The Democrats' Case for War 1998-1999
These facts and quotes were lifted from the much-more complete article at The Mudville Gazette. He goes into much more detail, with the day-to-day machinations of the UN, various military actions, and the political machinations here in the US, including President Clinton's impeachment process and how that figured in. Sadly, the words of prominent Republicans poo-pooing the military efforts (in a naked show of partisan politics surrounding the impeachment) of the time can also be found.
I have chosen to present only a small sampling of information here that buttresses my point about the feckless Democrats and the baldfaced lies they are spewing now. Prominent Dems, from John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, to Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton, to Sandy Berger and Madeleine Albright, made their various points very clear: Saddam Hussein was successfully engaged in the pursuit of WMD, that he was actively fighting the UN process of discovery and destruction of the stockpiles, that he presented a very real threat to the US and our interests, and that he had contact with rogue terrorist groups including al Qaeda.
Keep in mind throughout that these very things which President Bush has said in various speeches and addresses, matching almost word-for-word in some cases, is exactly what these prominent Dems were saying while Clinton was in the White House. Expecially noteworthy is John Kerry's passionate address to the Senate on Oct 10, 1998.
Oh, yes, let us not forget that pesky little bill from 1998 that not only authorized the removal of Saddam, but also included the promotion of democracy as part of its mandate.
Their words then are in direct contradiction to the position they took in the 2004 election and since. Italicized words and phrases are emphasis added by me. This presentation is by no means exhaustive. Thanks to Mudville for doing the hard researchy bits.
Strap on the tinfoil hats; it's gonna get bumpy!
February 1, 1998: "We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction." - US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
February 4, 1998: "One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line." - President Bill Clinton
February 17, 1998: "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program." - President Bill Clinton
February 18, 1998: "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983." - Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser.
August 7, 1998: African embassy bombings. This is the eighth year anniversary of the arrival of U.S. troops into Saudi Arabia and the start of United Nations sanctions against Iraq. A bomb explodes at the rear entrance of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 12 U.S. citizens, 32 Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs), and 247 Kenyan citizens. About 5,000 Kenyans, six U.S. citizens, and 13 FSNs were injured. The U.S. embassy building sustained extensive structural damage. Almost simultaneously, a bomb detonates outside the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing seven FSNs and three Tanzanian citizens, and injuring one U.S. citizen and 76 Tanzanians. The explosion caused major structural damage to the U.S. embassy facility. The US holds Osama bin Laden responsible for these acts.
August 26, 1998. Scott Ritter resigns from UNSCOM. In his letter of resignation, he says the Security Council's reaction to Iraq's decision earlier that month to suspend co-operation with the inspection team made a mockery of the disarmament work, stating they were "hobbled by unfettered Iraqi obstruction and non-existent Security Council enforcement of its own resolutions." Ritter also charges that the U.N. Security Council has become "a witting partner to an overall Iraqi strategy of weakening the Special Commission." UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler accepts Ritter's resignation.
September 29, 1998: Representative Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) introduces H.R.4655, a bill "To establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq". Co-sponsored by Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Ca) the bill will ultimately be known as "The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998"
October 5, 1998: HR 4655 passes the House, 360 - 38, with 36 not voting. Republicans vote 202-9 with 16 not voting, Democrats 157-29 with 20 not voting, among them are Nancy Pelosi (Ca) and John Murtha (Pa).
October 7, 1998: HR4655 passes the Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.
October 9, 1998: "[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." - Letter to President Clinton. - Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, others
October 10, 1998: Senator Kerry follows up on the Senate floor:
Mr. President, there are two subjects that I wish to bring to my colleagues' attention this afternoon. First, I want to talk about an issue of enormous international consequence--the situation with respect to Iraq. For the last 2 months, as we know, Saddam Hussein has been testing, yet again, the full measure of the international community's resolve to force Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction. That has been the fundamental goal of our policy toward Iraq since the end of the gulf war and is reflected in the U.N. agreements reached in the aftermath of the war.
Let's understand very clearly that ever since the end of the war, it has been the clear, declared, accepted, and implemented policy of the United States of America and its allies to prevent Saddam Hussein from building weapons of mass destruction. And as part of that agreed-upon policy, we were to be permitted unlimited, unfettered, unconditional, immediate access to the sites that we needed to inspect in order to be able to make that policy real.
In explaining his reasons for resigning, Scott Ritter stated that the policy shift in the Security Council supported `at least implicitly' by the United States, away from an aggressive inspections policy is a surrender to Iraqi leadership that makes a `farce' of the commission's efforts to prove that Iraq is still concealing its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs.
By February, the United States had an armada of forces positioned in the gulf, and administration officials from our President on down had declared our intention to use military force if necessary to reduce Iraq's capacity to manufacture, stockpile or reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction, or to threaten its neighbors.
Ultimately diplomacy succeeded again. In a sense, it succeeded again. It averted the immediate crisis. One can certainly raise serious questions about how effective it was with respect to the longer-term choices we face. But certainly in the short term, Secretary General Kofi Annan successfully struck an agreement with Iraq to provide UNSCOM inspectors, accompanied by diplomatic representatives, full and unfettered access to all sites. There is little doubt that this agreement would not have been concluded successfully without the Security Council's strong calls for Iraqi compliance combined with the specter of the potential use of American force.
Saddam's latest provocation, however, Mr. President, strikes at the heart of our policy, and at the capacity of UNSCOM to do its job effectively. As long as the U.N. inspectors are prevented, as they are, from undertaking random no-notice inspections, they will never be able to confirm the fundamentals of our policy. They will never be able to confirm what weapons Iraq still has or what it is doing to maintain its capability to produce weapons of mass destruction.
Yet, when confronted with what may be the most serious challenge to UNSCOM to date, the administration's response, and that of our allies and the United Nations, has been to assiduously avoid brandishing the sword and to make a concerted effort to downplay the offense to avoid confrontation at all costs, even if it means implicit and even explicit backing down on our stated position as well as that of the Security Council. That stated position is clear: That Iraq must provide the U.N. inspectors with unconditional and unfettered access to all sites.
They raise questions of the most serious nature about the preparedness of the international community to keep its own commitment to force Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, and the much larger question of our overall proliferation commitment itself. They undermine the credibility of the United States and the United Nations position that Iraq comply with the Security Council's demands to provide unconditional and unfettered access to those inspectors. And, obviously, every single one of our colleagues ought to be deeply concerned about the fact that by keeping the inspectors out of the very places that Saddam Hussein wants to prevent them from entering, they substantially weaken UNSCOM's ability to make any accurate determination of Iraq's nuclear, chemical or biological weapons inventory or capability. And in so doing, they open the door for Iraq's allies on the Security Council to waffle on the question of sanctions.
Russia, France and China have consistently been more sympathetic to Iraq's call for sanctions relief than the United States and Britain. We, on the other hand, have steadfastly insisted that sanctions remain in place until he complies. These differences over how to deal with Iraq reflect the fact that there is a superficial consensus, at best, among the Perm 5 on the degree to which Iraq poses a threat and the priority to be placed on dismantling Iraq's weapons capability. For the United States and Britain, an Iraq equipped with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons under the leadership of Saddam Hussein is a threat that almost goes without description, although our current activities seem to call into question whether or not one needs to be reminded of some of that description. Both of these countries have demonstrated a willingness to expend men, material and money to curb that threat.
Is it possible that there is a sufficient lack of consensus and a lack of will that will permit Saddam Hussein to exploit the differences among the members of the Security Council and to create a sufficient level of sanctions fatigue that we would in fact move further away from the policy we originally had?
I think the question needs to be asked as to how long we can sustain our insistence on the maintenance of sanctions if support for sanctions continues to erode within the Security Council. If it is indeed true that support is eroding--and there are great indicators that, given the current lack of confrontation, it is true--then the question remains, How will our original policy be affected or in fact is our original policy still in place?
In April, Secretary Albright stated that, `It took a threat of force to persuade Saddam Hussein to let the U.N. inspectors back in. We must maintain that threat if the inspectors are to do their jobs.'
That was the policy in April. Whether the administration is still prepared to use force to compel Iraqi compliance is now an enormous question. The Secretary says it is, but the recent revelations raise questions about that.
I would point out also that there are experts on Iraq, those in the inspections team, those at the U.N. and elsewhere in our international community, who are very clear that Saddam Hussein's first objective is not to lift the sanctions. His first objective is to keep Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program--that will come ahead of all else.
The situation is really far more serious than the United Nations, the Congress or the administration have made clear to the American people or demonstrated through the level of diplomacy and focus that is currently being placed on this issue. It is not simply about eliminating Saddam Hussein's capacity to threaten his neighbors. It is about eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction--chemical, biological, and nuclear. Failure to achieve this goal will have a profound impact, I believe, on our efforts with respect to our other nonproliferation efforts including completion of our talks with Russia and the ultimate ratification of the START II treaty by the Duma.
Mr. President, I believe there are a number of things we could do, a number of things both in covert as well as overt fashion. There is more policy energy that ought to be placed on this effort, and I believe that, as I have set forth in my comments, it is critical for us to engage in that effort, to hold him accountable.
October 27, 1998 - Richard Butler says tests carried out by international scientists confirm that Iraq filled missile warheads with the deadly nerve agent VX before the 1991 Gulf War.
October 31, 1998: President Clinton signs the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998:
Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998." This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers.
Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.
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.
From the document itself:
Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 - Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.
Urges the President to call upon the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, and other criminal violations of international law.
Expresses the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition to democracy by providing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people and democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, including convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to the foreign debt incurred by the Hussein regime.
The Congress makes the following findings:
(1) On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, starting an 8 year war in which Iraq employed chemical weapons against Iranian troops and ballistic missiles against Iranian cities.
(2) In February 1988, Iraq forcibly relocated Kurdish civilians from their home villages in the Anfal campaign, killing an estimated 50,000 to 180,000 Kurds.
(3) On March 16, 1988, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurdish civilian opponents in the town of Halabja, killing an estimated 5,000 Kurds and causing numerous birth defects that affect the town today.
(4) On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and began a 7 month occupation of Kuwait, killing and committing numerous abuses against Kuwaiti civilians, and setting Kuwait's oil wells ablaze upon retreat.
(5) Hostilities in Operation Desert Storm ended on February 28, 1991, and Iraq subsequently accepted the ceasefire conditions specified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 (April 3, 1991) requiring Iraq, among other things, to disclose fully and permit the dismantlement of its weapons of mass destruction programs and submit to long-term monitoring and verification of such dismantlement.
(6) In April 1993, Iraq orchestrated a failed plot to assassinate former President George Bush during his April 14-16, 1993, visit to Kuwait.
(7) In October 1994, Iraq moved 80,000 troops to areas near the border with Kuwait, posing an imminent threat of a renewed invasion of or attack against Kuwait.
(8) On August 31, 1996, Iraq suppressed many of its opponents by helping one Kurdish faction capture Irbil, the seat of the Kurdish regional government.
(9) Since March 1996, Iraq has systematically sought to deny weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) access to key facilities and documents, has on several occasions endangered the safe operation of UNSCOM helicopters transporting UNSCOM personnel in Iraq, and has persisted in a pattern of deception and concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs.
(10) On August 5, 1998, Iraq ceased all cooperation with UNSCOM, and subsequently threatened to end long-term monitoring activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and UNSCOM.
(11) On August 14, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-235, which declared that `the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.'
(12) On May 1, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-174, which made $5,000,000 available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition for such activities as organization, training, communication and dissemination of information, developing and implementing agreements among opposition groups, compiling information to support the indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes, and for related purposes.
November 14, 1998: CNN – Sandy Berger: "We were poised to take military action, we remain poised to take action," Berger said when a reporter asked if President Clinton had given the order for attacks to begin.
December 16, 1998: The United States and Great Britain begin a four-day air campaign against targets in Iraq, Operation Desert Fox. The stated mission: "to strike military and security targets in Iraq that contribute to Iraq's ability to produce, store, maintain and deliver weapons of mass destruction." UNSCOM withdraws its staff from Iraq.
December 19, 1998: Operation Desert Fox concludes. "On Wednesday when U.S. and British forces launched strikes against Iraq, I stated that we were pursuing clear military goals. And as President Clinton has announced, we've achieved those goals. We've degraded Saddam Hussein's ability to deliver chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. We've diminished his ability to wage war against his neighbors. Our forces attacked about 100 targets over four nights, following a plan that was developed and had been developed and refined over the past year. We concentrated on military targets and we worked very hard to keep civilian casualties as low as possible. Our goal was to weaken Iraq's military power, not to hurt Iraq's people." - Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
"As the President's principal military advisor, I am confident that the carefully planned and superbly executed combat operations of the past four days have degraded Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs, his ability to deliver weapons and his ability to militarily threaten the security of this strategically important Persian Gulf region. Gen. Zinni made the same assessment.
November 10, 1999: "Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies." - US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright