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Saddam vs. Bill - November 12, 1997

Richard Brian McCarty

" You and George Bush just don't get it, " the Bill Clinton supporter told me and an audience at the Greenwood Women's Club, "foreign policy is not all that important. " The comments were said by the Clinton supporter in a debate I entered back in 1992. The man who said that is now running campaigns in Kentucky, and his Presidential pick in 1992 is now finding that his half-hearted and sometimes wishy-washy approach to foreign policy is affecting American policy and interests around the world. The failure of the Clinton Administration foreign policy is unfortunately almost complete. In what is the President's most important duty,protecting the interests of the United States, Bill Clinton has failed so far.

Saddam knows this. He knows he is not dealing with a respected world leader like George Bush. The French do not trust the current President of the United States, and the Russians frankly do not respect him the way they did George Bush or Ronald Reagan. That leaves an opening for Iraq to play. If the leader of the United States is someone who flounders on decisions, the nation finds itself in trouble.

Seven years ago, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, George Bush said that the invasion "will not stand," and then went on to convince the United Nations he was right. The current President and his administration seem almost at the whim of the United Nations. The United States wanted and needed an authorization to use force, but it got nothing close to it. The longer Saddam hangs in the controversy, the stronger he appears. Without the authorization, he wins.

Perhaps the United States failed to achieve the authorization because of the other fiascos during the Clinton era. Haiti was invaded to appease domestic political concerns. China and North Korea have been coddled while defectors tell us that North Korea plans to kill 20,000 American troops at the drop of a hat when they invade South Korea. Chinese oppress, and even kill, Christians and other dissidents, and all the President will do is verbally disagree while asking billions of American dollars and American technology to go to China.

Further, the American army rotates men in and out of Bosnia, a place where they were supposed to be gone from months ago. The rotations are timed so that the administration violates no federal law about the use of particular troops, and avoids having to stand up for the troops being there. And, the self-proclaimed success of the peace process in the Middle East has deteriorated with Israel and Palestine bickering, and the Egyptians now not willing to attend an economic conference in which Israel will be present.

While all that is happening, the President wants to cut the military of the United States even more. Imagine what the consequences would be if North Korea, Iraq, and some other bold nation decided to attack us or our interests at once. A much weaker military would leave us with only a nuclear response. That is an option no one wants to think about.

Other world leaders know the situation. They know the American military is downsizing. They know the American President is shifty. They know now is the time to push the envelope against the United States.

Throughout both Presidential campaigns, we were told that foreign policy, and the character issues did not matter. Now, apparently they do. Other world leaders see the controversy around the President in regard to lawsuits and investigations, and they don't trust him.

In this age of world interdependence the situation can not continue for long if we are to achieve the economic and human rights ideals the United States has stood for. There is a way out for the President. He needs to stand up and state clearly what he wants to do in Iraq and in other areas of the world. He needs to take a risk. For a moment, he needs to forget the polls and do what he believes is right. Presidents can not spend all their time testing the waters. They have to act every once and while. Now is that time. For if he does not act, his legacy will be that of being the President that brought about the loss of America's stature in the world.

Richard Brian McCarty has worked on several political campaigns of conservatives. He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina and a BS degree from Lander University. An experienced writer, McCarty's columns are written from a distinctly Southern point of view. He is sometimes Southern, sometimes conservative, sometimes humorous, and sometimes all three.

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