Former President Clinton Reflects

ByABC News
November 17, 2004, 3:11 PM

Nov. 17, 2004 -- -- If former President Clinton has been more absorbed in his thoughts than usual lately, it shouldn't be a surprise.

His presidential library has opened in his old hometown of Little Rock, Ark. Its collection is drawn from 630 tons of materials -- 80 million pages of presidential records, 79,000 museum objects and almost 2 million photographs -- more material than any president has had to date.

Earlier this week, Clinton sat down with ABC News' Peter Jennings to talk not only about his past and his legacy, but the future -- of his beleaguered party, his country, and even himself.

Some excerpts of the Nov. 16 interview follow.

I think that even I underestimated the level of opposition, at least given the troop strength we had there. You know, my position on the Iraq War was different from almost everybody else's that I've heard talk. I supported giving the president the authority to take action against Saddam Hussein if he did not cooperate with the U.N. inspectors, or if he was found to have had weapons of mass destruction he wouldn't give up. I did believe that the administration made a mistake going to war when they did, and that's what alienated the world. Most Americans still haven't focused on this.

We as America, we don't need to look like an occupying power. We don't need to be trying to rig the outcome. But if they're capable of both self-government and security, then I think, in the end, it could still be a net plus for the region. And that is what I think our goal ought to be. You know, I don't follow it on a day-to-day basis. I'm not there. I'm concerned about it.