Clinton Says U.S. Will Watch Iraq Closely
President announces good economic, bad education statistics
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 24) -- In a talk to a Jewish women's group Tuesday, President Bill Clinton said the world must watch closely to insure Iraq's Saddam Hussein lives up to the weapons-inspection agreement he struck with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. (640K wav sound)
If the deal is put into effect and Iraq complies, Clinton said, "Finally and for the first time in seven years, all of Iraq will be open to U.N. inspections, including many sites previously declared off-limits. This would be an important step forward.
"Once again, we have seen that diplomacy backed by resolve and strength can have positive results for humanity," Clinton said. "We have to be watching very closely now to see not just what Iraq says, but what it does, not just the stated commitments, but the actual compliance."
Clinton said the U.S. "must remain committed to see that Saddam Hussein does not menace the world with weapons of mass destruction."
Clinton, who appeared before The National Council of Jewish Women, urged the group's members to educate their neighbors about the threat that chemical and biological weapons pose.
After the Iraq update, Clinton focused his speech on newly released economic statistics and education testing results.
"Today we learned some more good news," Clinton said. "First, that in spite of the growth of the last year, the inflation rate and Consumer Price Index remained absolutely stable and very low." (512K wav sound)
Despite the good news on the economic front, there was bad news for the country's educational standing, the president said. Twelfth-grade math and science scores are poor, with the U.S. ranking 21 out of 23 of industrialized countries participating in an international study released Tuesday. No Asian countries participated.
Clinton detailed his administration's education initiatives to address the discrepancy and boost achievement. "It is not inevitable that we have low scores on comparative exams," he said.
"We need to have smaller classes, better teaching, harder courses, higher standards, greater accountability and more reform," Clinton said. "Next, we would continue our movement toward national academic standards and voluntary national exams to measure how our children are doing according to high national standards.
"This cannot be rocket science," he concluded. "There is no excuse for this. So again I say, I am hoping and praying that we can continue to put aside partisan politics when it comes to education and continue to move forward on these things."