "I am convinced that the dangers of
acting are far outweighed by the dangers of not acting, dangers to
defenseless people and to our national interests. If we and our allies were
to allow this war to continue with no response, President Milosevic would
read our hesitation as a license to kill. There would be many more
massacres, tens of thousands more refugees, more victims crying out for
revenge. Right now, our firmness is the only hope the people of Kosovo have,
to be able to live in their own country without having to fear for their own
Bush (Sept. 12, 2002): "We can harbor no illusions, and that's
important today to remember. Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait
in 1990. He's fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and
Israel. His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages
of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. He has gassed
many Iranians and 40 Iraqi villages."
Not that his supporters care, but Clinton apparently exaggerated
the suffering in Kosovo. In November 1999, the Christian Science Monitor
wrote, "U.S. and NATO officials at times implied that as many as 100,000
ethnic Albanians may have been killed, and they used words like 'genocide'
to describe the Serbian policy. They later lowered the estimate to 10,000.
But preliminary findings from war-crimes investigators indicate that the
number of ethnic Albanians killed by Serbian forces during the air strikes
was probably closer to 5,000."
But when and if forces enter Iraq, expect the humanitarian
charges lodged against Saddam Hussein to prove not only accurate, but
What a difference an administration makes.