25 September 2006

The Wallace-Clinton interview; a post script

There is something I wish to add to my previous remarks. In the interview, Wallace did admit to President Clinton that hindsight is 20/20. They both agreed to that statement.

As I’ve freely confessed, I was no fan, politically, of the former President. It was nothing personal; I just didn’t care for his leftist policies. Little that he did, provided those things were leftist in nature, was ever going to change my mind about him. The whole Monica thing neither raised nor lowered my opinion of him, politically.

However, hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy enough to see now that he didn’t do enough. It’s also easy enough to see that President Bush didn’t do enough early in his administration. It’s always easy enough to see, after an event, what one could have done better. With a child in college, I can see, looking back, times when I could have spent more time with my little girl. After 16 years of marriage, I can look back and see days that could have been better in my marriage if only I had said, or not said this or that, if only I had done, or not done this or that. But at the time I certainly felt I was doing enough.

As far as I’m concerned the answer that President Clinton should have given to Wallace’s question, “Did you do enough?” was, rather than, “No, because I didn’t get him” was something like this:

Clinton: It really seemed to me, at that time, that we were doing all that we could do—the way we were dealing with terrorism, as a law enforcement problem. Treating it like a law enforcement problem was, in retrospect, not the way to go. But it seemed so at the time. I believe most of us thought so. I believe most of us thought we were doing the things that needed to be done, and the way they needed to be done. It’s not that I should have done more per se. It’s that I should have done differently, not necessarily more of what we were doing. What we were doing, as I now can see, wasn’t the way to go. Doing more of that would still have failed.

You see, I think he’s wrong. I don’t think that his not getting OBL is sufficient evidence that he did not do enough. Let’s (those of us who have never been fans of his) admit that it is possible to do enough and still fail. And I don’t mean simply that it’s possible to think you’re doing enough and still fail. I mean that it is possible actually and truly to do enough and still fail. If we deny that possibility here in the case of President Clinton, then we lack the intellectual honesty, and hence the integrity, to be critical of him on this matter.

And in fact, I do think he did enough, in terms of the way the ‘war’ on terror was being fought at the time his administration was responsible for fighting it. (Moreover, as I’ve mentioned several times previously, part of the problem is just the number of other so-called wars we are, necessarily, fighting as law enforcement matters: on drugs, on poverty, and so forth.) And as for the criticisim, in The 911 Commission Report, that neither he nor President Bush took OBL as seriously as they would have a 1st, 2nd or 3rd rank enemy, we need to acknowledge that terrorists have never been taken as seriously as such ranked enemies. Historically, 1st, 2nd and 3rd rate enemies have been nation-states, capable of launching a 1st, 2nd or 3rd ranked attack. I still don’t think OBL and al-Qaeda are 1st, 2nd or 3rd ranked enemies. I think they are lesser ranked enemies who got extremely lucky on 911 by doing the then-unthinkable. They may get lucky again. I’ve been studying terrorism since the mid-1980s; and I never would have imagined what happened 11 September 2001.

And imagination is an important thing. If memory serves, Clausewitz said something like this: A great number of variables can determine success or failure in battle. But sometimes it comes down to “the silken thread of imagination.”

We were not out-gunned on 911, or even out-smarted. We were out-imagined.

We were also out-imagined on 7 December 1941.

Note: I’m still not a fan of the former president, but it’s nothing personal. It’s just that I’m a right-of-center Christian-Democrat and not a left-of-center quasi- or semi-socialist. That’s all.

Laura Ingraham agrees with me about President Clinton’s finger, and Chris Wallace’s admirable restraint.


About Me

James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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