JAMES GALBRAITH Until last month, that is. Then I wrote \(“The Third New Deal,” “gone flat” and that efforts to find scandal in the Iran-Bosnia affair had “impressed no one.” In the next week, the Whitewater convictions were all over the news, and my own brother Peter, our man in Croatia, was hauled before the House International Relations Committee to explain on national television his role in getting Teheran’s weapons to Sarajevo. “Arms Dealer” was the unpleasant headline over Peter’s picture in Newsweek. So let me defend myself. I still don’t think that Whitewater will lead anywhere in the end. I did, at one time, share the view that where there is smoke, there must be fire. But a long essay by Garry Wills in the New York Review of Books has made a persuasive case otherwise. As Wills argues, there was a conspiracy in Arkansas. It involved James and Susan McDougal, Jim Guy Tucker and David Hale. It did not involve Bill and Hillary Clinton. The federal prosecuting team, on good evidence, indicted, tried and convicted the guilty parties. They were not taken in by one of them, David Hale, who tried to energize his plea bargain by implicating Bill Clinton. And that explains why the President was not named as a part of the conspiracy, nor will he be. The convictions made a damaging splash, of coursethose found guilty had been the Clintons’ business and political partners. But unless new evidence comes out or there is some other wrinkle, such as a perjury indictment against Hillary Clinton, the damage is superficial and will be played out long before the election. Attempts to argue that the convictions discredited Clinton’s testimony in the case were quickly quashed by the jurors themselves, who reported that he was, in fact, credible. But his testimony was incidental to the case. This corroborates Wills. were legitimate grounds for investigation. A secret operation occurred, delivering arms to Bosnia in defiance of a UN embargo. But the U.S. was not a party, direct or indirect, to this transaction. The deal was between Croatia, Bosnia and Iran. What the U.S. did, secretly, was to tell the Croatians that we would not object. And the arms flowed. On the merits, this was a good and successful policy. It led to Bosnian military victories against a brutal Serb aggression, and thence to the Dayton peace accords. It did so without provoking our European allies or forcing the premature withdrawal of U.N. troopswhich would have happened, if the embargo had been repealed openly. And with peace, the influence of Iran on Bosnia, never great to begin with, has been decreasing, or so our diplomats say. \(My niece is in Sarajevo for the summer, so I But should the policy have been reported via a Presidential finding under the intelligence oversight statutes? And was there an improper cover-up of the paper trail? The answers are no, and no. This was not a U.S. covert operation. Indeed, the then-director of Central Intelligence, James Woolsey, claims not to have known of it, though others say he was told. The U.S. role was limited to a diplomatic communication. The U.S. Ambassador who made that communication, my brother Peter, neither dealt the arms nor cut the deal. Obviously, I have a personal interest here, and perhaps I should stay away from such topics. So let me turn back to another old favorite, the continuing saga of Alan Greenspan. Just when all seemed lost on the Federal Reserve front, a Lone Ranger has appeared. He is Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, who has asked for a very simple thing: a debate on Greenspan’s nomination on the Senate floor. Failing that, Harkin is exercising his prerogative to hold up a vote, much to the irritation of the Republican leadership, the White House, the New York Times, and other pillars of the establishment. They would like Greenspan confirmed without anything so annoying as having to defend him. But Harkin’s case is simple and compelling. The Senate, last fall, spent three days to torpedo the nomination of Dr. Henry Foster to be Surgeon General, a ceremonial post. Is three days too long to debate a nomination to the most powerful position in the United States economy? Tom Harkin thinks not, and I agree with him. Oh, I confess. I’m in up to my ears in this one, too, supporting Harkin every way I can think of. Well, nobody’s perfect. At least I never invested in a savings and loan. James K. Galbraith is a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and in the Department of Government, the University of Texas at Austin. TEXANS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE Texans Against Gun Violence works to bring about a significant reduction in gun violence in Texas through education and legislation. We seek to end the tragic loss of life and hope caused by the easy availability of guns. We view firearms as dangerous consumer products that warrant careful public regulation. We believe that with gun ownership comes serious private responsibilities to family, neighbors, and the greater community. Please send your contribution to: P.O. Box 4145 Austin, TX 78765 Nobody’s Perfect As a pundit, I’d been having a pretty good year. I’d predicted, more or less, the decline of Gingrich and the revival of Clinton, the burnout of the Republican Congress and the demise of the balanced budget amendment. Not bad for a sophomore. THIS WAS LI NOT A U.S. COVERT OPERATION. THE U.S. ROLE WAS MITED TO A DIPLOMATIC COMMUNICATION. 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 28, 1996
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