General Hugh Shelton, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during parts of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, has a new memoir out that contains this significant-seeming story: Back in the late 1990s, Shelton says a member of Clinton’s cabinet asked him to allow Saddam Hussein to shoot down an American plane over Iraq as a pretext for starting a war. The way Shelton tells the story, this was a serious request.
Remember, the context here is the Clinton Administration’s years of trying to overthrow Saddam — including in a little-remembered 1996 CIA coup attempt. In December 1998 (most likely after the request was made to Shelton), Clinton bombed Iraq for four days in Operation Desert Fox, which Clinton said was a response to Saddam’s lack of cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors.
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