Politics stops by the water’s edge

While I agree with some of the policy substance, I was quite disturbed by the implications of Brandon Wales’ op-ed “Save the Iraqi people, not Clinton’s presidency” (p. 5) in the Jan. 25 issue.

He, like some Capitol Hill Republicans, had the audacity to suggest that the timing of President Clinton’s military operations is politically calculated. The most recent issue is that we finally bombed Iraq after getting Saddam Hussein to back down using only threats.

However, this game of cat and mouse could not go on. Earlier in the fall, the president stopped missiles in mid-flight, but promised that next time there would be no warning. It happened that Richard Butler, head of the UN Special Committee (UNSCOM) issued his report the week the House of Representatives was voting on impeachment. The United States and Britain had to act on their promise quickly.

Contrary to Mr. Wales’ assertion, Ramadan, at least originally, did matter. Arab support was highly desired, but lukewarm at best. The Arab nations could not be alienated. It turns out that the United States did continue skirmishing through the holy month and into this week. As for the references to past operations, the Afghanistan/Sudan bombings came on the heals of embassy bombings. Can one really believe that Clinton could control that timing?

It also lowers the level of debate when we resort to Gingrich-like name calling because the president disagreed with our policy regarding a previous war. Besides, the American people twice elected Clinton expecting a president strong on domestic issues rather than foreign policy.

What really troubles me is this: It certainly would be offensive if the president risked lives for short-term political gain as Mr. Wales suggests. If I were Clinton, however, words could not express how offended and insulted I would be if I were accused as such. All Americans and their military should reject such cynicism and embrace the concept that politics stops at the water’s edge.

-The writer is a senior majoring in political science.

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