Monday, March 22, 2004

The trouble with hindsight

I remember in the late 90's going to many a Grey Lynn party where conversation would often turn to what was happening in the Balkans. Needless to say the majority view was that Clinton's intervention to aid the Bosnians was US imperialism. Try as I might to argue that Milosevic was a fascist dictator and Clinton was a social democratic, nothing could convince them that it was just some evil plot to advance the interests of big business.

To blow my own trumpet, I was a Clintonite before it became popular, and these days it seems only popular because it appears to be an anti-Bush stance.

So I find it disturbing to have Richard Clarke's 20/20 hindsight treated with such seriousness. I mean, if Bush can be accused of not dealing with al Qaida seriously enough then why didn't Clinton, who had 8 years to do so, do anything serious? The whole line of argument is a vicious nonsense. Its a valid argument to question the Bush admin's priorities but it is absurd to judge their actions before 911 on what we know now.

If Bush was so blinkered then why did he do the right thing and destroy the Taliban and savagely maul al Qaida - which was a damn sight more serious than Clinton - if all he wanted to do was get Saddam?

There would have been no case for going into Afghanistan if 911 had not happened, that's why Clinton didn't and why Bush did. However the decision to make the overthrow of Saddam official US policy was made by Clinton not Bush. The degree to which Bush is being attacked over dealing with terrorism has far outstripped any reasonable concern for the difficulties of dealing with these sorts of issues. Its the equivalent to holding Clinton responsible for what happened in Srebrenica. Where in just one event the UN failed to prevent the deaths of 10,000 civilians.

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