Labour at Blackpool: Speech Full of Hypocrisy; Labour Forgot Clinton's Notorious Foreign Policy

The Mirror (London, England), October 3, 2002 | Go to article overview

Labour at Blackpool: Speech Full of Hypocrisy; Labour Forgot Clinton's Notorious Foreign Policy


Byline: CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS

WHETHER the celeb-struck conference delegates realised it or not, Tony Blair's invitation to Bill Clinton was the perfect refutation of the "poodle" charge.

Today, Bush's White House will be in a state of cold but controlled fury. Imagine if, during the Clinton presidency, ex-presidents Reagan or Bush had addressed the Tory Party conference, cast doubt upon the legitimacy of Clinton's election, trashed his domestic and foreign policy and offered him lukewarm support at a time of crisis.

It never happened, because there is a tradition it should not, but in breaking with ex-presidential etiquette Clinton, who'll do anything for an audience, met an audience that would apparently do anything for him.

Since I had the pleasure of watching Clinton in office every day for eight years, I hope to be excused if I was not impressed by seeing him again. How it all came back to me - the tongue ruthlessly roving the cheek; the lip-biting to indicate sincerity; the husky voice; the abject self-deprecation; the incurable habit of speaking for 20 minutes longer than he should. Most amusing, though, was how he made his own foreign policy sound more statesmanlike and judicious than it had ever been.

There probably was not a delegate present who would not have been primed to laugh at a George Dubya "cowboy" joke. Yet Mr Clinton's most notorious foreign policy action was to launch a flight of cruise missiles into the outskirts of the city of Khartoum, destroying the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory on the pretence (now acknowledged to have been false) it was a chemical weapons facility. How could such an atrocity have been committed?

Because Mr Clinton did not even demand an inspection, did not consult the UN or Congress, and over-ruled Joint Chiefs of Staff, CIA and State Department. …

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