On March 25, 1997, President Alija Izetbegovic (at microphone) of Bosnia and Herzegovina receives the International Democracy Award at a ceremony at the United Nations. Allen Weinstein (left) President and CEO of the Center for Democracy made the presentation; centre background is Ambassador Bill Richardson, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations.
The Republican candidates’ event at the Reagan Library was painful for me to watch because of the dumb questions that they were asked. One of the dumbest questions was ‘Should Bill Clinton occupy the White House again?’ But it got me to thinking about looking back again to the time when Clinton occupied the White House. I wanted to look back at those years from a foreign entanglements POV instead of intern/bimbo-eruption POV. I let Google be my friend, and I learned a little about Clinton and foreign policy.
Where is the country that Bill Clinton, a former president of the United States, feels ideologically most at home? Believe it or not, the country Bill Clinton so admires is the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Here is what Clinton said at a meeting on the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“Iran today is, in a sense, the only country where progressive ideas enjoy a vast constituency. It is there that the ideas that I subscribe to are defended by a majority.”
And here is what Clinton had to say in an interview with Charlie Rose:
“Iran is the only country in the world that has now had six elections since the first election of President Khatami (in 1997). (It is) the only one with elections, including the United States, including Israel, including you name it, where the liberals, or the progressives, have won two-thirds to 70 percent of the vote in six elections: Two for president; two for the Parliament, the Majlis; two for the mayoralties. In every single election, the guys I identify with got two-thirds to 70 percent of the vote. There is no other country in the world I can say that about, certainly not my own.”
During Clinton’s Presidency the US fought wars against Serbians. The wars resulted in the establishment of a new country, Bosnia, and the creation of a new UN area of Serbia, Kosovo. I have heard some that think we should do to Iraq what we did in the Balkans. What we did in Bosnia is we threw out a Serbian ruthless butcher, Milosovich. We backed an Islamic fundamentalist strong man, Alija Izetbegovic. Here is an excerpt from one a book he wrote:
"... the Islamic movement may, or rather should, begin by seizing power as soon as it possesses a good measure of moral and numerical strength, allowing it not only to overthrow the non-Islamic power, but also to establish the new Islamic power."
Alija Izetbegovic, leader of the Bosnian Muslim faction backed by the US and NATO during Bosnia’s civil war. And the book he wrote, and from which all the lines quoted above were taken, is entitled "Islamic Declaration". (This is sometimes translated, "Islamic Manifesto").
Upon his death what the US State Dept. said about the man:
"President Izetbegovic's personal courage helped the Bosnian people endure one of Europe's greatest tragedies since World War II. His determined leadership was instrumental in Bosnia and Herzegovina remaining a unified multiethnic country."
What Iranian Foreign Ministry said about the man:
"…the late president's serious attempts to defend the identity and territorial integrity of his homeland as well as the unity among the residents and various ethnic races of the country."
The State Department's reference to "Bosnia and Herzegovina remaining a unified multiethnic country" has one problem: Bosnia was never a country. It was an administrative unit within the internationally recognized state of Yugoslavia. Rather than protecting the multiethnic state of Yugoslavia, Izetbegovic’s fundamentalists fought to secede with the aim of creating an Islamist republic on this piece of Yugoslav territory. This was opposed by virtually all the Serbs and probably most Muslims. But it was backed by the US, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Islamist states.
Despite the hype in the Western media, Izetbegovic was not fighting to affirm (let alone reaffirm!) some supposed Bosnian nationhood. Rather, he called for:
"…the implementation of Islam in all fields of individuals' personal lives, in family and in society, by renewal of the Islamic religious thought and creating a uniform Muslim community from Morocco to Indonesia. ..."
In other words, the Islamist takeover of Bosnia was intended as a step towards the creation of a unified Muslim world-state. Quite the opposite of preserving the nonexistent 'Bosnian nation'! And yet the fiction of a Bosnian nation, threatened by supposed Serb secessionists (the Serbs were in fact the people who didn't want to secede from Yugoslavia) was sold to ordinary people in the West.
Professor Cees Wiebes, a senior lecturer in the Department of International Relations at Amsterdam University, caused a storm with his book Intelligence and the War in Bosnia 1992-1995.
One of the most sensational sections of the book - and the bit which grabbed the headlines ('temporarily' says Wiebes) when it first came out in 2002 - details the role of the Clinton administration in giving the 'green light' to Iran to arm the Bosnian Muslims. Wiebes catalogues how, from 1992 to January 1996, there was an influx of Iranian weapons and advisers into Bosnia. He describes how Iran, and other Muslim states, helped to bring Mujihadeen fighters into Bosnia to fight with the Muslims against the Serbs, 'holy warriors' from Afghanistan, Chechnya, Yemen and Algeria, some of whom had suspected links with Osama bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan. And all of this took place under the watchful eye of a Clintonian policy of 'no instruction' - that is, that US officials should do nothing to prevent such movements into Bosnia; that, in fact, they should covertly give them the 'green light'.
Yet this is also the bit of the book that seems to have won Wiebes few friends. He says that some of his findings and conclusions, especially on the arming of the Bosnian Muslims, have been ignored. 'If you do not have a black and white picture of the Bosnian war, then something is apparently wrong with you', he says. 'I found there was much sympathy for the Bosnian Muslims, especially among journalists; and sometimes I think there is an inclination to silence things that do not fit with their view of the war.'
I am not an apologists for Milosevich and his cronies, and I’m glad he’s dead and his followers aren’t continuing the mass murders they started. I just think a more moderate solution was available than the backing an islamist to fill in the power vacuum the Milosovich departure created. This solution that Clinton used is akin today to the US backing al Sadr to fill the power vacuum the Saddam departure created in Iraq.
Back to Clinton and the country that he feels most ideologically at home with Iran…But who are “the guys” Clinton identifies with?
There is, of course, President Muhammad Khatami who, speaking at a conference of provincial governors last week, called for the whole world to convert to Islam.
“Human beings understand different affairs within the global framework that they live in,” he said. “But when we say that Islam belongs to all times and places, it is implied that the very essence of Islam is such that despite changes (in time and place) it is always valid.”
Perhaps another one of his kind of guys is Omar M. Ahmad.
Omar M. Ahmad, chairman of the board of CAIR speaking before a packed crowd at the Flamingo Palace banquet hall in Fremont, California on July 4, 1998.
“Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”
When I look now at the efforts by the Democratic Congress to end the war after learning how Clinton operated, then I am more resolved than ever that a Clinton should not occupy the White House again.