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Clinton keeps war in mind with UF visit

Former President Bill Clinton is no stranger to problems with Iraq. Clinton took the reigns from George H. Bush just two years after he had officially declared the end of Operation Desert Storm.

Today, Clinton speaks at the University of Florida’s O’Connell Center to discuss the ongoing crisis with Iraq.

Clinton is expected to describe his experiences in the White House as they pertained to Iraq.

While Clinton hasn’t vowed his support for the war, he has said in the past he endorses the United Nations’ resolution that permits forcible removal of weapons of mass destruction if Saddam Hussein does not remove them himself.

Clinton’s handling of the situation in Iraq was intensely scrutinized, especially in 1998.

That year, in the midst of his impeachment due to a highly publicized sex scandal, Clinton launched a massive air strike against Iraq. Critics said he was simply diverting attention from his own situation. Clinton argued that Saddam’s defiance in removing weapons inspectors and compromising no-fly zones in Iraq was the “last straw.”

Recently, Clinton spoke at the University of Iowa where he showed support for President George W. Bush’s controversial plan to remove Saddam’s regime and rebuild Iraq.

“No one questions, I don’t think, that the (Iraqi) people would be better off with virtually any other form of government,” he said.

When Clinton took office in 1993, it wasn’t long before he was tested by Saddam.

During the first month of his presidency, Iraq ignored requests from U.N. weapons inspectors to move missiles the United States said it had positioned in the southern portion of the country. Clinton responded by launching 40 cruise missiles at Iraqi air defense targets, and destroying a suspected nuclear facility outside Baghdad.

Clinton rained more missiles onto Baghdad a few months later after U.S. intelligence discovered a failed assassination attempt against former President Bush.

In 1994, Clinton moved warships into the region after Saddam began moving troops toward Kuwait. With more than 50,000 U.S. troops poised to strike, Saddam withdrew his forces.

In 1996, Clinton initiated Operation Desert Strike when Saddam sent troops to the Kurdish city of Irbil. Clinton fired 58 cruise missiles until Iraqi forces receded.

From October 1997 to November 1998, Saddam defied weapons inspectors and eventually dispelled them from the country.

On Dec. 18, 1998, Clinton launched perhaps the most devastating and controversial of his attacks, shooting 320 cruise missiles into supposed chemical and biological factories killing as many as 2,000 Iraqi soldiers during Operation Desert Fox.

The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 3 p.m., Clinton’s speech starts at 3:30 p.m.

Information from the University Wire was used in this report