The Bill and Saddam Show

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. (12/17/98)

On the eve of impeachment, and holy seasons in the east and west, the curtain once again rises on the Bill and Saddam Show, starring the usual cast of characters and with the same bloody and predictable ending. They both retain power, and their people continue to suffer under their lies and duplicity.

Call it statecraft or a devil’s ploy, but don’t call it “national defense.” It’s the oldest trick in the political book. Distract the public from a political crisis at home with a phony one abroad. Even after “Wag the Dog,” the popular movie ridiculing the White House penchant for drumming up foreign bogeymen, the Clinton administration has pulled the caper again.

The peacenik generation again uses war to try to save its skin. It makes no sense for Congress to trust Clinton on war and peace as it prepares to impeach him for pathological lying. Tragically and stupidly, there are Republicans ready to believe every word. Of course, the White House might have calculated that some of its opponents are suckers for killing foreigners. No one said the Clinton administration lacks a survival instinct.

Two days before the administration settled on Iraq, the usual suspects—identified only as “U.S. intelligence sources” in the media—floated another trial balloon. We were told that terrorists allied with the shadowy Osama Bin Laden were planning to bomb a U.S. city. Recall that this was the same trump card Clinton used to justify a hit on a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory, an action that violated the Constitution but took Monica off the front pages for a few days. Perhaps this time, the administration found the Bin Laden excuse too lame, too spent, too uninteresting. Or perhaps their internal polling showed more public fear of the demon Saddam Hussein. In any case, the Bin threat was quickly dropped for the more tried-and-true excuse that Saddam was not cooperating with the friendly U.N. inspectors crawling all over that once-sovereign country.

Even amidst the killing, isn’t it time we ask why Iraq wouldn’t cooperate with U.N. inspectors? Might there be another reason besides its desire to hide chemical and biological weapons? Iraq has been subject to U.S.-U.N. sanctions since 1991. More than 90,000 Iraqi children die every year due to disease and malnutrition because of these sanctions, an instrument of war deemed unjust since the time of St. Augustine.

Meanwhile, Clinton spends his time in Palestine worrying about children whose fathers have been casualties in a conflict he can do nothing about. Clinton could have ended these murderous sanctions long ago. Instead, he has presided over that country’s further demolition and impoverishment. But that hasn’t been enough.

The U.S. has called for the overthrow of Saddam and made clear its intention to keep sanctions in place until the end of time, not a policy Big Oil has seen fit to oppose. After all, Iraq could be selling vast quantities of the sweetest crude on earth, to the great benefit of American consumers. Meanwhile, after seven years of searching, not one "weapon of mass destruction"—or any evidence of one—has been found.

Most recently, the U.S.-U.N. inspection squad sought to search, and to make copies of documents from, the ruling party’s political headquarters. And we know that the U.S. is funding various front groups to overthrow the government, even as Clinton ’s lackeys complain about an attempted coup d’etat against him at home. Would the CIA and its front groups find internal political information from Iraq useful? Certainly. And is the Iraqi government likely—even at the cost of bombings—to turn such information over to its sworn enemies? Doubtful.

This fact remains: there are no chemical weapons in the file drawers of the downtown, two-story headquarters of the Ba’ath Party. The demand to inspect this building was a provocation, and Saddam responded predictably.

So, allegedly because the Iraqis refuse to allow an office building to be searched—and actually because it will derail the impeachment process and generally advance the warfare state—Clinton is sacrificing the lives of foreigners who have never done anything to us, and risking U.S. troops. It’s important, after all, not to go down in history as William the Impeached.

It should be clear that Saddam and Bill need each other. Saddam needs a foreign enemy on which to blame all his domestic troubles. And the U.S. embargo and periodic bombings allow him to keep a tighter grip over his own people. Bill needs a foreign enemy too, particularly one who heads a far-away country few Americans care a whit about. Can Clinton count on the patriotism reflex to cover up for his misrule? Surely Americans have not been drained of all power of political discernment.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama.