Following up the last post — Just to show How Far the Righty Have Fallen — rightie bloggers are whoopin’ and high-fivin’ it up over the missile strike in Somalia. For example, Curt at Flopping Aces celebrates payback for the U.S. troops killed in the 1993 “Blackhawk Down” firefight in Mogadishu. “God knows we would never get it when Clinton was in office,” he says.
I assume the Bush Administration plans a retaliation for the U.S.S. Cole bombing of 2000 sometime in 2013. I guess we’re taking the old saying “revenge is a dish best served cold” literally.
The Pentagon says the recent attack was not about what happened in 1993. However, one of their justifications for blitzing the Islamists involved the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by al Qaeda in 1998. Suspected perpetrators of those acts of terrorism are being harbored by the ICU, the Pentagon said.
In 1998 the Clinton Administration waited only 13 days after the embassy bombings, not 13 years, to launch cruise missiles that struck an al Qaeda training complex in Afghanistan and destroyed a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in the Sudan that allegedly produced nerve gas. You might remember that subsequent news stories said the facility in Sudan was a legitimate pharmaceutical plant and that the missile attack killed an innocent night watchman. Republicans verbally bludgeoned President Clinton about the dead night watchman and the “aspirin factory” for, well, a long time. I think they’re still at it.
Still, you’d think that they would have approved striking and destroying an al Qaeda training facility in Afghanistan. Guess again; grief for that dear, innocent night watchman far overwhelmed any concern for national security. Ol’ blood ‘n’ guts himself, Christopher Hitchens, sniffed:
Well then, what was the hurry? A hurry that was panicky enough for the president and his advisors to pick the wrong objective and then, stained with embarrassment and retraction, to refuse the open inquiry that could have settled the question in the first place? There is really only one possible answer to that question. Clinton needed to look “presidential” for a day. He may even have needed a vacation from his family vacation. In any event, he acted with caprice and brutality and with a complete disregard for international law, and perhaps counted on the indifference of the press and public to a negligible society like that of Sudan, and killed wogs to save his own lousy Hyde (to say nothing of our new moral tutor, the ridiculous sermonizer Lieberman). No bipartisan contrition is likely to be offered to the starving Sudanese: unmentioned on the “prayer-breakfast” circuit.
After 9/11, of course, the rightie tune was that Clinton should have acted quicker and bombed the Afghanistan facility while Osama bin Laden was still there. The attack missed him by hours.
Regarding the pharma plant, though I understand the CIA and some former Clinton Administration officials still stand by the nerve gas claim, consensus leans on the aspirin factory side of the story. Even so, going by this Wikipedia article, the Clinton Administration was a lot more successful at capturing, prosecuting, and convicting the perpetrators of the embassy bombings than the Bush Administration has been concerning those responsible for 9/11.
However, as this blogger points out, righties since then have become considerably more sanguine about the slaughter of civilians, including children, in the name of fighting terrorism. Yep, after the attacks on 9/11 the righties shed their tender sensibilities rather abruptly, and they flipflopped from complaining that Clinton had done too much to claiming he hadn’t done enough.
The missile story also reminded me of this famous exchange between Senator Bob Kerrey and National Security Adviser Condi Rice from the 9/11 commission hearings:
KERREY: You’ve used the phrase a number of times, and I’m hoping with my question to disabuse you of using it in the future.
You said the president was tired of swatting flies.
Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to al-Qaida prior to 9-11?
RICE: I think what the president was speaking to was …
KERREY: No, no. What fly had he swatted?
RICE: Well, the disruptions abroad was what he was really focusing on …
KERREY: No, no …
RICE: … when the CIA would go after Abu Zubaydah …
KERREY: He hadn’t swatted …
RICE: … or go after this guy …
KERREY: Dr. Rice, we didn’t …
RICE: That was what was meant.
KERREY: We only swatted a fly once on the 20th of August 1998. We didn’t swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired?
RICE: We swatted at — I think he felt that what the agency was doing was going after individual terrorists here and there, and that’s what he meant by swatting flies. It was simply a figure of speech.
KERREY: Well, I think it’s an unfortunate figure of speech because I think, especially after the attack on the Cole on the 12th of October, 2000, it would not have been swatting a fly. It would not have been — we did not need to wait to get a strategic plan.
Dick Clarke had in his memo on the 20th of January overt military operations. He turned that memo around in 24 hours, Dr. Clarke. There were a lot of plans in place in the Clinton administration — military plans in the Clinton administration.
In fact, since we’re in the mood to declassify stuff, there was — he included in his January 25th memo two appendices — Appendix A: Strategy for the elimination of the jihadist threat of al-Qaida; Appendix B: Political military plan for al-Qaida.
So I just — why didn’t we respond to the Cole?
RICE: Well, we …
KERREY: Why didn’t we swat that fly?
Ahh, those were the days. There’s more amusing nostalgia in the linked old post. Are the righties now reduced to cheering the swatting of flies? To be fair, Pajamas Media reports the U.S. has “boots on the ground” in Somalia, but so far I haven’t picked up this information in other news stories.
In January 1998, the neocons at PNAC sent a letter to President Clinton advising him that “regime change” in Iraq should be the aim of U.S. policy in the Middle East. A look at PNAC’s archives for 1997-2000 reveals the pnac’ers were obsessed with Saddam Hussein. But they seem not to have noticed Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda at all, unless I’m missing something. Even memorandums written within days of the embassy bombings are about Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. And these are the same geniuses pushing Bush into an escalation in Iraq now. If neocon policies don’t touch off a pancontinental war across the Middle East and much of Africa it will be a miracle.