Today is another day of reports from the Republican Hamster Cage where conservatives are spinning furiously in every direction on Libya, Woops, Newt Did It Again: Trying To Defend Libya Flip-Flop, Gingrich Reverses Himself On Air Power. And here, Right Wing’s Libya Kitchen-Sink Attack in which Obama is guilty of all the following – Obama Is “Feeble” And “Dithering”, But Obama Is Just Doing It Wrong, And Obama Collaborated Too Much With Other Countries, But Not Enough Other Countries, If Nothing Else Sticks, Let’s Just Call It “Obama’s Iraq”. Are we even in a war. Spencer Ackerman, who is a good political analysts and someone who I usually agree with more often than not might be right in between the cynicism and righteous indignation, While Libya War Grows, Obama Team Denies It’s a War
But that’s the spin from the Obama White House. While the president travelled through Latin America, his aides told sympathetic audiences in Washington that Operation Odyssey Dawn “is a limited humanitarian intervention, not war,” in the words of White House Mideast troubleshooter Dennis Ross. A letter to Congress notifying lawmakers that Odyssey Dawn was in effect studiously avoided the word “war,” preferring the more anodyne “military efforts” — which are “discrete” and “limited in their nature, duration, and scope.”
Ross’ remarks are outright deceptive. And it fits a pattern with President Obama: escalating U.S. military commitments while portraying them as essentially finite and limited.
It does depend on how you define war. Whether it is or not Ackerman thinks Obama did have the presidential authority to begin this whatever it is based on the War Powers Act. The NATO enforcement and UN sanctioned intervention could be a little of both. A war and humanitarian intervention. Once the Libyan rebels had gained ground and had areas that were clearly rebel controlled that very prgress is what doomed them. Once Gaddafi had a an area which he could call a rebel stronghold, that was the point at which he started his air and tank attacks. Not intervening, whether one approves or not, would have meant wide spread slaughter of tens of thousands of Libyans. Maybe Obama’s reasons are not pure as the driven snow as Josh Marshall, Digsby and Glenn Greenwald claim, but that does not mean his intentions and those of NATO do not have some humanitarian merit. Do all politicians have a tendency to massage their messages. You can pretty much bet on that.
I’m familiar enough with Marshall, Digsby and Greenwald to know they generally make good faith cases. I am equally familiar with the usual suspects on the Right. They have never made habit of making honorable arguments, honest arguments or arguments based on any recognizable school of reasoning. In all things pertaining to foreign affairs, what they like, want, think they need and feel in their pointed heads on any day or occasion is what passes for just and moral. Keyboard commando and perennial bed wetter Ed Morrissey and his current roost at Hot Air is a fair example of taking this opportunity to spin the present with a well spun past, Former Bush officials agree: Obama clueless. As one can see from all the links, the Right has dutifully genuflected to Hot Air’s spin. Praising the spinmeisters of the Bush era and written by one of the shameless crittens who perpetuated every known lie about Bush and Iraq from the non-existent WMD to al-qaedaconnections to Iraq, in the lead up to the invasion of that country.
Had Bush started a war in this fashion in 2007 or 2008, when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, Democrats wouldn’t have stopped at a barbecue. Nancy Pelosi would almost certainly have started impeachment proceedings, which would have failed as Republicans rallied to the President.
Sure it would make all the booboos better if President Obama had taken eight months to spread lies about Libya the way Bush, Hot Air and the rest of the bed wetters did about Iraq ( and by the way Pelosi said during the 2006 mid-terms that impeachment was “off the table”). These would be the same Bush administration officials who relied so heavily on the word of one informant to send over four thousand Americans to their deaths. Yep, enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya is exactly like that.
Since it took the President more than four weeks to make up his mind, their argument can also be reflected back on the White House. The delay and vacillation cost lives as well. In fact, since they missed an opportunity to keep Moammar Gaddafi penned up in Tripoli, it cost even more lives and put the lives we’re saving now at risk from our own attacks on Gaddafi’s forces in Benghazi. Furthermore, it also provided plenty of time for Obama to consult with Congress while deciding to take the nation to war for whatever reason.
Gaddafi is penned up in Tripoli. Hot Air expert makes a living – besides his government pension – from writing “news” for Hot Air. Not only is MG in Tripoli, he is not happy about it, Gaddafi’s entourage sends out secret peace feelers
Members of Muammar Gaddafi’s entourage are putting out feelers to seek a ceasefire or safe passage from Libya, according to U.S. and European officials and a businessman close to the Libyan leadership.
Messages seeking some kind of peaceful end to U.N.-backed military action or a safe exit for members of Gaddafi’s entourage have been sent via intermediaries in Austria, Britain and France, said Roger Tamraz, a Middle Eastern businessman with long experience conducting deals with the Libyan regime.
Tamraz said Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Muammar’s eldest son, and Abdullah Senoussi, the Libyan leader’s brother-in-law, were the most prominent Gaddafi entourage members involved in seeking ways to end the fighting.
A U.S. national security official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that U.S. government agencies were aware that Saif al-Islam and Senoussi had been involved in making peace overtures.
Morrissy and the Right had their noses so far up Bush’s ass for years you could not distinguish between the two. Needless to say that any criticism of Bush’s war meant the critic was pro terrorist and Un-American. Now, Obama’s humanitarian mission or war or whatever you want to call it can be attacked for any reason that pops into their heads – amazingly to include Obama did not act fast enough. Just a reminder of Bush’s approach to war and Iraq, Bush Was Set on Path to War, British Memo Says
Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.
Obama waited for the tide to turn in Libyan to the point there seemed a choice between a slaughter or letting events run their course. Obama also waited until he did have an agreement by the UN and NATO. Acting like a cautious adult before taking human life, Hot Air and others tacitly admits, is a trait gone wanting aming right-wing conservatives, who are and were willling to use decepetion to drag the country into an actual war,
The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.
And let’s kill the revival of another less than truthy assertion by the Right that Bush 43 had a great and willing coalition to invade Iraq, Coalition of the billing — or unwilling?
Such are the naked politics of checkbook diplomacy, currently on gaudy display as the Bush administration tries to pull from among the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council the nine votes required to authorize an invasion. In the tug-of-war over the six undecided countries that will determine the final outcome, the U.S. is brandishing its wallet as a weapon. Guinea, Mexico, Chile, Angola, Cameroon and Pakistan all face the same dilemma this week: Ignore mounting opposition to war at home, or face the wrath of Washington?
Turkey has been offered $6 billion in direct aid, plus billions more in loans, if it will allow the U.S. to base soldiers there in advance of an invasion. But promises are flowing to nations far from the war front. A no vote by Chile could jeopardize a bill now pending in Congress for increased trade access — a measure worth billions of dollars over time. For Cameroon, a proposed 670-mile oil pipeline from Chad to be built by Exxon Mobil and ChevronTexaco is at stake. Poland stands to win $3.8 billion in loans for military aircraft. Bulgaria has no doubt heard hints that it could win a chance to host a new U.S. military base, which would inject millions into its economy. Guinea’s army rangers continue to need U.S. training to prevent attacks from neighboring Liberia.
Of the 48 or 49 countries that have been described as the “coalition of the willing”, only three contributed troops to the invasion force. Some contributed troops afterwards as part of a stabilization force. Obama has more actual supportive participants than Bush. Many of Bush’s coalition were literally bribed or coerced into participating – United States Puts a Spin On Coalition Numbers. In the Right’s version of the story this was all justified because there were a few old leaky chemical weapons canisters found. Even if those canisters could have been moved without killing the handlers, what would Saddam had done with them. Made a giant sling-shot and hurled them over the Atlantic. Listening to the Right’s hypocritical and sanctimonious advice about when or how to engage in any military conflict is like listening to an arsonist with third degree burns lecture you about how to use matches.
Here are the differences between George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the current United Nations action in Libya:
1. The action in Libya was authorized by the United Nations Security Council. That in Iraq was not. By the UN Charter, military action after 1945 should either come as self-defense or with UNSC authorization. Most countries in the world are signatories to the charter and bound by its provisions.
2. The Libyan people had risen up and thrown off the Qaddafi regime, with some 80-90 percent of the country having gone out of his hands before he started having tank commanders fire shells into peaceful crowds. It was this vast majority of the Libyan people that demanded the UN no-fly zone. In 2002-3 there was no similar popular movement against Saddam Hussein.
3. There was an ongoing massacre of civilians, and the threat of more such massacres in Benghazi, by the Qaddafi regime, which precipitated the UNSC resolution. Although the Saddam Hussein regime had massacred people in the 1980s and early 1990s, nothing was going on in 2002-2003 that would have required international intervention. * see note.
update: Marc Lynch puts is more succinctly than I have, The U.N.’s High Stakes Gamble in Libya
Yesterday’s UN Security Council vote authorizing a No-Fly Zone and more against Libya has brought the United States and its allies into another Middle Eastern war. The charge leveled by advocates of the war that Obama has been “dithering” is as silly as is the counter-argument that the West has been itching for an excuse to invade Libya to seize its oil. The administration clearly understands that military intervention in Libya is a terrible idea, and hoped for as long as possible that the Libyan opposition could prevail without outside military assistance. It only signed on to the intervention when it became clear that, as DNI James Clapper testifed to great public abuse, Qaddafi had tipped the balance and was likely to win. The prospect of Qaddafi surviving and taking his revenge on his people and the region is what forced the hand of the United States and the Security Council.
Conservatives learned absolutely nothing from Iraq. No surprise the same is true of conservatives and Wall Street’s ravaging of the nation’s economy, Rep. Weiner On The GOP War On Dodd-Frank: If They ‘Have Their Way, We’re Going To Have More Bailouts’
As Wall Street speculative trading on oil helps push up the price of gasoline, threatening to derail the economic recovery, the government agency charged with regulating oil speculation has so far failed to properly do so. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law gave the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) new powers to regulate oil speculation, but the Republican members of the commission, along and one Democrat, have blocked the CFTC from writing the rules necessary to exercise this power. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are hoping to slash the agency’s budget by a third.
Can you smell that old time tea smoker populism. Let the same lobbyists and corrupt big banks that fought regulation and against the enforcement of regulation, to decide how to lead us all down the next rabbit hole and the next economic collapse.
* The Right likes to drag up the dead bodies of the those Saddam killed in the 80s and early 90s as justification for a war in 2003. There are lots of problems with that ridiculous rationale. One is that once these atrocities became known during the Reagan administration, Democrats wanted to pass sanctions and it was Dick Cheney and Colin Powell who fought against them.