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Jewish World Review March 6, 2003/ 2 Adar I, 5763

Larry Elder

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Where were Bush's critics during Kosovo?

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | When President Bill Clinton used the military in Kosovo, his primary justification added up to one thing -- humanitarian reasons. His supporters cheered him on, despite this illegitimate, though humane, use of our military.

The case against Iraq, however, turns on the Iraqi dictator's possession of and willingness to use biological, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons against American allies, American interests and America itself. President Bush does, indeed, underscore the horror inflicted upon the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein. But those who applauded Clinton's Kosovo mission seem, in the case of Iraq, indifferent as to the "humanitarian angle."

Actor/activist Mike Farrell, for example, says about Iraq, "It is inappropriate for the administration to trump up a case in which we are ballyhooed into war." But back in 1999, about Kosovo, Farrell said, "I think it's appropriate for the international community in situations like this to intervene. I am in favor of an intervention."

Let's go to the videotape:

Clinton (March 24, 1999): "Now (Serbian troops have) started moving from village to village, shelling civilians and torching their houses. We've seen innocent people taken from their homes, forced to kneel in the dirt and sprayed with bullets. Kosovar men dragged from their families, fathers and sons together, lined up and shot in cold blood. This is not a war in the traditional sense; it is an attack by tanks and artillery on a largely defenseless people whose leaders already have agreed to peace. Ending this tragedy is a moral imperative."

Bush (Jan. 28, 2003): "The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq, electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning."

Clinton (March 24, 1999): "Our mission is clear: to demonstrate the seriousness of NATO's purpose, so that the Serbian leaders understand the imperative of reversing course, to deter an even bloodier offensive against innocent civilians in Kosovo, and if necessary, to seriously damage the Serbian military's capacity to harm the people of Kosovo. In short, if President Milosevic will not make peace, we will limit his ability to make war."

Bush (Sept. 12, 2002): "If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkemens and others -- again, as required by Security Council resolutions. . . . The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. They've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it. The security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest. And open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq."

Clinton (March 24, 1999): "I am convinced that the dangers of acting are far outweighed by the dangers of not acting, dangers to defenseless people and to our national interests. If we and our allies were to allow this war to continue with no response, President Milosevic would read our hesitation as a license to kill. There would be many more massacres, tens of thousands more refugees, more victims crying out for revenge. Right now, our firmness is the only hope the people of Kosovo have, to be able to live in their own country without having to fear for their own lives."

Bush (Sept. 12, 2002): "We can harbor no illusions, and that's important today to remember. Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. He's fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel. His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. He has gassed many Iranians and 40 Iraqi villages."

Not that his supporters care, but Clinton apparently exaggerated the suffering in Kosovo. In November 1999, the Christian Science Monitor wrote, "U.S. and NATO officials at times implied that as many as 100,000 ethnic Albanians may have been killed, and they used words like 'genocide' to describe the Serbian policy. They later lowered the estimate to 10,000. But preliminary findings from war-crimes investigators indicate that the number of ethnic Albanians killed by Serbian forces during the air strikes was probably closer to 5,000."

But when and if forces enter Iraq, expect the humanitarian charges lodged against Saddam Hussein to prove not only accurate, but understated.

What a difference an administration makes.

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JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of, most recently, "Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America." (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR) Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here.

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