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Better late than never

Yesterday, boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson had a piece titled "Prolonged war wasn't in the deal." In his piece, he details a United States president circumventing Constitutional safeguards and engaging in an unnecessary war, a war that lasted far longer than promised, and excoriated that president and his supporters.

It's a good piece, and I can agree with a lot of it. But there is one element I can't quite buy into:

It's about 10 years too late.

In 1996, Bill Clinton, in violation of the War Powers Act, embarked on a 78-day bombing campaign against Kosovo, then sent in peacekeepers with the promise that they'd be home for Christmas. Ten Christmases have passed since then, half of them under Clinton, and they're still there.

Jackson's memory is apparently failing him in other areas, too. He recalls President Bush promising that the struggle would be a short one. I recall just the opposite -- Bush saying that the war on terror (of which I consider the Iraq war a campaign in the larger war) would be a struggle of years, if not decades. He also doesn't recall that Congress authorized the use of force in an overwhelming vote, and hasn't undone that.

I don't like having to defend Bush. While I agree with a lot of his policies, personally I find him a smidgen offsetting. But the tactic of rewriting history to try to make the facts fit the positions of his critics ("Bush lied," "illegal war," "Bush linked Iraq and 9/11,"and the like) is despicable, and cannot be left unchallenged.

(Note: I don't agree with a lot of the tone and conclusions of this piece, but it seems to have a fairly good recap of Clinton's Kosovo adventure. Google can be your friend...)


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Comments (14)

While I was certainly in fa... (Below threshold)

While I was certainly in favor of invading Iraq, just not sticking around as long as we have, I have to concede there's an element of truth - or at least perception - in his comments. While Bush made the occasional comment about it being tough, the overall message his admin communicated to the american people was that Iraq was going to be no big deal (here's a question: had Bush known - or even anticipated - how tough Iraq was going to be, would he have ever done his "mission accomplished' stunt?). And, while his admin never said so explicitly, they didn't try too hard to keep people from getting the idea that 9/11 and Iraq were linked in some, not-too-hard to fathom, way... all the better, I reckon, to rally support for a campaign that otherwise didn't have too many people supporting it.

Yeah I didn't have a day jo... (Below threshold)

Yeah I didn't have a day job at the time, so I watched a fair amount of C-span during the run up to the Iraq war (it was interesting). I recall Bush saying many times how it would neither be easy nor quick. But I suppose people can claim he never said those things, because the bulk of his speeches never get quoted in the regular media--only the one or two sentences that they they can spin into 'anything he does is a disaster.'

After reading a recent colu... (Below threshold)

After reading a recent column by neoliberal/neoconservative Marshall Whittman, it is refreshing to see that conservatives still recall the disasterous Kosovo war, and that we were right to overwhelmingly (along with the libertarians, and some of the Left) oppose it.

One note though: Bill Clinton's illegal war in Kosovo, that you describe above, took place in 1999, not 1996. [The intervention in the Bosnian civil war was in the mid-1990s, however.]

"I recall just the opposite... (Below threshold)

"I recall just the opposite -- Bush saying that the war on terror (of which I consider the Iraq war a campaign in the larger war) would be a struggle of years, if not decades." -- Jay Tea

Next up on the Bush agenda, IRAN!

This video fully describes the breadth and detail of the discussions taking place right now in the White House regarding impending military involvement.

Hey, it's the Boston Glob. ... (Below threshold)

Hey, it's the Boston Glob. Owned by the New Yack Times.

Sorry you wasted so many electrons. It's like watching an old 1930's cowboy movie. You know how it's going to turn out before you even taste the popcorn.

Explain your view of the wa... (Below threshold)

Explain your view of the war powers act, and the war powers as outlined in the Constitution. Who has what powers? What are the limitations?

Whatever the answer, the same laws apply to EVERY president, regardless of party or policy. (I presume you agree with THAT.)

BTW, Hamilton makes HIS pos... (Below threshold)

BTW, Hamilton makes HIS position on war powers clear in Federalist 69. (Just in case you're still interested in "original intent.")

A few months ago I received... (Below threshold)

A few months ago I received a copy of a National Geographic that dealt with genocide. They listed, in graphical form, the relative scale of the loss of life from multiple events of the last century or so. The Soviet purges, China’s Great Leap Forward, etc. all represented by large blotches on the timeline. Even Sadam’s operations against the Shia and Kurds were moderate sized circles. Kosovo was a tiny dot. Kosovo operations were considered “good” even without any U.N. resolutions. Why not blast the Castilians for their subjugation of the Basques or Catalans? Or the French for the Bretons?

Rwanda didn’t rate. Because they were dark, or they had no oil, or they didn’t sit astride the same sea where Euros take their vacations? Rwanda wasn’t our problem (seriously), but neither was Kosovo. Bush a war criminal? Sure. So were Churchill, and Truman. May God bless their criminal souls.

From the posts here, I sens... (Below threshold)

From the posts here, I sense there's no real interest in the Constitution or the War Powers Act, even though that was the subject of the article...

The subject of this post wa... (Below threshold)

The subject of this post was rewriting history to make it support your argument, perhaps a tactic understood by Publicus?

I was stationed overseas 9/11 and OIF. No one there heard anything about a "neat and quick" war, nor were there any illusions about the potential for casualties and a drawn out conflict. I'm talking about open comm, not behind closed doors or classified stuff.

Was it really that different in CONUS?!?

Close on the dates. I did ... (Below threshold)

Close on the dates. I did both the Bosnia and Kosovo missions.

1996 saw the ground mission begun in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The bombing campaign occurred in September of 1995, after the massacre at Srebrenica. I very clearly recall Pres. Clinton saying we would be "home by Christmas". I just as clearly recall the NO ONE in the military, from the soldiers at the bottom to the planners at the top, believed it. The NATO mission there did eventually end Dec 2004. Eight months, eight years.... same thing right?

The bombing campaign in Kosovo occured in Mar-June 1999 with ground troops heading in immediately after. I don't recall what the inital plan was for leaving, perhaps he learned not to set a timetable? Troops are, of course, still there.

"The subject of this post w... (Below threshold)

"The subject of this post was rewriting history to make it support your argument, perhaps a tactic understood by Publicus?"

What argument was I making, epador? Did you READ my posts?

I said that war powers, whatever they are, should be the same for every president. And that Federalist 69 discusses Hamilton's view of war powers in the Constitution.

Where was i "rewriting history"?

Publicus, it's not that fol... (Below threshold)

Publicus, it's not that folks aren't interested in arguing about Constitutional Authority, it's that they don't care to engage in endless, pointless, exhausting argument for it's own sake.

Ask Lee to explain. Have you even READ his last 40,000 posts?

I'm with you, bobdog. I don... (Below threshold)

I'm with you, bobdog. I don't want to engage in endless, pointless, exhausing argument. I want to talk about the Constitution because it's central to any discussion about war powers—the subject of the original post.






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