Bubba: Iraq war's 'a quagmire'


(Gold9472: "Bubba"... heh...)


WASHINGTON - Former President Bill Clinton says Iraq "looks like a quagmire," and estimates "the odds are not great of our prevailing there."

But, speaking for an interview that appears in the November issue of Ladies Home Journal, Clinton qualified his quagmire remark by saying, "It's not Vietnam."

"The reason this is not Vietnam is that 58% of the eligible voters showed up and voted in Iraq," Clinton told the magazine. The South Vietnamese government was "never legitimate" in the eyes of the Vietnamese, he said.

The former President, who has teamed up with President Bush's father to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina and last December's Indian Ocean tsunami, said the key to success is getting the Iraqis to defend themselves against the insurgents.

"Having said that, it could go wrong," Clinton admitted. "Since the end of World War II, the only major foreign power that succeeded in putting down an insurgency was the British putting down the Malay insurgency, but the British stayed 15 years.

"So you can say for historical reasons, the odds are not great of our prevailing there," Clinton pointed out.

Clinton's spokesman told the Daily News yesterday his boss remains staunchly committed to a U.S. victory in Iraq.

"President Clinton has always been clear that there are reasons for optimism and that there clearly are reasons for concern with the current situation in Iraq," said spokesman Jay Carson. "But no one has been clearer than President Clinton about the necessity of winning now that we are there."

The White House had no immediate comment. But Clinton's bombshell critique was another blow to a besieged Bush who has struggled to shore up sagging public support for his Iraq policy, as American combat deaths approach 2,000 more than two years after Bush declared "Mission Accomplished."

In a speech today, the President will try again to convince Americans that Iraq is part of the war on terrorism, and that the U.S. and its allies will win the military campaign there.

Vice President Cheney laid the groundwork for Bush's speech in remarks yesterday to the Association of the U.S. Army in which he suggested the struggle for democracy in Iraq will take many years.

"Like other great duties in history, it will require decades of patient effort, and it will be resisted by those whose only hope for power is through the spread of violence," Cheney said.

"As the people of that region experience new hope, progress and control over their own destiny, we will see the power of freedom to change our world and a terrible threat will be removed," Cheney added.

So far, about 64,000 Iraqi police and soldiers have been deemed ready to engage in combat alongside U.S. forces, the Pentagon has said.