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People are fascinated with criminals. For instance, John Dillinger and Al Capone. Dillinger and Capone, however, are small time crooks when compared to former presidents such as Bill Clinton, who recently packed in the curious during a book-stop in Philadelphia.
Clinton was magnanimous enough to take a few pre-approved questions from audience members during an interview conducted by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. “I am ashamed to this day for the personal mistake I made,” Clinton said about his two-timing with Monica Lewinsky, “but I am proud I did not break under what they tried to do to me for seven years, because you would be worse off. You would be worse off. We were just in the grip of madness.”
I don’t recall this madness, or do I see how Clinton’s impeachment, if the Senate had not acquitted him, would have made America worse off. I was all for Clinton’s impeachment, although not because of anything he did with an intern or the lies he told about it, but rather for what he did to the people of Iraq and Serbia.
Like the serial war criminal Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton does not deserve to walk free. I’m all for him writing books — so long as he writes them from a cell adjoining the one holding Slobodan Milosevic in the Hague. In fact, the crimes of Slobodan Milosevic are nothing in comparison to the crimes of Bill Clinton. Slick Willie is responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands — no, millions — of Iraqis, Serbs, and Sudanese.
So eager was Clinton to follow in the footsteps of Bush, Reagan, Carter, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, and Truman — that is to say, so eager was Clinton to kill people in the name of so-called national security — he fired a bevy of cruise missiles into Baghdad on June 26, 1993, not long after taking office.
Historians like to say Clinton launched this sneaky attack on a sovereign nation in response to an assassination plot against former president Bush — a plot never conclusively proven — but the real reason Clinton killed dozens of Iraqis, including internationally renowned artist Layla al-Altar, was to demonstrate to the world he was a tough guy like his predecessor. Bush, as a retiring tough guy, ordered air strikes and dispatched a salvo of cruise missiles into Iraq on January 17-19, 1993, killing scores of people. It was a sort of perverse farewell.
If Saddam did indeed attempt to assassinate Bush Senior while he visited Kuwait in April of 1993, he likely believed there was ample reason since Bush’s sendoff bombing specifically targeted the Iraqi dictator, who was thought to be at the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad at the time (instead of Saddam, the bombs killed two hotel service employees).
Clinton’s premeditated mass murder gave him a popularity spike in America. Public-opinion polls showed his approval rating climbed by eleven percentage points on June 27th, the day after the attack, and more than two-thirds of those polled approved of the bombing. Americans like it when their presidents kill people a faraway lands, especially after they whop the tar out of them in lopsided wars. It is easy to stomach mass murder when it is presented as a video game on CNN and Fox News.
Clinton’s desire to kill people was not restricted to Iraqis. He also had it out for Seventh-day Adventists. On April 19, 1993, Clinton gassed and burned to death 86 of them — men, women, and children — at the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas, a couple months before he bombed the helpless civilians of Baghdad. Bush Junior likes to go on about the threat posed by Saddam’s chemical weapons — Saddam’s non-existent chemicals weapons, as it turns out — but actually Americans have more to fear from the likes of Bill Clinton, the BATF, and the FBI than Saddam Hussein.
Of course, 80 or so ill fated Americans, incinerated and gassed for not obeying the federal government, is mere peanuts when compared to what Clinton did when he continued imposing comprehensive economic sanctions on the Iraqi people.
By the time Clinton left office, he had managed, with the enthusiastic help of Britain and the United Nations, to kill around a million Iraqi children under the age of five, according to UNICEF reports. In 1999, between 4,000 and 5,000 children were dying a month in Iraq from malnutrition and entirely preventable disease. As John and Karl Mueller point out in Foreign Affairs (May/June 1999), Clinton’s “sanctions of mass destruction” caused “the deaths of more people in Iraq than have been slain by all so-called weapons of mass destruction [nuclear and chemical] throughout all history.” In short, Clinton is one of most active and scurrilous war criminals of recent times. It is nothing short of absurd that he is walking around free, allowed to pedal a best-selling book, and the only criticism he receives centers around an adolescent relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
Killing unimaginable numbers of innocent Iraqis, however, was not enough for Clinton. He teamed up with NATO to bomb the civilian infrastructure of the former Yugoslavia — hospitals, homes, trains, schools, power stations, even TV stations. As Edward S. Herman writes in Z magazine (December 1999), “60 percent of NATO targets were civilian, including 33 hospitals and 344 schools, as well as 144 major industrial plants and a large petro-chemical plant whose bombing caused a pollution catastrophe.” John Pilger writes that the list of civilian targets included “housing estates, hotels, libraries, youth centers, theatres, museums, churches and 14th century monasteries on the World Heritage list. Farms have been bombed and their crops set afire.”
In all, according to Human Rights Watch, over 500 Serbian civilians were killed in 37,465 bombing sorties over a period of 78 days. Of course, this does not take into account the number of Serbs who will die as a result of depleted uranium munitions used by NATO and the US. A British biologist, Roger Coghill, believes 10,000 additional people will die from cancer. “Throughout the Balkan region, I calculate that there will be an extra 10,150 deaths from cancer because of the use of DU. That will include local people, K-FOR personnel, aid workers, everyone,” Coghill told the BBC in 1999.
During Bush’s latest homicidal adventure in Iraq — as if to make certain Clinton’s crimes against the Serbs paled in comparison — the US military left behind a staggering 75 tons of DU, enough to plague the beleaguered nation with epidemic cancer and horrendous birth defects for years to come. Bush has ensured a nightmarish future for millions of Iraqis, most of who hated Saddam and never lifted a finger against America.
“We see further into the future,” Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, told the New York Times at approximately the same time Coghill made his dire prediction for the people of Serbia and Kosovo. If Serbian and Iraqi children die from leukemia, it is because “we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall.”
In Philadelphia, Clinton said his “greatest regrets in foreign policy” were his failure to go after Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda and the “collapse” of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at Camp David in 2000. (Instead of collapsed, Clinton should have said sabotaged by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and himself.)
Clinton has no “regrets” or is he “ashamed” of his blood-spattered complicity in the killing of a million people, most of them children. As a sociopath he is more worried about what a meager sexual affair with an insecure intern will do to his reputation than a mountain of dead bodies or the countless victims yet to suffer from cancer and birth defects.
As for Osama bin Laden, he is an amateur sociopath in comparison to an old pro like William Jefferson Clinton.
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/blogger.html . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org