Iraq troops 'not just about WMDs'
July 14, 2004
US military engagement in Iraq did not hinge on the presence of weapons of mass destruction, former US president Bill Clinton said today.
But regardless of the reasons for military involvement in Iraq, the troops were now there and it was important to make the situation work, he said.
Mr Clinton said US President George W. Bush had been correct to demand UN inspectors be allowed into Iraq.
"I think he (Mr Bush) was right to demand that we have the UN inspection and if the UN inspectorate said Saddam Hussein is not cooperating I would have supported the military action even if the UN didn't," Mr Clinton told Sydney radio 2GB in a wide-ranging phone interview from the US.
Mr Clinton said the Bush administration had been focused on getting rid of Saddam Hussein and was not just concerned about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
"The Bush administration believed that there were different reasons for (controlling) Saddam Hussein.
"They thought whether or not he had weapons of mass destruction, it would be a good thing to get rid of him because he was a bad guy, because a more democratic government in Iraq could be good."
But military engagement in Iraq on this basis was not necessarily justified, he said.
"I don't think it would be appropriate to do that under the authority we had from Iraq, but I think that now it's been done we now need to try and make that work.
"The whole world has a vested interest in trying to make sure we have a pluralistic non-aggressive peaceful secure Iraq."
Mr Clinton also said he regretted not being able to capture Osama bin Laden. really !
"I'm sorry I didn't get him (bin Laden), but I'm glad I tried."
The world needed to use a combination of law enforcement, intelligence and military assets to destroy terrorist networks, particularly al-Qaeda, the former president said.
"We need to go into countries which are terrorist breeding grounds and try and figure out what the problems are and try to help people solve them.
"We have to ... try and support the moderate Muslims, those people who think terrorism is the perversion of Islam.
"We need a whole comprehensive approach (to combating terrorism) and the military aspect can only be part of it."