Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pondering the Clintonian Diplomatic Legacy

I have to say that I actually, by the end of the 1990s, liked President Clinton. He had guided us from a period of angsty end-of-the-Cold-War-itis to a huge boom in the economy. He also seemed at the time to not be completely off his rocker diplomatically. I disagreed with some - even many - of his decisions. I did often disagree with him wrt his use or misuse of the US military and its treatment during the 1990s. Yet things seemed to work out to some extent.

Or so it seemed at the time.

Yet. In repsospect Things are looking pretty bad for his several of his diplomatic plans.

Consider the hunt for bin Laden and dealing with terrorism: there was the first attempted bombing of the WTC in NY. Then there was the embassay bombings. And the USS Cole. And the barracks in Saudi Arabia. There was a lot of signs that something was building up and that we led by Pres Clinton were not dealing with it. True, America as a whole didn't seem to have terrorists on our radar screen. Yet, in theory, the President ought to be taking the longer view. Lobbing cruise missiles didn't seem like the right thing to do at the time. There doesn't seem - and I can be wrong - to have been a special forces hunt for bin Laden either. There was also a very long argument about whether or not - frex - arming Predator drones was even legal. There may or may not have been actual requests to kill bL too. Whatever the actions, the end result was 9/11. Hindsight is 20/20, they say, yet a lot of the signs were there...for a loooong time, especially for someone with a lot more intel than the Joe on the Street.

There's also Iran. The engagement policy seems to have been a failure, frankly, as the Iranians seem to be rushing off to make a nuke. I had, honestly, hoped that we could move towards de-demonizing each other's nations during the Clinton years. Now, well, the EU, with US backing, is pulling out its collective hair trying to keep the Iranians from doing what what the North Koreans just attempted. My hopes that they'd be successful, even if I felt it was a long shot, seem to be dashed. This doesn't look good either for Clinton's legacy in the foreign policy domain.

Now, there's the North Korea flubbed boomski that happened over this weekend. Clinton had originally made many offers of carrots to prevent them from building a nuke and even, iirc, delivered on those offers. Yet NK went on to work on their boomski. They flubbed their test, true, but are we sure they will the next one? For all intents, it looks like they never stopped their program. *sighs*

Overall, in some very critical areas, things are not looking so good for Clinton's legacy in the foreign departments. I voted for him in 96 over Dole. I didn't vote for Gore in 2000...or Bush...but I can't help but look at the Clinton Years as naive and illspent in the foreign affairs. For a man who was very obcessed in the end with what his legacy would be, it's not looking so shining...at least when it comes to threats to the nation.

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