Those are the words of former President Bill Clinton speaking to an audience of businessmen in Australia on September 10, 2001.
The very smart guy Clinton could have killed? That was Osama bin Laden who, just a few hours later, would become responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans in the most devastating attack on American soil in history.
Audio of Clintons speech became public yesterday when SkyNews, a British TV network, obtained a copy from an Australian politician.
Clinton went on to explain that he opted not to take out bin Laden because I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn't do it.
That Clinton had opportunities to kill the Al Qaeda leader is common knowledge. Several books and the 9/11 Commission Report revealed that the Clinton Administration considered a December 1998 strike against bin Laden but rejected the plan over possible collateral damage.
But this is the first time weve heard Clinton say that he would have been no better than the 9/11 mastermind had he followed through with the attack. This is typical moral preening from Clinton. But its also another example of the moral confusion that infects the left.
I've written many times that when the U.S. goes to war we make it very difficult to win because we play by the rules of leftist ideology. One of the reasons why the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on so long is that President Bush felt constrained by questions about what actions are permissible in a war. Those are important questions, but it rarely enters into the leftists mind that the point of a war is to win it.
President Obamas inability to understand this basic principle of war has had devastating effects not just for the United States and its allies but also, not ironically, for the cause of peace.
I bring this up because there seems to be a consensus that the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary, belong to the more serious wing of the left that understands the moral case for defeating evil.
But in view of this disclosure, and others, anyone tempted to believe this about the Clintons might want to think again. Some people consider Mrs. Clinton a hawk compared to her husband. But theres no real evidence that she takes seriously the foreign policy challenges of America and its allies.
When asked recently about Israels defense of itself in the current war, Clinton appeared to justify Hamas use of civilian areas to launch attacks against Israel by saying that Gaza is too small and densely populated to avoid launching attacks next to civilians.
Make no mistake: The Clintons aren't exceptions to the left-wing view that the enemy deserves to be treated as well as or better than we treat our own citizens and allies; they are among its most vocal advocates.