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British newspapers divided on whether to support Clinton Some question his motives, authority in Iraq crisis


LONDON -- Even in the darkest hours of his administration, President Clinton seems to have some British friends left, although they may be a diminishing band.

One day after Prime Minister Tony Blair backed Clinton in the Houses of Commons,the normally conservative Times of London newspaper scored a few blows yesterday against the president's congressional rivals.

The Times labeled as 'highly irresponsible," the decision by Republican leaders to move ahead with impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives while the U.S.-British air campaign continued in Iraq.

"President Clinton's necessary authority as Commander-in-Chief has been called in question just when it is most required," the paper said in its lead editorial. "This untimely display of partisan politics serves neither justice, nor respect for the American Constitution, nor American leadership in the world."

The Daily Mail saw things differently, running a front-page headline with a rhetorical question, "Is Slick Willie risking British lives to save his own neck?"

In an editorial, the paper wrote, "The tragedy is that the West is saddled with a deeply unworthy leader at this moment of crisis. If Saddam [Hussein] is crushed, as he deserves to be, it will not be because of Bill Clinton, but because of the bravery and dedication of British and American forces. May they come safely home."

London's Daily Telegraph also targeted Clinton's authority, writing in an editorial, "When a U.S. President can no longer order military action without prompting a heated debate about his motives, it is clear that his credibility is beyond repair."

The paper added, 'there is now a danger that Bill Clinton's lack of moral standing will tarnish a legitimate policy, one that is difficult enough to sustain in the best of circumstances."

Pub Date: 12/19/98

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