March 29, 2004

The Apogee of Dawdling

"As it happened, I was the one in Washington who first saw evidence of a true act of terrorism by Saddam against us, and the irony is that President Clinton's response to it successfully deterred Saddam from ever again using terror against us."

--Richard Clarke, writing in "Against all Enemies" about the Clinton Administration's reaction to the attempted assassination of George H.W. Bush, and appearing a tad sanguine about Saddam's going forward intentions (particularly given a post-9/11 risk matrix)

The response to the anticipated assassination of Herbert Walker, per Warren Chistopher's dogged lawyering-down, was a one-off cruise missile attack against the headquarters of Iraqi intelligence (on a Saturday night to minimize any casualties).

Once the cruise missiles were launched, Clinton asked Clarke:

"We can't communicate with the missiles? What if I wanted to turn them back?" (p. 83, "Against All Enemies).

I think we have a new contender for what POTUS utterance best sums up the serial irresolution of the Clinton years (the other, of course, being: "It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is").

But remember, per Clarke, Clinton was giving terrorism issues an "extraordinarily high" priority.

If only he could have had a third term! How much safer we would have all been!

Note: We'll have much more on the book shortly.

Posted by Gregory at March 29, 2004 01:37 PM
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