Amid Impeachment Proceedings, Clinton Orders Air Attack On Iraq - 12/16/1998

US History |


Today in 1998, President Bill Clinton has ordered air strikes against Iraq since the country declined to collaborate with United Nations (U.N.) weapons inspectors. A development that most of the key congressmen did not welcome because Clinton was in the midst of an impeachment proceeding and many of them believe the President was just using the air strikes to direct their attention off the case. A day before the announcement, the House of Representatives had issued a 265-page report suggesting the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for " abuse of power and gross misconduct" coupled with the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, which he denied.

The order for air strikes on Iraq was the result of the country's attempts to building weapons of mass destruction, which includes nuclear, chemical and biological agents. In 1997, because of Saddam Hussein's violent manners, and the fear that he may try using those nuclear weapons against his own people, the United Nations sent an envoy to inspect whether the country is building any weapon of mass destruction. After denying the inspectors access to certain sites several times, Clinton was left with no other option than to use the air strikes to force Hussein to cooperate.

The majority House leader Trent Lott and many others were of the opinion that the planning of the air strikes was hasty and questionable. They maintained that the president is using the air strikes as a ploy to shift the public eye away from the impeachment proceedings and that Hussein would never agree to comply with the U.N.'s demands. Lott and his partners opined that the best way to end Iraq's weapons program is by immediate seizure of power from Hussein.

When Clinton was addressing the press that same day, he stylishly ignored the criticism, saying that Iraq president was wrong if he thought "…the impeachment proceedings going on would disturb or weaken America's interest in Iraq." He maintained that his decision to launch air strikes was because of America's interest in the region and for the world security.

At last, the American attention and that of the press maintained focus on the impeachment proceedings that is rocking Clinton's administration. However, the impeachment threat and Iraq air strikes did not yield any meaningful result. In February of 1999, the Senate vindicated Clinton while the air strikes on Iraq hardened the heart of Hussein because he did not allow U.N.'s inspectors full access to Iraq's weapons facilities.

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