The Clintons and Iraq

Because we were never able to find the right policy, there was a perception that we cut and run, says James Goldgeier.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: How did the Clinton administration affect the Iraqi view of America?

 

James Goldgeier Well, there was, I mean, at the end of the Persian Gulf War, I mean there were a couple incidents. First of all there was a big humanitarian crisis in the north where the Kurds were living, and the United States airlifted supplies and, you know, the United Nations community really tried to prevent or tried to alleviate the unfolding humanitarian disaster and, you know, was really very supportive of the Kurds. You had in the south, the United States at the end of the Gulf War seemed to be encouraging the Shiites to rise up against Saddam and then the United States didn't follow through with support. So there was a lot of bad feeling that the United States had called on something and then not really helped and left Saddam in power. And, you know, then had been in charge of a sanctions regime that, to a lot of the rest of the world because Saddam Hussein was still able to siphon off the kind of finances he needed to live the lavish lifestyle he needed, there were still a lot of people suffering in Iraq and so, you know, we never really found the right policy for trying to address our concerns about humanitarian issues in Iraq with trying to keep Saddam, we used to call it "keeping him in his box." That is, keeping him from being able to develop weapons of mass destruction and being able to threaten his neighbors. On the latter, I mean, that we were doing through the Clinton years. There were a lot of people who felt it was unsustainable, but, you know, the United States was flying missions all the time to patrol the no-fly zones and we were occasionally bombing Iraq, did not suffer any casualties. So, you know, there is a lot of thought, "oh that couldn't continue." But, you know, it was going on without-- and Saddam was being kept in his box, but it was this sense, it's got to do something more than that, and that's how the George W. Bush team came in.

 

Recorded on: 07/08/2008