[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
Update: Hotairalanche! Joking aside, thanks to Hot Air for the link. Please enjoy the main site, and you might also be interested in this post arguing that as it stands now, the war in Libya is illegal.
Update (II): Instalanche! Thanks! And for the record, Glenn, I totally understand the desire, even if I am trying (and maybe failing some) to resist the temptation.
So over the weekend our military swung into action against Libya and we have bombed a few spots. It’s full on war.
And it’s quite tempting to then start pointing out the contradiction between supporting this action and opposing the war in Iraq. For instance, I wrote this almost a month ago:
On the other hand our military is preparing options for Obama. Which raises the question… Why? I mean assuming we don’t have Americans being taken hostages or anything like that, then, why? Would some liberal who claimed that it was wrong to intervene in Iraq explain why this is different? Why is it wrong to intervene to topple a dictator in Iraq, but okay in Libya? And what about the phrase, “no blood for oil?” Ring any bells?
Of course I am being facetious. I have consistently believed that it is actually okay to expend our military resources “merely” for human rights. It says something about the decency and honor of this country that most sane people are willing to do that now and then. But if our planes impose a no-fly zone, or what have you, unless the liberals take to streets in protest, it will prove that their opposition to the Iraq war was always about politics and not principle.
And indeed, more than a few people are pointing today the contradiction between Obama’s position on the Iraq War and this one.
And there’s nothing logically invalid about this. From the beginning, even when talking to the club for dictators known as the U.N., President Bush (II) depicted the impending war with Iraq as being at least in part about liberation. And today the only justification offered is that Libya is committing atrocities. If that justifies military action in Libya, how does it not in Iraq? And of course there is a far more compelling argument that if Qdaffy* survives this, we can expect him to disavow every agreement with the west, including the one forswearing WMDs. But then again, the argument that even if Qdaffy doesn’t currently have WMDs, he might get them in the future as a justification for war… would be very hypocritical if offered by an opponent of the Iraq War.
But before we hammer the President too hard, ask yourself a simple question. Is he right, right now? Forget what he said when he represented one of the most liberal jurisdictions in America, but is he right, right now? If he is, then we have, to a degree, a patriotic duty to put those criticisms aside. Maybe the President is too small to admit it, but either 1) he was full of it when opposing the Iraq War, or 2) he has changed his mind. And if you think he is making the right decision, we shouldn’t make it too difficult, politically, to do the right thing, or else he might stop doing the right thing. In other words, please lay off.
And I say that having done exactly the same thing in that quote above. I shouldn’t have and I won’t be doing it now. Yes, yes, we watched the left unfairly and dishonestly malign the Iraq War, giving our enemies aid and comfort as we fought that war. Hell, we have watched our media give out enemy propaganda that has actually led terrorists to kill our troops. The temptation to turn the screws on them is powerful. But sometimes patriotism requires us to suck it up and/or bite our tongues.
Of course, the next time the left complains about the Iraq War, we can bring this up. But we didn’t need this Libyan no-fly zone to prove the left was (mostly) hypocritical and likely insincere in their opposition to this war. We could have easily cited the actions we took in the former Yugoslavia to make that point.
And that is not to say that there is nothing to criticize, here, or that you should withhold those criticisms of the current war. For instance, am I the only person who finds it creepy that the President seemed to have no desire to go to war until the U.N. passed its resolution? The implication that we not only need their permission, but we are positively their attack dog is bad enough, but couldn’t we have at least been the leader of the pack instead of a beta male? And of course I question the President’s decision to go to war without Congressional approval. And no, I don’t think the War Powers Act really counts.
(Update: Discussion of the Constitutional issue, here.)
But I had lectured the left throughout the Iraq War that criticism has to be responsible, with an eye toward the safety of our soldiers and the success of the mission. That means going forward 1) we have to be careful not to report enemy propaganda as gospel truth, and 2) only serious substantive objections to this war should be raised. We should not be using this war to score points or to vindicate an honorable war (Iraq) that had been unfairly maligned. We owe our military men and women that much.
Oh and off-topic, but “Operation Odyssey Dawn“? Really? Shouldn’t the name of the war sound at least mildly badass?
* I have resolved from now on to call Libya’s leader Qdaffy, which I think originated with Iowahawk’s tweets. It seems about as valid a spelling as any other the others, right?
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]