If I knew then what I know now.....
by mageduley, Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 07:29:21 PM EST
It is interesting that Hillary did not know a lot more about the use of force than she lets on. Bill on the other hand had quite a bit of knowledge:
The mood of Britain, though, was against risking the lives of its soldiers to topple Iraq's Saddam Hussein. In Tony Blair's own left-of-center Labour Party, intense hostility to a Republican president in the White House was combined with genuine doubts about the justification for war.
Even as British troops gathered on the Kuwait-Iraq border, Blair faced a mounting rebellion among his supporters. One senior member of his government, the former foreign secretary Robin Cook, had already resigned. Other ministers were preparing to quit. Scores of Labour members of Parliament (MPs) had resolved to vote against their own government. Beyond the political village of Westminster once-warm relationships with key allies in Europe lay badly broken.
Tony Blair was unmoved. Ending Saddam's defiance of the international community was, in the phrase he had used over and again, "the right thing to do." That was his decision, he told colleagues in the British cabinet, whatever the cost. Government officials made contingency plans should he be forced to resign after the votes had been counted. On that overcast March morning the prime minister was sure of a majority in Parliament because the opposition Conservative Party backed a war to topple the Baghdad regime.
The risk he faced, however, was that more than half of his own supporters would rebel. In such circumstances, his premiership would be unsustainable. Britain and the rest of the world were being introduced to a leader they had not properly met. Blair had already transformed his party's electoral fortunes and had many times proved himself an accomplished politician. This, though, was the politics of conviction.
Blair was a politician of the center-left, a leader who still counted former president Bill Clinton among his closest political allies and friends. The prime minister once said that Clinton was the most brilliant politician he had ever met - a judgment from which he never resiled. Bush was the Republican from Texas, the president whom most European leaders of the center-left had come to scorn and, sometimes, despise. Throughout the Iraq crisis, Blair sought Clinton's private counsel.
Most recently, on the very morning of that House of Commons vote, Clinton had been enlisted to help his old friend.
The former president wrote an article for the Guardian, the newspaper of choice of Labour members of Parliament, urging them to back their leader.
"Trust Tony's Judgement," by Bill Clinton the headline declared.
"The credit for 1441 belongs in large measure to Blair, who saw it as a chance to disarm Saddam in a way that strengthened the UN and preserved the Atlantic alliance. Unfortunately, the consensus behind 1441 has unravelled. Saddam has destroyed some missiles but beyond that he has done only what he thinks is necessary to keep the UN divided on the use of force. The really important issues relating to chemical and biological weapons remain unresolved.
In the face of the foot dragging, hawks in America have been pushing for an immediate attack on Iraq. Some of them want regime change for reasons other than disarmament, and, therefore, they have discredited the inspection process from the beginning; they did not want it to succeed. Because military action probably will require only a few days, they believe the world community will quickly unite on rebuilding Iraq as soon as Saddam is deposed."
For one extraordinary moment on that March day, it was almost as if Bush, Blair, and Clinton were standing side by side.and since the war would only last a few days, Hillary could show her "tough on terror" stance.