In the rush to act in Libya, some liberals have conveniently forgotten many of the arguments they made opposing American intervention in Iraq. Whether one agrees with the President’s current course of action, the left’s old arguments against intervention in Iraq are applicable to the present Libyan conflict. Here are a few examples:
1. America Has Too Many Domestic Problems to Fight Another Foreign War
When President Bush invaded Iraq, many liberals criticized him for opening a second front in the War on Terror. Today, many liberals are strangely silent as President Obama opens a third front in another Muslim country.
America’s fiscal situation today is worse than it was before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2002, unemployment averaged 5.8%, the budget deficit was 1.5% of GDP, and the national debt was nearly 34% of GDP. In 2010, unemployment averaged 9.6%, the budget deficit was 8.9%, and the national debt was over 62% of GDP.
Before Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom, America was engaged in one war. Before Obama attacked Libya, America was fighting two.
Where is the outrage? Where are the protests?
2. The Conflict Is Illegitimate
From the Iraq War’s beginning until even now, liberal demonstrators have decried that war’s alleged “illegitimacy.” As recently as this past Saturday, protesters heckled President Bush’s national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, at a San Francisco forum for his role in the Iraq War. Yet many left wing activists appear strangely silent on Libya.
Despite attempts to convince Saddam to disclose his WMD programs, he refused. After the fall of Iraq, Qaddafi disclosed Libya’s nuclear, biological, chemical, and ballistic missile programs to the West. After 2003, Qaddafi no longer constituted a threat to American vital interests. In fact, the United States is now attacking one of the few nations that has ever voluntarily disclosed its WMD programs.
President Bush began a six-month campaign to build support for military action against Iraq with a speech to the United Nations on September 12, 2002 . Nearly a month later, both the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to authorize an attack on Iraq if Saddam did not come clean on his WMD.
In contrast, President Obama neither sought nor obtained formal approval from Congress. He did, however, seek United Nations approval before attacking Libya.
This begs another question: Whom does President Obama really serve, the American people or the United Nations?
Furthermore, the President acted less than five weeks after Qaddafi started killing civilians, leaving little time for a national debate. Who is rushing to war now?
3. America Has No Clear Exit Strategy
Another major liberal contention is that President Bush engaged in an open-ended military adventure in Iraq. Yet President Bush clearly defined the mission in Iraq as one of regime change. Can the Obama administration say the same about Libya? On Meet the Press, Admiral Mullen maintained that America’s mission in Libya was “very specifically focused on humanitarian efforts protecting the civilians in Libya.”
President Obama’s objectives in Libya seem vague. For instance, when will the United States know the mission has ended? What will victory look like? Furthermore, by pledging that the United States would deploy no ground troops to Libya, the President has communicated to Qaddafi that all options are not on the table. This statement signals that America is not fully committed to the mission, and it could prove problematic for the President if the conflict escalates to where ground forces become necessary.
Libya does not appear to hold up to the left’s own withering critique of the Iraq War. What has changed?