Saturday, July 16, 2005

Uncommon history of the common knowledge 

The magic of the internet makes it impossible for anyone to successfully achieve the Orwellian end of rewriting the past to suit the present. Everything you ever said and wrote and did is stored somewhere out there in the cyberspace, and there's always someone there to remind you. True, not many might care about the past, but we're still richer for having the complete and truthful record.

As John Hinderaker writes at Powerline: "Before Democrats had a partisan motive to claim, contrary to all the evidence, that there was no relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and bin Laden's al Qaeda, their close and dangerous relationship was common knowledge. That common knowledge is reflected in this ABC news report, as it was in the Clinton administration's indictment of bin Laden in 1998 for, among other things, collaborating with Saddam on weapons of mass destruction."

Comments Glenn Reynolds: "Yeah, we heard a lot of that stuff before Bush was President, but now it's all supposed to be something he just made up."

When you think about it, virtually all the intelligence and strategic basis of the Bush foreign policy vis-a-vis the Middle East, if not always the willingness to see the information translated into action, were already in place during the Clinton presidency. Hinderaker focuses just on the concern within the Clinton foreign, defence and intelligence establishments that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were getting too close to each other for comfort, but the belief that Saddam was still in possession of weapons of mass destruction and was continuing with his covert WMD development and production programs was taken as given by the Clintonites just as it was later by the Bushies. Furthermore, from 1998 onwards, the US government was committed to the principle of regime change in Iraq.
The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.

My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership.
So said President Clinton upon the occasion of signing the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998. The hope - a vain one, as it proved to be - was that the regime change would be effected by Iraqi opposition groups, but the political consensus was clearly moving away from containment and towards a roll-back.

That's why I'm always amused by all the dredged-up scary stories of nefarious plans in the late 1990s by neo-cons and assorted Iraqi opposition figures to remove Saddam (they were plotting even before Bush was president!!!) - as if that wasn't the official policy of the Democratic administration. Clinton in the end did not do much except to fire a few missiles into Sudan and Afghanistan and periodically bomb Saddam, but had he decided to do more he would have done so on the same basis as Bush would later on, except for Bush's urgency. It is likely that the Democratic establishment would have fallen behind Clinton just like they eventually had on Bosnia and Kosovo (two actions also supported by the dreaded neo-cons). And the rest would have been history. But because the history has turned out to be stillborn, too many want to disclaim their paternity.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?