Friday, September 23, 2005

Bush Retaliates Against Clinton....Sort Of

This past Sunday on ABC's This Week, Bill Clinton indulged in his favorite pasttime - rewarding President Bush's gracious recruitment of his promotional services for a good cause by ripping him from rectum to bellybutton on a number of issues, most especially the GWOT:

Contradicting his previous statements on the Iraq war, ex-President Bill Clinton said Sunday that there was no basis to attack the rogue nation when President Bush began the Iraq war two years ago.

"The Administration . . . decided to launch this invasion virtually alone and before the U.N. inspections were completed - with no real urgency, no evidence that there was any weapons of mass destruction there," he complained to ABC's This Week. "I did not favor what was done," Clinton said.

The man is more full of crap than my septic tank.

What was astonishing this morning is that it was President Bush who said so - in so many words:

President Bush fired back at ex-president Clinton on Thursday, saying the weak U.S. response to terrorist attacks that took place mostly during the Clinton administration encouraged al Qaida to launch the 9/11 attacks.
Here's the "in so many words" part:

"The terrorists saw our response to the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings in the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole," Bush noted, after getting an update on the war on terror at the Pentagon.

"The terrorists concluded that we lacked the courage and character to defend ourselves and so they attacked us," the President added, in quotes picked up by United Press International.

That's about as far from the "New Tone" as you'll ever see Dubya stray. He didn't address Clinton's attacks directly, nor did he mention Clinton by name, nor did he limit the examples of fecklessness in the face of Islamist provocation to the '90s. But at least he said something. Maybe he's been punched so many times in the other cheek he keeps turning to his enemies that his mouth was finally starting to swell shut.

It's not all that different from the GWOT overall - Bush was the first president to finally do something about the war that was waged against us for twenty-two years before we even deigned to take notice of it.

But there is a sad irony in the President's comments, as Michael Ledeen yet again highlights today:

The [Iranian] mullahs are altogether capable of deciding that events are now running strongly in their favor, and that they should strike directly at the United States. They look at us, and they see a deeply divided nation, a President who talked a lot about bringing democratic revolution to Iran and then did nothing to support it, a military that is clearly fighting in Iraq alone, and counting the days until we can say "it’s up to the Iraqis now," and — again based on what they see in our popular press — a country that has no stomach for a prolonged campaign against the remaining terror masters in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

Osama bin Laden came to similar conclusions, and ordered the events of 9/11. Why should the Iranians — who have been major supporters of the terror network ever since the 1979 revolution — not do the same?....

This is not a war on terror, it is paralysis at best, and appeasement at worst. The hell of it is that it is costing thousands of lives, and will cost many more until the terror masters are destroyed, or we surrender. Those words were inconceivable for many years, but it is a sign of our present fecklessness that they are now entirely appropriate. We can still lose this war. And we cannot win it so long as we are blinded by our potentially fatal failure of strategic vision: we are in a regional war, but we have limited our actions to a single theater....

Our main enemy, the single greatest engine in support of the terror war against us, whether Sunni or Shiite, jihadi, or secular, Arab or British or Italian or Spaniard, is Iran. There is no escape from this fact. The only questions are how long it will take us to face it, how effective we will be when we finally decide to act, and how terrible the price will be for our long delay.

We've gone from the Clinton policy of pretending the GWOT doesn't exist to the Bush policy of fighting part of it and hoping that'll be enough. The Bush approach is a definite improvement, but it will still ultimately leave us decimated and defeated - it will just have cost more, taken longer, and will be discredited by its greater proximity to unpleasant events, just as Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy was discredited by Nazi aggression following closely on its heels.

It reminds me, dismayingly, of something Dubya said on the campaign trail last summer:

"The enemy declared war on us. Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president. The next four years will be peaceful years."

No less a neoBushophobe than Andrew Sullivan asked, “How does he know? What if Iran gets a nuke? What if there's another major terror attack?”

The answer appears to be that Iraqi democracy will be our shield. And as laudable and noble as that accomplishment is (no thanks to screeders like Sullivan), it isn't going to be enough. And the President doesn't want to face that reality.

You could almost say he's....pretending it doesn't exist. And that all but guarantees that, sooner or later, 9/11 will be not just duplicated, but far exceeded.

And the blame for that won't belong to Sick Willie.