Former President Bill Clinton on Dave Letterman Show in 2002 sure bought into the faulty intelligence on Iraq, and greatly under-estimated the ease of toppling Saddam: “[Saddam] is a threat. He’s a murderer and a thug. There’s no doubt we can do this. We’re stronger; he’s weaker. You’re looking at a couple weeks of bombing and then I’d be astonished if this campaign took more than a week. Astonished.” (Hat tip, AndrewSullivan.com, on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion.)
"If he's got these stocks of chemical and biological weapons, and if he knows he's toast, don't you think he'll use what he can and give away what he can't to people who'll be using them on us for years to come so he can have the last laugh...."
Mr. Clinton clearly supports his successor.
"I think the President is doing the right thing to go to the United Nations, to ask them to do something and I hope that whatever we do - I think we need to turn up the heat, I think it's just a mistake to walk away from this," said Mr. Clinton.
But he finds the idea of the U.S. acting against Iraq - with only British support – problematic. Even President Bush has expressed such reservations.
Mr. Clinton told Letterman that - for now - the next step should probably be more weapons inspections.
"I wouldn't be opposed to trying these inspections one more time because I know that they did work even when he was trying to undermine us, we kept getting tons of stuff out of there," he said.
Clinton also wrote an op-ed for the (UK) Guardian urging Britons to trust Prime Minister Tony Blair's judgment in favor of war. In 2004, he told Time magazine that "I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq, even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over." President Bush, he said, "did the right thing" on Iraq. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) pointed out Clinton's "dishonesty slide" on Iraq when he thought he could help Hillary's 2008 campaign.
Many Democrats still bitterly believe that a "stolen election" in 2000 -- Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote by half a million -- and that an illegitimate leader and stupid George W. Bush caused America to stumble into a disastrous war in Iraq. Yes, it's true that Gore presciently warned against the invasion in 2002, and as president may not have pulled the trigger on Iraq. But Gore's vice president, Joe Lieberman, his national security advisor Leon Fuerth and former President Clinton were in favor of removing Saddam and under-estimated the difficulty of governing Iraq afterwards. "Given the changed climate produced by Sept. 11, 2001, we should aim from the beginning to destroy the Iraqi regime, root and branch," Fuerth wrote in November, 2001.
Kenneth Pollack, a member of Mr. Clinton’s National Security Council staff, would later write in 2002 that it was a question of “not whether but when” the U.S. would invade Iraq. He wrote that the threat presented by Saddam was “no less pressing than those we faced in 1941.”...We owe it to history—and, more important, to all those who died—to recognize that this wasn’t Bush’s war, it was America’s war.
Clinton was more popular than Gore in 2000, and if he were constitutionally allowed to run for a third term, he probably would have handily beaten Bush. Ironically, his third term -- or Gore's first term -- could have ended disastrously, with a quagmire in Iraq and Democrats deeply divided over that quagmire, not unlike what Lyndon Johnson faced on Vietnam in 1968.