Using the same rationale George W. Bush used to go into Iraq, Barack Obama has now gone into Libya.
It seems that the world is upside down. Suddenly Republicans are concerned about going into a Middle Eastern country and and Democrats are gung-ho neocon warmongers.
The situation, of course, is not that simple.
Whether you think he lied, was misled, or was right, George W. Bush did make a case to Congress and the American people prior to going into Iraq that Iraq was training Al Qaeda and, given its weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda, was an imminent threat to the United States.
Again, you can think he lied. You can think he was misled. You can think he was right.
But Bush went to the United Nations, got the appropriate resolutions, went before the American people to make his case, and before going into Iraq received Congressional approval. In fact, it took him a year and a half to make his case. When he went in, he had 80% public approval and a much larger international coalition than Obama is taking with him.
He also could articulate an idea for an endpoint, whether you liked it or not.
Feel free to disagree with every justification and feel free to disagree with his idea of an endpoint, but recognize the factual timeline.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, has failed at several of these things.
He did not persuade the American people prior to intervention that the need was there. In fact, while Bush had support from 80% of the public, Obama isn’t cracking 48% for Libya.
Obama did not make his case to Congress and did not get any sort of Congressional resolution prior to engaging in Libya. He, not Bush, rushed to war . . . er . . . to kinetic military action.
All of that, though, is fungible and can be nitpicked over. Here, though, is where many Republicans, including myself, get off the intervention boat.
We know very little about the rebels we are helping.
From what we do know, a few things are ascertainable:
- They rebels are supported by Al Qaeda.
- By their own admission, many of the rebels were in Iraq fighting the United States before going home to fight Gaddafi.
- After 2001, Gaddafi was one of the most vocal and aggressive Arab leaders against Al Qaeda.
- Al Qaeda is more of a threat to the United States than Gaddafi.
With those points, many of us who are sympathetic to the idea of intervention are opposed to the intervention for the very simple reason that the regime we are supporting may be as bad, if not worse, than the regime we are opposing.
Right now, the best case is simply to sit back and root for injuries between the warring parties in Libya — not intervening for either side.
Oh, and if we are not interested in regime change and Gaddafi stays, he will become the menace to the United States he has not been since the 80’s.