Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Silvio Berlusconi in Rome in 2005. One of these men did not support the Iraq Debacle. It wasn't Clinton.
One of the faults that former President Bill Clinton seems unable to shake is his penchant for seeking approval from whomever he is speaking to, even 17 years removed from his last political campaign. And that is the benign explanation for Clinton's appearance with John McCain last Tuesday in which he said stupendously stupid things like this
Bill Clinton told Sen. John McCain he agrees that President Barack Obama should act more forcefully to support anti-Assad rebels in Syria, saying the American public elects presidents and members of Congress “to see down the road” and “to win.”
At another point during a closed-press event Tuesday, Clinton implied that Obama or any president risks looking like “a total fool” if they listen too closely to opinion polls and act too cautiously. [...] Clinton repeatedly said it would be “lame” to blame a lack of intervention on opposition in polls or among members of Congress.
[...] "[Y]ou’d look like a total wuss,” he continued. “And you would be. I don’t mean that a leader should go out of his way or her way to do the unpopular thing, I simply mean when people are telling you ‘no’ in these situations, very often what they’re doing is flashing a giant yellow light and saying, ‘For God’s sakes, be careful, tell us what you’re doing, think this through, be careful.”
WTF? Is Clinton REALLY arguing that the problem we have seen from our presidents is their hesitancy in involving the nation in military conflicts? Is he really arguing that? Wow, that is really stupid. And in an appearance with John "I never met an opportunity to start a war I didn't like" McCain no less. But it gets better. Clinton said:
“My view is that we shouldn’t over-learn the lessons of the past,” Clinton said. “I don’t think Syria is necessarily Iraq or Afghanistan — no one has asked us to send any soldiers in there. I think it’s more like Afghanistan was in the ’80s when they were fighting the Soviet Union … when President Reagan was in office [and] got an enormous amount of influence and gratitude by helping to topple the Soviet-backed regime and then made the error of not hanging around in Afghanistan” to try to cash in on the gains. [Emphasis supplied.]
This is strikingly stupid in two respects: (1) The US involvement in Afghanistan in the 80s included supporting the precursors to Al Qaida, including Osama bin Laden
; and (2) we've hung around in Iraq for a decade, anyone expecting any "gratitude" for that?
More on the absurdity on the flip.
Indeed, making these statements about intervention in Syria with McCain is especially absurd:
Sadly, there are indications that the Obama Administration may be paying attention to this "wuss" concern. Here comes a war in Syria!
President Barack Obama's authorization of military aid to the Syrian rebels "dramatically" increases U.S. support for the opposition, the White House said Friday, while acknowledging that it will take time for the supplies to reach fighters struggling in their clashes with Syrian President Bashar Assad. U.S. officials said the new aid would include weapons and ammunition and comes in response to firmer evidence from the White House of chemical weapons use by Assad's regime.
I'm guessing no one is arguing this is humanitarian aid. The bigger concern is what happens next? Assuming arms shipments to Syrian insurgents will not likely decide the result, what with Russia and Iran aiding the Assad regime (though it may deter the Assad regime from winning), what would be the next step? A "no fly" zone? Troops? This weekend the president consulted with European leaders
President Barack Obama pressed ahead Saturday with a pledge to sanction Syria and support its rebels by speaking with European leaders by conference call about Damascus' chemical warfare. Obama's talk with the leaders of Britain, France, Italy and Germany came before next week's Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland. The five leaders discussed "ways to support a political transition to end the conflict" in Syria, the White House said.
Hard to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict when one side says the Assad regime must stay and the other side says Assad must go. Note that the Obama Administration is taking the side that says Assad must go. The question is what precisely will be required to achieve that result?
In the Iraq Debacle, it required a U.S. military invasion.
In Libya, it required a no fly zone and American air power.
Syria looks more like Iraq than Libya right now.
How far is the Obama Administration willing to go? And will Clinton like warnings of being a "wuss" have an impact on the president's thinking? I certainly hope not.
But that would require being willing to accept an outcome where Assad is not removed. That seems less likely today than it did a few days ago.