Oct 4, 1993... What were they saying?
President Clinton, being interviewed by Chris Wallace, was asked why he "didn't do more" after various attacks on the U.S., including the infamous "Black Hawk down" incident in Somalia in 2003. In response, President Clinton said, among other things, "They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in black hawk down and I refused to do it...." Really? Let's find out below the fold ...
Now, I agree with Captain Ed, there isn't much point in this discussion. I think President Bush did not do enough for 8 months, and I think President Clinton did not do enough for 8 years, but hindsight is 20/20. And I agree with Captain Ed, that I am not at all sure the U.S. would have tolerated a full scale effort - heck, we're barely able to muster public support for an effort now, after 9/11.
But I don't like to see history re-written, either. So, using Lexis, I went back and looked at news accounts to see what was said on the day after "Black Hawk down." Here, unedited, is every quote I could find from October 3, 1993, the day of the Black Hawk down incident, and October 4th and 5th, 1993 about what the U.S. should do (the search I ran called up every story that mentioned "Somalia" and "black hawk"):
Senator Bob Dole, (R- KS.,Senate Minority Leader) on CNN: "As the body bags pile up in Mogadishu, the confusion over U.S. objectives increase. U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Gahli has once again attempted to veto a U.S. effort on a political resolution and set limits on U.S. armed forces. I have to believe it's high time for Boutros-Gahli to recognize that we will decide what is in the American interest and that he is not empowered to make U.S. foreign policy;" and quoted in Newsday: "It seems to me it's time to take a hard, hard look on why we're still there. . . . It's gone from a humanitarian mission to almost an out right armed conflict, and it seems to me Congress and the administration ought to come to grips with this and make a decision one way or another."
Senator Robert Byrd (D- W.Va.) on CNN: "I believe we should disengage our forces and declare the U.S. contribution to this U.S. extravaganza over. We should bring the 1,500 or so Rangers that are serving in combat in Mogadishu, home as soon as possible," and "Americans by the dozens are paying with their lives and limbs for a misplaced policy."
Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ), on Face the Nation (quoted in Houston Chronicle): "I think we ought to leave now. I think we've accomplished our mission. I don't think we ought to be spreading troops all over the world. I think we ought to leave now."
Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga), on This Week w/ David Brinkley (quoted in Houston Chronicle): "I don't think we ought to get out. I don't believe in simply getting out. I don't believe in setting a date and saying we're going to get out by December the 1st;" and, as quoted in Orlando Sentinel, "We ought to be in a position of trying, in the Congress, of trying to say to the administration, 'We want a definable, narrow mission - not a date, but a narrow mission.'"
Sen. George Mitchell (D-Me., Senate Majority Leader)(on CNN, as quoted in Los Angeles Times): This, "clearly will increase the voices (in Congress) demanding withdrawal." [The article goes on to say, "Mitchell said he personally did not believe that the United States should pull its troops out of Somalia.")
Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN)(quoted in Houston Chronicle): "I think it would be a mistake, a serious mistake, simply to pack up and come home. That would let Aidid thumb his nose at the United States and come out a winner.'
Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo., House Majority Leader)(on NPR): "A lot of what we set out to do has been done. There is a great success story here that the television pictures don't always show because there are some failures, obviously, in the last few days that have been shown. But in all the other parts of the country, the food is being delivered. People are now eating, who were not eating. People are living, who were dying. So, there is a lot that has been accomplished. Obviously, we would like to leave and not have it go back to the situation as it was before we initially came. That, I think, is what we have been trying to do."
Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa)(quoted in States News Service): "This not what the American people want. We are entangled, we now have POWs, we have troops being fired upon on a daily basis, and we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel -- that is why we have to bring our troops home." The article also states, "Rep. Curt Weldon on Wednesday launched the beginning of what he says is a campaign to force the Clinton administration to withdraw American troops from Somalia.... Weldon has joined forces with Rep. Dan Mica, D-Florida, in an effort to force the House, through procedural means, to either instigate immediate committee action on a measure to pull troops out or face a politically sensitive House floor vote on the matter.
Rep. Tom Foglietta (D-Pa)(quoted in States News Service): "I don't think we can just turn our backs and walk away, although we did accomplish our mission as far as the hungry are concerned. We should take what ever force is necessary and wipe out Aideed's forces. If that is impossible to do then we should be thinking about something else. Should we withdraw immediately? I don't know."
Rep. Robert Walker (R-Pa) spokesperson (quoted in States News Service): "He has had reservations about U.S. intervention in Somalia from the beginning. He wasn't in favor of American forces being there in the first place and would certainly not like to see our troops undergo anymore danger."
That's it - every one. So I looked more broadly, searching all news reports on October 10-11, figuring I would catch Sunday commentary in both print and electronic press.
The Buffalo News reported on Oct. 10: "Democratic Party lawmakers such as Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Bill Bradley of New Jersey demanded an immediate pullout. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that if a vote were taken last week a majority of senators would vote for an immediate U.S. pullout.
Rep. Robert G. Torricelli, D-N.J., said that if the same vote were taken in the House "an overwhelming majority" would vote for it."
That's it for those dates. I searched for every mention of Somalia in National Review and The Weekly Standard, for the rest of the year. Not a thing. The American Spectator? No advice to pull out, although a there is a passing reference in the November issue to President Clinton's "reluctance to act" in Somalia.
The Lexis service, comprehensive as it is, is not always so back to the early 1990s. I'm sure there is much more, and many more ways to search. But if there was some Republican or conservative cabal "trying to get [President Clinton] to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in black hawk down," it sure isn't obvious.