In a recent missive, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC called attention to the alleged "Hypocrisy of the American Left" regarding the war in Libya. He makes several claims that are not factual, and messes up the comparison of Libya to Iraq so badly that I wonder if he even reads the news or has any grasp of current events.
Scarborough remarks that antiwar activists on the left have been silent so far on the Libyan issue while they raised hell over George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq. To counter this point, Jason Linkins gives a point by point of Code Pink's recent protests and the arrests of many anti-war individuals at a rally in Washington, DC this month. Journalists such as Katrina Vanden Huevel and Glenn Greenwald, scholars like Juan Cole, and several Congressmen (even after the Tea Party cleaned out many lefties) have come out vocally against military action in Libya.
But my real problem with Scarborough is the false equivalence he holdss for Libya versus other nations like Iraq. He says:
How can the left call for the ouster of Muammar Qadhafi for the sin of killing hundreds of Libyans when it opposed the war waged against Saddam Hussein? During Saddam’s two decades in Iraq, he killed more Muslims than anyone in history and used chemical weapons against his own people and neighboring states.
If Obama and his liberal supporters believed Qadhafi’s actions morally justified the Libyan invasion, why did they sit silently by for 20 years while Saddam killed hundreds of thousands?
And how do they claim the moral high ground in Libya while not calling for the immediate invasion of Syria? The monstrous Bashar al-Assad regime is slaughtering his own people by the hundreds. More killings are sure to happen as that corrupt regime teeters on the brink of collapse.
In Yemen, the situation is no better. Government snipers shoot unarmed women and children from the rooftops of Sanaa. Should we follow Obama’s example in Libya and invade that country in the name of humanitarian relief? Or should we step into the breach in the Ivory Coast, where a terrifying civil war has led to a million refugees fleeing that country. And why do we not enter Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of innocents have been slaughtered over the past decade in a civil war of horrifying proportions?
First of all, every decision to engage militarily should be made on its own merits, and the ruse of humanitarianism should be assumed to be a rationale and not the sole reason. Is Libya like Iraq? Is Gadhafi like Saddam Hussein? Iraq was our ally for two decades, armed by the US against Iran (often against the protests from the left), and Hussein had never called for any attacks on US citizens or interests. Second of all, Iraq was saddled with a no-fly zone for ten years and had dismantled their own weapons programs, rendering an invasion unnecessary. Gadhafi, on the other hand, has attacked US soldiers, brought down US planes over Lockerbie, and has been a menace and not an ally to the United States for his entire 30 year reign. Third of all, the Libyan uprising was started by popular consent with an active revolution already taking place; Iraq was at relative peace with Hussein keeping the various faction quiet. Hussein had agreed to weapons inspections, and while hesitant, he had complied well-enough. What national interest was served by disrupting the Iraq hornet's nest, one that we are still expending resources to put back in place?
Scarborough alludes to Yemen, Syria, Sudan, and others. The President needs to weigh the national interests for each situation, the fact that our military resources are not unlimited (especially with so much still in Iraq), and the consent of our allies. No doubt there are several tragedies that one wishes we could remedy, but military intervention is not always the answer. Diplomatic and economic influence can be used as well; and also, we have to conclude sometimes that the US may not have an answer to some tragedies.
Who knows what will happen in Libya, but I do know that it's much different than Iraq. Scarborough complains that the left called Bush and Cheney Nazis while they give Obama a pass. Let's not start equating the most vitriolic rhetoric of one side with the standard view. Plenty of people on the extremes of both sides have lobbed irrational comparisons. For Scarborough to whine about that at this stage is comical. He ends with this:
In defending Obama’s Libya offensive, they ("the American left") are compromising their own morals. The American left is also making it abundantly clear that it does not find all wars morally reprehensible — only those begun by Republicans.
Scarborough's assumption is that "the left" cannot differentiate one war from another, and therefore they are "morally reprehensible." Quite a statement that has no bearing in fact. The lefties I know are not against all wars, just stupid ones. The Iraq war will be remembered as one of the most ill-timed, ill-conceived and mismanaged debacles in our nation's history. At a time when we should have been courting Islamic and Arabic allies, we kicked sand in their faces. The Libyan incursion, nominally backed by the Arab League, is such a far cry from the Iraq war that I wonder if Scarborough has even picked up a newspaper in the last 20 years.
war will be remembered as one of the most ill-timed, ill-conceived and mismanaged debacles in our nation's history. At a time when we should have been courting Islamic and Arabic allies, we kicked sand in their faces. The Libyan incursion, nominally backed by the Arab League, is such a far cry from the Iraq war that I wonder if Scarborough has even picked up a newspaper in the last 20 years.