After reading my recent column “Obama’s Libyan War,” a liberal friend took me to task: “Jack, you just don’t understand…” he began as he continued to explain the supposedly important humanitarian reasons for the President’s recent intervention. I just stared at him. I then asked, “If Bush had gone to war in Libya, would you have supported it?” He winced and replied, “Well, I would like to think I would.” “You’re lying,” I said, which he eventually admitted. I then added that any liberal who now says they would have supported Bush doing in Libya what they now support Obama doing is lying. And they know it.
If there’s one thing worse than hypocrites, its partisan hypocrites—and with this new Libyan war Obama Democrats have again proved themselves virtually identical to the Bush Republicans they once despised. I distinctly remember syndicated talk radio host Sean Hannity arguing with antiwar Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul that it was a moral imperative for America to invade Iraq to liberate its citizens from Saddam Hussein’s “genocide” and “rape rooms.” At the time, virtually no one on the Left accepted these purportedly humanitarian reasons as justifications for the invasion of Iraq.
Today, as most conservatives (including Hannity) either oppose or are highly skeptical of Obama’s “humanitarian” Libyan intervention, those most in favor of it are either the same neoconservatives who were the most enthusiastic about Iraq—and liberals most loyal to Obama. Said neoconservative godfather and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol on FOX News of Obama: “his sound policies are more like the policies people like me have been advocating for quite a while, I’m happy to support them. He’s a born-again neo-con.”
Kristol is essentially right. Virtually every argument Obama Democrats now make in support of Obama’s intervention—it’s a humanitarian mission, it will only take a few days or weeks, it’s in America’s interest—is identical to parts of the Bush administration’s case for the Iraq war.
There are some significant differences, all of which are negative for Obama. Bush at least claimed that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States. Obama has said up front that Muammar Gadaffi does not. Bush officials claimed that Iraqis would become natural allies who would greet as our soldiers as liberators. Obama officials admit that we don’t really know who these Libyan rebels are, and it has been reported that some have connections to Al-Qaeda. The Bush administration promised Iraq would be a short war or a “cakewalk.” The Obama administration promises a short war with no boots on the ground, at the same time CIA shoe leather hits the Libyan road and Gaddafi remains firmly in power. If we are to measure our foreign policy by proper defense as opposed to an irrational offense, this makes our current president’s Libyan war potentially worse than Bush’s Iraq debacle. Welcome to “quagmire” Obama-style.
One of the few liberals, and arguably my favorite, willing to point out the Democrats’ hypocrisy on Libya is The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. Said Stewart of Obama’s argument for a no-fly zone: “Stop the violence against the civilians, I kinda like that. But see, there are other civilians in other countries protesting, and they’re being killed too, and for them, we’re enforcing a ‘not-even-gonna-try zone.” As for our “new allies” Stewart noted: “So it seems like we’ve just taken sides in a civil war. And if that’s the case, I’d love to hear more about our new allies. What are their likes, dislikes? Is one of their dislikes, I don’t know, us? Do they believe America, the Great Satan, or just your average run-of-the-mill Satan?”
As for the now popular liberal defense that Obama has successfully handed over this Libyan mission to NATO, Stewart demolishes it: “So there is an exit strategy. We turned over the mission to NATO! Man, I feel bad for whoever the sucker is that’s the main driving force financially and weapon-wise in that organization, because those guys are … wait a minute. We’re NATO! That’s like Beyonce saying she’s ceding control… to Sasha Fierce.”
Perhaps the most amusing example of liberals trying to avoid their foreign policy hypocrisy came compliments of Sen. Rand Paul. The President intervened in Libya without consulting Congress which he is constitutionally required to do. Paul proposed recently that the Senate take an up or down vote on the following now famous 2007 Obama statement: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” Reported National Review Online: “Paul’s proposal flummoxed Reid, who does not want his members to have to weigh in on Obama’s dusty quote about congressional authority… If he allows a vote, Democrats are forced to either disagree with then-senator Obama or with President Obama. (Reid) may do anything to avoid a vote on Paul’s amendment.”
Reid is obviously and desperately attempting to obfuscate his party’s blatant hypocrisy. But Reid’s fluster is not unlike that of most of his fellow liberals—who continue to rationalize what they once denounced to avoid admitting they’ve become what they once despised.