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Jon Schwarz

Jon Schwarz is editor of MichaelMoore.com and was research producer for 'Capitalism: A Love Story.' He's also contributed to the New Yorker, New York Times, Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, Slate, Saturday Night Live and NPR.

April 14th, 2013 3:34 PM

Bill Clinton to Condoleezza Rice in 2003: Invading Iraq Would Be Morally Right Thing to Do

Last week Glenn Greenwald interviewed Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett, who both were National Security Council staffers during the Bush administration. At one point Hillary Leverett describes how "the entire American political apparatus," including Bill Clinton, supported the invasion of Iraq:

LEVERETT: It wasn't just ideologically-driven people, individual actors within the Bush administration, that were driving us to war. It was the entire American political apparatus. In a lot of ways, we thought, it was essentially tough to have checks and balances, to ask hard questions, when the United States was pursuing policies that could end up killing a lot of people and really do serious harm to our interests.

We saw the Bush administration, of course, make very bad decisions, but even more disheartening for us, even more disturbing to us as professional political analysts and policy-makers, was the opposition, the Democrats. We remember when Condi Rice came back from going to meet with – she was my boss at the time – going to meet with Bill Clinton, and she recounting how he put his arm around her, and told her that what the Bush administration was doing in gearing up for this invasion of Iraq, was not just the correct thing to do strategically but it was the morally right thing to do.

This was from the leader of the Democratic opposition, in a sense. The leading Democratic senators in Congress, the media, they were all not just supporting it, but hyping information that we didn't see – to read in the New York Times that there was this case of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that we didn't see with our top secret security clearances in the White House, was a really jarring experience on the negative side.

This isn't the first time Leverett has said this about Clinton and Iraq. In 2007, when Bill Clinton was campaigning for Hillary, he claimed he had "opposed Iraq from the beginning," which irritated Leverett so much she spoke to the Washington Post about it:

Hillary Mann Leverett, at the time the White House director of Persian Gulf affairs, said that Rice and Elliott Abrams, then National Security Council senior director for Near East and North African affairs, met with Clinton several times in the months before the March 2003 invasion to answer any questions he might have. She said she was "shocked" and "astonished" by Clinton's remarks this week, made to voters in Iowa, because she has distinct memories of Abrams "coming back from those meetings literally glowing and boasting that 'we have Clinton's support.' "...

She recalled being told that Clinton made it clear to Rice and Abrams that they could count on his public support for the war if it was necessary.

And Clinton didn't just support the invasion of Iraq privately; as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting pointed out in 2007, he supported it publicly too. The day before the war started he wrote an op-ed for the Guardian headlined "Trust Tony's Judgement." And in 2004 he told Time Magazine "I supported the Iraq thing."

P.S. In a recent slam of Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick's book and TV series The Untold History of the United States, Princeton historian Sean Wilentz sneered at them for portraying "liberal anticommunism [after World War II] as virtually indistinguishable from – indeed, as complicit with – the anticommunism of the right." After all, if Untold History convinced viewers that was true, they might also begin to believe something even nuttier, like that liberal foreign policy today is virtually indistinguishable from conservative foreign policy. Wilentz is good friends with Bill Clinton, and they probably spend lots of time together shaking their heads sadly about people crazy enough to think that.

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