Let’s Be Clear: Eight Years Later

Today the president ordered a military offensive against a brutal dictator without the approval of Congress. I bet there will be all sorts of outrage and massive anti-war riots in the streets. Let me just check some popular liberal sites … hmm … nothing on Daily Kos. Talking Points Memo is fairly muted, and Michael Moore is still squawking about Wisconsin. Hell, HuffPo looks downright hawkish. “Not in our name” indeed.*

Putting aside the snark, here’s a statement from Obama:

I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we place on it. I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it’s not a choice that I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.

Coincidentally, today is also the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. What did our current commander-in-chief think of brutal dictators prior to the invasion of Iraq? Here’s a quote from a 2002 stump speech:

Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. The world, and the Iraqi people would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

Let me be clear: I’d like to think the experiences of the last eight years — Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Tunisia, Egypt — have made Obama a little wiser in regards to America’s responsibility to foster and support freedom in the world, hence his decision to stop Gaddafi from slaughtering his own people. However, I suspect his rhetoric and actions, just as they were in 2002, are motivated more by political expediency than anything else. (Say what you will about Bush, and there’s plenty to say, but no one ever accused him of making the easy or popular decisions.) Luckily for the people of Libya, political expediency is in their favor.

*Not in Our Name shuttered its doors in 2008 after liberals became profoundly unconcerned with what was attached to their name besides “hope” and “change.”


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