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This about says it all about our beloved Dems

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To Democrats, Pre-emption Is a Relative Term

Posted Sept. 20, 2002

By Zoli Simon

Have war and peace been turned into politically partisan issues to be decided on party-line votes? Are American troops to be put in harm's way or kept at home, based upon the political advantage of one party or the other? These questions are being asked by many, including some of America's lawmakers, as the issue of war with Iraq moves to Capitol Hill.

War with Iraq was decided once before on a close, party-line vote. The authorization in 1991 became a partisan issue and was passed in the Senate by the narrow margin of 52-47, with Democrats declaring that the effort to free Kuwait would bog down the U.S. in a quagmire, as in Vietnam. Tens of thousands of casualties were predicted, with Democratic senators voting at the direction of their partisan leadership against military action to stop Saddam Hussein from capturing the entire Persian Gulf region. These included Democrats Joe Biden (Delaware), Tom Harkin (Iowa), John Kerry (Massachusetts), Carl Levin (Michigan), Paul Wellstone (Minnesota) and Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia).

The Democratic House and Senate leaders, Dick Gephardt (Missouri) and Tom Daschle (South Dakota), were completely open in 1991 about making the war a partisan issue. Now, again, both have been doing everything possible to seek a partisan advantage, demanding that President George W. Bush seek congressional authorization for a pre-emptive attack on Saddam Hussein.

Though the president calmly agreed, as did his father in 1991, the politics of this are interesting. Neither Daschle nor Gephardt demanded congressional authorization when fellow Democrat Bill Clinton was president and took unilateral pre-emptive action against the Osama bin Laden network in August 1998 without so much as a word to Congress.

In his Aug. 20, 1998, speech to the nation after ordering cruise-missile strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan, Clinton emphasized the crucial importance of pre-emption, a dirty word lately among Democratic politicians in Washington. Clinton said: "The risks from inaction to America and the world would be far greater than action. For that would embolden our enemies, leaving their ability and their willingness to strike us intact. In this case, we knew before our attack that these groups already had planned further actions against us and others."

Shortly after the congressionally unauthorized pre-emptive attacks, Gephardt commended the president "for acting to protect American lives and interests." Then-minority leader Daschle said the strikes "send a clear message that we will not tolerate terrorist attacks against our interests or our people anywhere in the world."

Not all agreed, however. Shortly after the cruise-missile strikes, which many suspected were part of a Clinton "wag-the-dog" operation in the middle of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, wrote: "The bombing of Afghanistan and Sudan as punishment of those behind the East African terrorist bombers is a faltering first step in what we can all hope is America's too long-delayed counteroffensive. It is a faltering first step because bombing a couple of installations in these two countries is like arresting the fence and ignoring the safe-crackers."

In his speech to the nation on August 20, Clinton had declared a war on terrorism which, as he claimed, "did not begin with the bombing of our embassies in Africa, nor will it end with today's strike." He said this war "will require strength, courage and endurance. We will not yield to this threat. We will meet it no matter how long it may take. This will be a long, ongoing struggle between freedom and fanaticism, between the rule of law and terrorism."

But it was a no-win war. Clinton lobbed six cruise missiles at a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan which, according to international investigators, was almost certainly not a chemical weapons factory. He also fired a shower of missiles at a handful of primitive terrorist camps in Afghanistan, completely missing bin Laden and the al-Qaeda leadership. All of which made headlines on the day Monica Lewinsky testified and then faded into obscurity. Clinton took no further military action against al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

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