Revisiting Hillary Clinton's response to the debate question last month on how she would respond to an al-Qaeda attack on American cities -- what Clinton suggested sounded vaguely familiar, as if we'd done this before. In fact, we have, and with disastrous consequences.
First, Clinton's response:
"Well again, having been a senator during 9/11, I understand very well the extraordinary horror of that kind of an attack and the impact that it has, far beyond those who are directly affected. I think a president must move as swiftly as is prudent to retaliate. If we are attacked, and we can determine who was behind that attack, and if there were nations that supported or gave material aid to those who attacked us, I believe we should quickly respond.
"Now that doesn't mean we go looking for other fights," Clinton went on to say. "You know, I supported President Bush when he went after al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. And then when he decided to divert attention to Iraq, it was not a decision that I would have made had I been president because we still haven't found bin Laden. So let's focus on those who have attacked us and do everything we can to destroy them."
In other words, do exactly what Bill Clinton did in response to the bombings of two American embassies in Africa in August 1998. After quickly determining that al Qaeda was responsible, then-President Clinton ordered cruise missile attacks against al Qaeda targets in Sudan and Afghanistan two weeks after the bombings -- followed by withering criticism that Clinton was engaged in "wag the dog" chicanery to divert attention from the Lewinsky scandal.
And what happened after the cruise missile attacks ...? Nothing much, at least for the remainder of Clinton's lame-duck, post-impeachment presidency. Come to think of it, Saddam Hussein booted UN weapons inspectors out of Iraq a few months after the embassy bombings, not that Iraq and al Qaeda had anything remotely to do with one another, as we've heard claimed ad infinitum ad nauseum for years now. Clinton responsed to Hussein's ouster of weapons inspectors by lobbing cruise missiles into Iraq, postponing the congressional vote on his impeachment for a day, before the status quo of American timidity was quickly restored.
Then in October 2000, al Qaeda fanatics struck at the USS Cole in Yemen, killing 17 American sailors, followed by Clinton doing ... nothing. All the while, al Qaeda grew emboldened by the specter of a paper tiger worried about looking like it was looking for a fight.
What was it that line from Trotsky? You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.