After a decade of U.S. war in the Middle East, it is easy to understand the trepidation, skepticism, even outright opposition, with which yet another military adventure in the region could be met.
Indeed, in the days since combat operations began last weekend, voices across the political spectrum have emerged to raise legitimate questions and even objections to the endeavor. These run from Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio on the left, to Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana on the right.
Clearly, opposition to the U.S. action in Libya isn’t unanimous, certainly on the left. That’s why the head of the prominent progressive group Democracy for America sent an email to supporters on Wednesday titled, “Where do you stand on Libya?” Jim Dean, brother of former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, wrote:
Last weekend, President Obama took decisive action and “authorized armed forces of the United States to begin military action in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians,” yet, many Democrats in Congress are expressing reservations or even outright opposing the decision, We’d like to hear from you. What do you think?
He’s clearly acknowledging a lack of clear consensus on the issue, even among progressives.
Personally, I’m torn. I see obvious benefit in preventing Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi from mowing down his own population merely for wanting to see him out of power, yet I freely acknowledge the host of issues, and potentially deep pitfalls that come with the endeavor.
Before being accused of hypocrisy myself, let me be clear about one thing: the operation in Libya does not equate to that which went on in Iraq. George W. Bush only retroactively tried to justify the war in Iraq by the brutality of Saddam Hussein. His case for war was built on a web of lies regarding weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be entirely fictitious. When he launched his invasion of Iraq, the United Nations was against it and wanted more time to investigate the WMDs.
The broad international community today is demanding no such delay in acting against Gaddafi. That said though, President Obama has much to answer for in authorizing strikes against Libya. Senior members of his administration ought to be questioned in detail by members of Congress, If Obama’s Libya policy turns out to be wrong, so be it.
The honest and principled discussion, debate, even opposition, ought to continue. But it shouldn’t be clouded by the abhorent kind of politics practiced by the likes of Gingrich and Santorum.