Dec 16 1998
Clinton orders air attack on Iraq
On this day in 1998, President Bill Clinton announces he has ordered air strikes against Iraq because it refused to cooperate with United Nations (U.N.) weapons inspectors. Clinton’s decision did not have the support of key members of Congress, who accused Clinton of using the air strikes to direct attention away from ongoing impeachment proceedings against him. Just the day before, the House of Representatives had issued a report accusing Clinton of committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” related to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, in which Clinton had–and then lied about–an illicit sexual liaison with an intern in the Oval Office. …
Many in Congress agreed with Republican majority leader Trent Lott that the timing of the air strikes was “suspect” and “cursory.” In their opinion, the air strikes were simply a ploy to direct the public’s attention away from the impeachment proceedings, and would ultimately prove futile in persuading Hussein to comply with the U.N.’s demands.