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Clinton comes down hard on Bush's foreign policy
S Rajagopalan, PTI
Washington, April 17, 2003
First Published: 23:41 IST(17/4/2003)
Last Updated: 23:41 IST(17/4/2003)

With the Iraq war winding down and the US shifting its attention to Syria by issuing dire warnings, former President Bill Clinton has launched a blistering attack on the Bush administration’s foreign policy.

In strongly-worded remarks in an address to the Conference Board in New York, Clinton said, “Our paradigm now seems to be: something terrible happened to us on September 11, and that gives us the right to interpret all future events in a way that everyone else in the world must agree with us. And if they don’t, they can go straight to hell.”

Clinton sought to convey it to his successor that sooner or later the US will have to find a way to cooperate with the rest of the world. “We can’t run. If you got an interdependent world, and you cannot kill, jail or occupy all your adversaries, sooner or later you have to make a deal,” he said.

He also pointedly stated that it would be a “gross overreaction” to punish those who did not join the US’s war against Iraq. On the contrary, Washington should seek to involve as many countries as possible in the reconstruction of Iraq.

In his view, the reconstruction of Iraq and a resolution to the North Korean nuclear threat present opportunities to strengthen the world community and restore international faith in the US administration.

Clinton’s critics in the right-wing media see a design behind the former President’s turnaround after warmly praising Bush’s leadership on Iraq till a few days ago. On Sunday, Clinton had indeed told an audience in St Louis, “Mr Bush has done the right thing in removing Saddam Hussein from power. They now have a fresh chance to do the right thing and rebuild Iraq.”

Some analysts detect in Clinton’s remarks a possible return to the Democrats’ 1992 election strategy that dislodged President George Bush Sr despite his soaring popularity after Gulf War-I. The Democrats had then targeted his handling of the economy.

Clinton suggested in his address that the present Bush administration was focusing heavily on defence to the neglect of important domestic issues. As he put it, “Since September 11, it looks like we can’t hold two guns at the same time. If you fight terrorism, you can’t make America a better place to be.”


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