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Clinton Flips a Coin and Bombs Iraq

by J. Orlin Grabbe

Clinton flipped his lucky election coin. Heads was Iran and tails was Iraq. It came up tails, so Clinton bombed Iraq and got Dick Morris out of the headlines for a few hours.

It was Jane's Intelligence Review that convinced Clinton not to bomb Iran. He was afraid Iran would close the Straits of Hormuz and the resultant oil squeeze would be bad for the world economy. (Clinton didn't want to do anything to hurt the stock market prior to November.)

Well, to Clinton, if you've seen one Arab country you've seen 'em all, and given he's not about to bomb bobcat Syria, he bowed to the coin flip and had a go at Saddam Hussein. After all, it worked for George Bush didn't it . . . er, well, no, come to think of it, Bush didn't get re-elected either.

Suddenly, Iraqi internal troop movements that didn't mean diddly squat a few days or weeks earlier acquired vast significance on the U.S. national security screen.

The fifty to seventy million dollars spent on this little missile excursion will not, of course, come out of the Democratic campaign budget. It'll come out of the Pentagon's. And that's only the cost for missiles and overflights--it doesn't take into account the troop build-up over the previous weeks.

What did Clinton get for his money, besides the opportunity to appear "Presidential" for the news media? Nothing much, except to strengthen Hussein's popularity in his own country.

Our Defense Minister William Perry announced that we had fired a missile at a radar installation and that it subsequently went silent. This was supposed to imply that a hit was made, destroying the radar. Sources in a position to know, however, say that Iraq simply shut off the radar and moved it elsewhere before the missile struck.

What are we doing, putting American lives at risk with respect to an Iraqi internal affair? You don't have to like Phil Gramm to agree that we don't have a dog in this fight.

September 5, 1996
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