A U.S. attack on Iraq could give Saddam Hussein an excuse to use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and its allies, former President Bill Clinton said Friday.
Clinton said the current administration should move cautiously on Iraq and urged President Bush to listen to Congress and the American public.
"Looking at it from the outside, it seems to me we have maximum incentive now for him not to use these weapons and not to give them to anybody. Because he knows all of America is ready to go after him, and would if he did that," Clinton said at the New York State Fair after speaking at a luncheon hosted by his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
"If he knew for sure we were coming, he might have maximum incentive to use them and to give them to other people," Clinton said.
The Bush administration, saying Saddam is developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, has discussed an invasion or bombing campaign to remove him from power.
President Bush has said Saddam must go, but that he has not yet decided how best to achieve that. But U.S. threats of war toward Iraq have grown louder in the last month, with Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials laying out the administration's case in recent speeches.
As he waited to tour the fairgrounds Friday, Clinton said there is no question Saddam is violating United Nations arms inspection resolutions, and that he likely is stockpiling chemical and biological weapons.
"The real question is whether an attack now, especially if we would have to go it alone, would be a net increase in the security of the United States and our friends and allies," Clinton said.
"That's a hard question to answer. And one that I think there needs to be a lot of public debate on," he said.
Clinton also said he is confident the United States would quickly win any war with Iraq because of the overwhelming mismatch of military power.