A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article at TMV noting that the size and fervor of the anti-war movement has been significantly smaller since Obama entered the White House despite the fact that Obama has stepped up our presence in Afghanistan and intervened in Libya without a congressional declaration of war. I pointed out that while the libertarian wing of the anti-war movement has remained strong in its criticism of our foreign policy, anti-war liberals and anti-war Democrats have been rather muted in their criticism of the Obama administration on the foreign policy front.
Yet with the fall of Moammar Gadhafi and celebrations underway both in Libya and in the United States, we’re now seeing this double standard manifest itself even more nakedly.
Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner writes:
President Obama injected the U.S. military into Libya’s civil war without ever seeking congressional approval, or leading a public debate. To square this clearly illegal action with the law and his previous statements about presidential war powers, his lawyers (who, like Obama, had fiercely attacked Bush’s overreaches on war) argued that our air strikes in Libya did not count as “hostilities” as defined by the law.
Today, it looks like the rebels we’ve backed have succeeded in deposing Moammar Gadhafi, (which, you’ll remember, was not the aim of our intervention). Setting aside the questions of the U.S.’s role in nation-building and peacekeeping, should we now forget about the fact that our President illegally launched us into a war?
Glenn Greenwald of salon.com is even harsher on his fellow Democrats, pointing out their intellectual inconsistency of Democrats who opposed the Iraq War but support Obama’s interventions in Libya:
As I’ve emphasized from the very first time I wrote about a possible war in Libya, there are real and important differences between the attack on Iraq and NATO’s war in Libya, ones that make the former unjustifiable in ways the latter is not (beginning with at least some form of U.N. approval). But what they do have in common — what virtually all wars have in common — is the rhetorical manipulation used to justify them and demonize critics. Just as Iraq War opponents were accused of being “objectively pro-Saddam” and harboring indifference to The Iraqi People, so, too, were opponents of the Libya War repeatedly accused of being on Gadaffi’s side (courtesy of Hillary Clinton, an advocate of both wars) and/or exuding indifference to the plight of Libyans. And now, in the wake of the apparent demise of the Gadaffi regime, we see all sorts of efforts, mostly from Democratic partisans, to exploit the emotions from Gadaffi’s fall to shame those who questioned the war, illustrated by this question last night from ThinkProgress, an organization whose work I generally respect:
The towering irrationality of this taunt is manifest. Of course the U.S. participation in that war is still illegal. It’s illegal because it was waged for months not merely without Congressional approval, but even in the face of a Congressional vote against its authorization. That NATO succeeded in defeating the Mighty Libyan Army does not have the slightest effect on that question, just as Saddam’s capture told us nothing about the legality or wisdom of that war. What comments like this one are designed to accomplish is to exploit and manipulate the emotions surrounding Gaddafi’s fall to shame and demonize war critics and dare them to question the War President now in light of his glorious triumph.
Nick Gillespie of Reason also notices the hypocrisy coming from partisan Democrats but praises Glenn Greenwald as one of the few people on the Left who can be counted on for remaining true to his principles on foreign policy regardless of which party controls the White House:
I don’t always agree with Greenwald on a range of issues, but there’s no doubt that he is not a situational ethicist, whose foreign policy (and domestic policy for that matter) depends simply on whether a particular development helps his preferred candidate or party at a given moment. Politics would be a lot less odious if there were more thinkers like that.
I second Nick Gillespie’s thoughts and will go a bit further. I admire those on the left who–like Greenwald–have been intellectually consistent on this matter and pity those–such of those examples noted above–who are more interested in cheering on their own party and scoring cheap points against their political opponents than standing up for the most basic of political principles.
Birthplace: San Diego, CA
Birthdate: That’s for me to know
Political Party: Independent
Political Philosophy: Libertarian-liberal