Watch CBSN Live

Clinton Urges Bush To Get U.N. Backing

Former President Clinton said Friday he favors getting United Nations backing for the use of force, if necessary, to disarm Iraq's President Saddam Hussein.

"He's got a very dangerous (weapons) program. We need to eliminate it," Mr. Clinton said in a broadcast interview.

Speaking from Africa where he is on tour, the former president said, "I think we ought to go to the United Nations. I think we ought to get a tough resolution which basically says we'll take Saddam Hussein up on his commitment to free and unfettered inspections."

"If he doesn't comply," Mr. Clinton said, a U.N. resolution should make clear that the international community "is authorized to use force."

Mr. Clinton declined to rate President Bush's performance in the war on terrorism, saying that wasn't an appropriate thing for him to do. He said he was confident the Bush administration was doing everything in its power to fight terror.

He also refused to comment on the harsh criticism of Mr. Bush earlier this week by former Vice President Al Gore, saying he hadn't read Gore's speech.

Gore told a San Francisco audience he thought Mr. Bush's recent heavy focus on Saddam was undermining the broader U.S. war against terrorism and the al Qaeda network.

"I'm overseas and I don't like to get into comments on our foreign policy when I'm there," Mr. Clinton said. But he also said, "I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time. That is, I think we can turn up the heat on Iraq and retain our focus on terror."

"Let's don't relax our efforts. Let's intensify our efforts," the former president said. "They (al Qaeda terrorists) still have plans to target Americans within the United States and elsewhere and I think we should all support the administration and whatever has to be done to eradicate this network."

"I do think that all of us should not forget that it was Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda who murdered those 3,100 people on Sept. 11," he said.

Mr. Clinton said he was somewhat troubled by the administration's revision in U.S. military doctrine to shift emphasis to a pre-emptive first-strike posture rather than one requiring provocation before attack.

"I think, obviously, the further you get away from the imminence of an attack, the slipperier the slope," he said. "But when you have ongoing terrorist networks, for example, you see the argument for it. But it also is fraught with difficulty."

Appearing on CBS' "The Early Show," Mr. Clinton said he thought there was "still a chance" for Mr. Bush and Democrats to come together on a strong congressional resolution. "I don't think we should characterize every difference of policy opinion as a partisan difference," he said.