Iraq

Obama's Doctrine of Preemptive War

The "anti-war candidate" puts some multilateral lipstick on George W. Bush's war pig

|

Anyone who was expecting the "anti-war" presidential candidate Barack Obama to be anything like an anti-war president was simply not paying sufficient attention to how he campaigned. It wasn't just the daily vows to escalate in Afghanistan, or the repeated promises to act "unilaterally" if need be. It was, as then-Reason Associate Editor David Weigel reported in 2008, that "he has called for, or retroactively endorsed, interventions in Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and Sudan."

So we knew that President Obama would not be anti-war, but rather anti-dumb-war, however defined by his braintrust. And we further knew that said braintrust would largely be copacetic with the post-Munich, post-Bosnia worldview of Madeleine Albright, Samantha Power, and a generation of foreign policy minds flexible enough to oppose the war in Iraq almost at least half as vociferously as they endorsed war in Kosovo.

But what we didn't know was, where do they draw the all-important line of whether and when the United States should use deadly force? Until last night, that is.

"We knew that…if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world," the president said last night. "It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen….Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

Do you remember when Democrats recoiled at the doctrine of preemptive war? Last night was the final reminder that, with the exception of some diehards like Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Democrats when wielding power are only against Republican preemptive war. If anything, they are more promiscuous in choosing conflicts than their warmaking brethren on the other side of the aisle; just less likely to go all-in with ground troops. Does it satisfy the consciences of Bush-hating interventionists merely that Obama made more nice-sounding comments about subsuming America's lead role within a United Nations-blessed coalition? And have they thought through even for one moment the kind of bar-lowering precedent they're setting for the next Republican president to send ground troops into wherever the hell?

This latter question is not rhetorical, and the answer to it is occasion for despair. Here's what Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough told the Associated Press in an article published yesterday: "[W]e don't get very hung up on this question of precedent because we don't make decisions about questions like intervention based on consistency or precedent. We base them on how we can best advance our interests in the region."

Set aside the administration's ever-elastic definition of "interests," and instead grok this: The Democratic foreign policy best and brightest have admittedly adopted as their causus belli for dropping bombs on a sovereign country the same test that former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart used for pornography: They know it when they see it. As for the rest of us taxpaying, war-weary plebes, we'll receive an "update" from the president now and then to let us know where his own eyes have taken him next.

So what's the danger of selectively and opportunistically preventing massacres? In Obama's relentless Third Way or Goldilocks-style interventionism—in which he's constantly taking some mythical middle road between the never-existing option of "turn[ing] away from the world" and a more plausible John McCain-style unrestrained war—there are always the dangers of an undefined mission, a fraying coalition, and a potential stalemate that exposes the faultline between a U.S.-led military action that falls short of beheading Libya's leader and an official U.S. policy that aims to accomplish precisely that task through some kind of non-military means.

But those are short-term concerns that may all turn out as well as can be expected. The medium-term issue is whether Washington has now irreversibly thumbed the scale on Arab Spring, making a complicated, sometimes thrilling and sometimes harrowing story of cross-border liberation into a conventional up-down question of America's will and blatant inconsistency on human rights. You could see that mission creep last night in Obama's own remarks, when he said things like, "I made it clear that Qaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power." And you could especially see it when he gave a stirring and inaccurate Bush-like boast that "wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States." (Tell it to the poor saps who live in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Mr. President.)

The Arab Spring, if the history of post-communist Europe is any guide (and it may not be!), will be successful in proportion to the ownership that the post-totalitarian countries have of their own revolutions and transitions. Injecting the overwhelming force of America into that process will, I think, delay, and not speed up, the eventual and hopefully inevitable Liberation Day.

And for those Democrats who are either cheering on or grimly supporting the president's actions, just remember this: Unless a Ron Paul-type miraculously emerges from the GOP field, the next Republican president now has an even lower bar than before when it comes to launching a preemptive war. There's a reason why the biggest fans of last night's speech were hawks like William Kristol: If you didn't like Iraq, you really won't like Iran. And when that day comes, please don't debase yourselves by crying crocodile tears over the Constitution, or pretending for even one second you are anti-war. 

Matt Welch (matt.welch@reason.com) is Editor in Chief of Reason, author of McCain: The Myth of a Maverick; and co-author with Nick Gillespie of the forthcoming The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America.

NEXT: Theocracy in America

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I thought the whole idea of pre-emptive war was to attack people before they attack you. I don’t think that’s been offered as a justification for this, has it?

    1. Nope, definitely not using preemption as justification…

      “We knew that…if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world,” the president said last night. “It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen….Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

      1. Libya is the only place in the world where the U.S. could have prevented massacres during my presidency.

        Everything was just hunky dory in the world until Qaddafi started asking for a beat down.

        Let me be clear, this is not a bullshit excuse. I really care when people are getting hurt.

        If my advisors had told me about The Sudan and stuff, I would have sent some bombs in there too.

        This is all my advisors fault.

        1. Coming soon…

          India
          Somalia
          Pakistan
          Yemen
          Mexico
          Sudan
          etc…

          1. “Today [fill-in-the-blank] is ours; tomorrow the whole world.”

            1. Obama blew such a golden opportunity with Qadaffy:

              I have an honorable compromise.
              Just walk away.
              Give me the pump
              the oil
              the gasoline
              and the whole compound, and I’ll spare your lives.
              Just walk away. I will give you safe passage in the Wasteland.
              Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.

              1. So full of awesome. And he’d listen, because we have Mel Gibson.

                1. How the fuck did they fit all that oil in a few barrels scattered in vans anyway? And how did they not run out with the flamethrowers burning at idle 24/7?

                  1. It was more that they were running a refinery for gasoline over an oil deposit. It wasn’t about the amount of gasoline they were making, they only need to haul enough to make it to the resort town on the ocean that they were resettling to. They had plenty of gas to run the flamethrowers, what they didn’t have was a gasoline truck to use as a decoy. They only kept the refinery running to make them think that they were filling the truck.

                    Lord Humongous having his goons drive in a circle all day was the stupid waste of gas.

                2. Yeah, but the Israelis would be pissing their pants.

              2. Dude, that was awesome. Think of him in a loincloth and a hockey-mask on the Egyptian border, on his M1 tank.

                Blown opportunity indeed.

                1. And Biden in assless chaps pulling a pneumatic arrow out of his arm, Robert Gibbs getting his fingers sliced off by a boomerang, etc.

                  1. “assless chaps”

                    Wouldn’t assed chaps just be pants?

                    1. A pet peeve of mine. Chaps are tough leggings (usually leather) rigged to a belt, and are designed to allow a rider to move through heavy brush without leaving all of his leg skin behind. There has NEVER been a pair of chaps with a seat in them.

                      Fucking city boyz……

          2. Oh yes, and after that, the citizens of the United States who may end up wanting an end to tyranny and exploitation as well.

        2. Even if “humanitarian” intervention was a justification for military force,and the only justification, that should place an even greater amount of importance on getting approval from congress before taking taking action.

          The President implied their was a need to intervene because of “American values”. First off, Obama is one of the last people I want acting as my moral barometer. Second, if intervention was so inline with our “values”, then let our representatives have the final say on using military force in our names.

          Speaking of values, I thought liberals hated politicians who use the power of government to impose morals on a society?

          1. “””Speaking of values, I thought liberals hated politicians who use the power of government to impose morals on a society?””

            No silly, liberals hate politicians who use the power of government to impose morals other then liberal morals on a society. Liberals love it when government is used to impose liberal morals

          2. American values have been used as an excuse for tyranny at home and abroad from day one. If we judge by actions rather than words then said values must be: exterminate inconvenient minorities, dissidents, union organizers, and entire countries that present a real or imagined (mostly imagined) threats to our imperialist aims. In that sense this is right in line with said values.

      2. Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte

        and with a better football team…

        1. Though the Carolina style pork BBQ is better in Charlotte.

          1. “Benghazi Barbeque”

            1. Now with moar napalm!

              1. Mustard based naplam?

            2. Great ribs. They fall right off the bone.

        2. …and better benefits!

          I think.

          1. Enjoy getting spanked in Denver by the Chiefs twice a year.

            1. Enjoy getting spanked in Denver by the Chiefs twice a year.

              Big talk coming from a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since Clinton’s first term.

        3. beyond the pale…

        4. I see such cynicism here. IMO history will show this was a profound speech and a defining moment for Obama. I daresay he staked his claim to a legacy last night, for it was the birth of The Obama Doctrine. Let’s look at the stirring ideals evoked by President Obama.

          It is now the stated policy of the United States of America (unless and until a majority of polling-cognizant presidential advisors determines that BHO’s political interests require otherwise) that the United States will:

          1) in cases in which there is the prospect (definition to be determined)
          2) of a massacre (threshold lethality as quantified on a case-by-case basis by POTUS)
          3) of certain identifiable groups (as qualified by POTUS as politically worthy of protection)
          4) in urban areas as large as or larger than Charlotte, NC (based on the 2010 Census)
          5) the US will (probably)
          6) cobble together
          7) on an ad hoc basis
          8) a tiny and pretextual “coalition”
          9) in the name of which
          10) the US will execute a “unilateral kinetic military action”
          11) at such levels and for as long as the military situation requires, polling numbers permit or the checks don’t bounce.

          Such moving words. It just sings, doesn’t it? “Monroe Doctrine”? Please. “Truman Doctrine”? Pfffft. “Bush Doctrine”? Don’t make me laugh. Amateurs, all of them.

          The Obama Doctrine as propagated and so, uh, clearly defined in the President’s address of March 28, 2011, gives him unlimited options to militarily intervene wherever and whenever he wants, for whatever reason he wants to give…if any. But the most beautiful thing about the O Doc? It’s not limited to foreign intervention!

      3. There is no reason to be attacking Libya with hardware and mat?rial by the US. Europe should be the point-man on this. The US has clearly been historically opposed to Qaddafi so other nations need to do some heavy lifting. Offering support through intel or logistics is ok by me.

        1. The EU should insert Gurkhas with knives in their teeth into the Tripoli compound.

          Film (and popcorn) at 11.

        2. Europe IS the point-man on this. We’re just lending out a Tomahawk here and a F-15 there.

          1. Like with Kosovo, the Europeans show how full of it they are. IT’S IN THEIR OWN BACK YARD. Why don’t they alone deal with it?

            Their like a bunch of babies who want to be treated like adults until things get hard – at which point they turn to the big, responsible big kid. In this case good ole USA.

            Doing it this way they can always say, “It wasn’t me!”

            1. Responsible? The US?

            2. Cause they spend all their money on social spending. Why buy guns when they can just get us to use ours?

          2. More like a hundred here a hundred there. We fired off an actual order of magnitude more than the Brits.

          3. They gonna’ return those Tomahawks when they’re done?

        3. “There is no reason to be attacking Libya with hardware and mat?rial [materiel] by the US”

          FTFY

        4. How Mongo know? Mongo only pawn in life’s game.

      4. “We knew that…if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Anchorage, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world,” the president said last night. “It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen….Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

        1. Darfur calling on line 2, Mr. President.

        2. North Korea is on line 3, as well.

        3. China on line 4, sir.

        4. When will the US be liberated?

    2. Attacking someone who is about to attack you is called self-defense. Preemptive war is when you attack someone before they have the capability of attacking you.

      Technically this isn’t preemptive war; it’s even more specious because Gadaqfi was not in the process of becoming more of a threat.

      1. Indeed, because of the hated Bush’s preemptive war aginst Hussein, Qadaffi voluntarily gave up his WMD production. So, there was even less chance that he could be a danger to us.

        1. In which case Obama has demonstrated that giving up your nukes actually makes it more likely we will attack you since the cost of the attack has been lowered.

          1. Penny for the smart man!

      2. So this is more like preemptive defense? I need to kick your ass now, because you may decide to commit violence against me in the future?

        1. preemptive suicide.

          1. New defense for murder: Assisted preemptive suicide.

        2. You can’t drill for oil because you might spill some in the future.

          Feel free to substitute any regulation.

        3. Looks like you’ve got it.

    3. He’s pre-empting before they attack *their own people.*

      1. Right. That ain’t “about to happen” anywhere else in the world.

      2. Okay, but that’s not how we’ve generally used the phrase pre-emptive war.

        I think another term is needed.

        And in any case, Qaddafi had already attacked his people; we intervened to prevent the coup de grace.

    4. Its a much expanded definition of “preemptive” war. Formerly, it was used for a “spoiling attack” on an enemy gearing up for an offensive against you and yours.

      Now, its preemption of, err, well, stuff we don’t like, I guess.

      1. For example, if it very likely that a land of heathen savages will be unresponsive to a politely worded request to voluntarily relinquish all of their territory and resources to us, an assault to acquire their territory and resources would be preemptive in nature.

  2. Spin, baby, spin! War is A-OK when our guy’s in charge!

    1. Re: Episiarch,

      Spin, baby, spin! War is A-OK when our guy’s in charge!

      +1e1000

      In a nutshell.

    2. < stamping foot petulantly >
      It’s NOT a WAR!!

      It’s a kinetic military action!!

      You guys just won’t LISTEN!! I’m going home!

    3. Rolling Stone says our troops are killers…preposterous!

  3. I wouldn’t call it “pre-emptive war”.

    It’s more like “butting in to someone else’s civil war”. Like Vietnam.

    1. Not the V word!

    2. Winners, like North Vietnam?

      1. Shut up! We didn’t lose Vietnam! It was a tie!

        1. I’m tellin’ ya baby, they kicked your little ass there. Boy, they whooped yer hide REAL GOOD.

          1. Oh no they… SHUT UP! Goodbye ProL.

            1. It’s J-J-JW, c-c-coming to k-k-kill me!

          2. ‘Nam and the Soviets experience in Afghanistan proves war really is ‘politics by other means.’ No matter how well the body-count favors your side, you can still lose.

            1. The trick answer to Vietnam is that the U.S. beat the Soviet Union but lost to the North Vietnamese.

            2. You just need to stop caring about ‘winning hearts and minds’ and only fight wars where the goal is just to kill everyone on the other side. That’s achievable.

          3. “A Fish Called Wanda”!

    3. At least Vietnam had the (somewhat confabulated) connection to the existential threat of Soviet imperialism. Obama would never agree that this is connected to any existential threat, because there aren’t any. Right?

      1. And the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. I mean, democracy is about taking a vote first, right Democrats!?

        1. I mean, democracy is about taking a vote first, right Democrats!?

          No, no, all those “This is What Democracy Looks Like” signs in Wisconsin mean that democracy is about preventing votes.

          So, the President going ahead without Congress voting first was the democratic process in action!

        2. We didn’t have time to stage a naval incident.

      2. Vietnam was confabulated because JFK needed to prove that he wasn’t just some lecherous prettyboy who was in way over his head. Especially after having been taken to the woodshed by Krushchev over Cuba, the Berlin Wall, and Vienna.

    4. Well, we had treaty arrangements with South Vietnam at the time as part of SEATO.

      So it’s not remotely comparable to Vietnam.

      It’s all ad hoc policy making; which is why everyone is having trouble putting a name on it or describing it.

    5. Vietnam was a proxy war. Is Libya? Doesn’t look like it.

      1. Is Libya a proxy war?

        Well, the US is backing al-Qa’ida (possibly) in Libya.
        al-Qa’ida is fighting the US in Afghaniland and iRaq.
        Therefore, Libya is the United States’ proxy war against the United States?

        1. i like that aQ is fighting FOR us in libya. seems like we’ve half-way won

  4. I always assumed Obama to be anti-Iraq War and anti-Escalation of the Afghanistan War.

    1. Wars are like children. At first you don’t really want to have any, but once they’re forced on you you learn to love them.

      1. Yes, and we REALLY learn to love them.

      2. +1 or 2

        (“One child is not enough; two is too many.” “You’re not really a parent until you have at least two children.”)

      3. But you still feel like you would love one of your own more.

    2. He talked about escalating in Afghanistan all throughout the campaign.

      1. that was supposed to be the “good war”

      2. I thought that was all “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” Good grief…He’s a politician – I thought your suppose to know that politicians ALWAYS do the opposite. Your saying I’m suppose to believe them occasionally??????

      3. Obama also said this (inaugural address):
        “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. (Applause.)”

        So much for that.

        1. His speeches always sound like they were written by some idiot college student who thinks using a few $10 words and cheap cliches will disguise the utter lack of substance or maturity of the ideas presented.

    3. He has been, and always shall be, anti-Bush.

      1. How would you know about Michelle’s grooming habits?

        1. Next we will be bombing labia…

          1. Carpet bombing?

            1. Obama lied, Bush died

        2. I support a tasty neatly trimmed bush.

      2. You SO ripped off Mr. Spock!

        1. I resent the implication that I always speak in scifi references.

    4. Anti-Iraq war, yes; anti-Afghan, no way.

      Read his comments during the campaign about Afghanistan. Very very pro-war.

      See, for example, his address to the Woodrow Wilson Center in 2009. Very hawkish on Afghanistan.

  5. Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough told the Associated Press in an article published yesterday: “[W]e don’t get very hung up on this question of precedent because we don’t make decisions about questions like intervention based on consistency or precedent. We base them on how we can best advance our interests in the region.”

    Even leaving aside the moral monstrosity that this statement represents, there’s also the practical problem of what it does to our credibility with potential allies. Having now entered military conflict with one ally in Libya after siding against three allied governments in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, the US is not looking like a trustworthy partner to make a deal with if you’re a non-NATO, non-nuclear nation.

    1. we don’t make decisions about questions like intervention based on consistency or precedent. We base them on how we can best advance our interests in the region

      How can you (a) advance our interests without (b) any reference to consistency or precedent? Aren’t our interests fairly stable? Aren’t they served with a consistent policy?

    2. McDonough should’ve consulted with Jay Carney who said last week, “It is well within, as we’ve described and others have described, well within the President’s constitutional authority to take this military action. The precedent — the list of precedents is quite long.”

    3. Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough told the Associated Press in an article published yesterday: “[W]e don’t get very hung up on this question of precedent because we don’t make decisions about questions like intervention based on consistency or precedent. We base them on how we can best advance our interests in the region.”

      Statements like this make me wish Matt Cooke had elbowed McDonough harder in the head.

    4. Yeah, I bet the Iranians are looking around and putting the pedal to the metal on their quest for a third-rate nuclear bomb. Because a third-rate nuclear bomb is still a first-rate deterrence. Nukes do make the other side restrain themselves…too bad we’re the aggressor in that slowly unfolding international experiment.

      1. 3d rate?

  6. of course military ops are but one tool. diplomatic, financial, electronic counter-warfare, intel, sanctions & embargos are further tools being employed against other tyrants in the region & elsewhere like north korea & burma.

    1. I’m curious to know what financial tools are being employed against North Korea.

      In fact, none of the tools you list make any sense against self-isolated territories like NK or Burma.

      1. I’m curious to know what financial tools are being employed against North Korea.

        I suggest Timmay! and creepy Uncle Ben. Together, they are clearly a weapon of mass destruction.

      2. so u dont want intel on n korea?

        1. Intel is useless without some means of exploiting what you find out. I seriously doubt we have much on NK anyway, as it’s much easier for an isolated country to prevent espionage.

      3. Au contraire. Regimes like DPRK, Libya, Iran, are all about two things: Money and guns.

        The only real rankle and rise we ever got out of the DPRK in past ten years was seizing thirty or forty million dollars offshore in Banco Delta Asia. That relative pittance became of utmost focus for the North Koreans in all their international dealings until they got that money back. As a matter of fact, while that went on the North Koreans made enough deals to where they tore down their cooling tower on their reactor, killed no South Koreans, lit off no half-ass nukes, and didn’t fire any of their half-ass missiles.

        Once they had that money back, it was back to business as usual for those chumps. You take Kim’s offshore allowance (what good is a billion dollars – or tons of gold – if you can only spend it in North Korea?) and he and his goonies freak the fuck out because that’s really how that regime works. Ditto for Iran and the Revolutionary Guards.

      4. I’m curious to know what financial tools are being employed against North Korea.
        Here
        http://www.state.gov/t/isn/inksna/index.htm
        and here:
        http://www.treasury.gov/resour…..korea.aspx

        but you’re right, a lot of the heavy lifting is done by the DPRK themselves

  7. a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world

    We made Klem Kadiddlyhopper oppress his own people? We were on the verge of forcing him to murder them?

  8. Except Obama never ran as an anti-war candidate. I believe he specifically said he was just against dumb wars.

    1. And since Obama thinks he is smart, his wars must be smart wars.

    2. I’m glad we are together on this one, Tony

    3. He also said this:
      “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. (Applause.)”

      Were you applauding at the time?

      1. He didn’t have the other hand free.

  9. And for those Democrats who are either cheering on or grimly supporting the president’s actions, just remember this: Unless a Ron Paul-type miraculously emerges from the GOP field, the next Republican president now has an even lower bar than before when it comes to launching a preemptive war.

    The last Republican preemptive war turned out pretty well for the Dems: control of the White House and both chambers of Congress with a supermajority in the Senate.

    1. I know. This is exactly what the Neo-Cons needed in the run up to 2012.

    2. The Democrats ran John Kerry in 2004, I believe after all the pre-emptive wars were started. And the Dems got their asses kicked.

      Bush – and the Republicans – passed into the sunset after 2005. You had Republican idiocy with Terry Schiavo, Katrina, and Harriet fucking Miers. Too much a dose of shit too fast. The Republican slide begins then. Well after Iraq.

      And the Dems? It took’em two years and no wars and their supermajority already isn’t. They’re even worse!

      1. Iraq didn’t start going really badly until 2005. But keep telling yourself the 2006-08 Dem routs were about Schiavo and Mark Foley. Those aren’t the sorts of things that send you from 56 seats in the Senate to 40 in two elections.

  10. As long as we’re in the pre-emption business, when will Sheila Bair “pre-emptively” shut down Bank of America?

  11. The medium-term issue is whether Washington has now irreversibly thumbed the scale on Arab Spring, making a complicated, sometimes thrilling and sometimes harrowing story of cross-border liberation into a conventional up-down question of America’s will and blatant inconsistency on human rights.

    Well said.

  12. We’re acting as the air force for the Rebels, destroying all obstacles in their path. It would be really tragic if, once they finally break into Tripoli they start massacring Qaddaffi loyalists.

    1. Unless, of course, one of the loyalists is Qaddaffi himself.

    2. It would be really tragic if, once they finally break into Tripoli they start massacring Qaddaffi loyalists.

      Also, quite foreseeable, given the tribal nature of society there.

      And you know what they say about foreseeable consequences.

      1. nope – completely unforseeable. Unpredictable. Unknowable. you would need a computer the size of the sun to run all the variables and see that coming. Our best and brightest are all on this – should such a circumstance as you propose arise, there can be but one serious wise response, “Hoocudenode?”

      2. I’ll bet the Blue Helmets are already calling dibs on sectors of Tripoli to exploit.

        “Ok, the Italians will run the child prostituion in the south. Estonia will have 12-15 year olds in the west…”

      3. Forseeable consequences are unintended.

    3. “We’re acting as the air force for the Rebels, destroying all obstacles in their path”

      Air force? You have to think about this preemptively. Eventually, the rebels who are attacking Qaddafi’s forces will run out of ammunition, at which point they turn back into innocent civilians who are incapable of protecting them selves. Rebels dying in defiance against an evil tyrant, good. Innocent civilians being killed, bad.

    4. There is absolutely no chance whatsoever that the nomads of the east are ever going to be able to take Tripoli, unless NATO is prepared to utterly devastate the city from the air, and I don’t believe we’re truly willing to go that far.

      The most likely outcome is a stalemate with a de facto partitioned country.

      1. I might be wrong about this, but I think the U.N. resolution said the U.N. wasn’t going to partition the country.

        1. Hence the “de facto”.

        2. Not formally; the world isn’t about to recognize the rebels as a new government. It will likely be an informal partition where Ghadafi has no real governing autonomy in the east.

          1. Consider the following map of Libyan O&G fields: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-koHa…..ds+map.gif (Clever posters, feel free to embed said .gif) From here: http://petroviews.blogspot.com…..s-map.html

            Looks like you could draw a line right down the middle of the country, just west of Sirte, and divide the fields neatly in half. Which is probably what will happen. The rebels can’t take Tripoli without our ground forces, and MG can’t get a column down the coast road to take Benghazi without it being smashed by NATO air –>stalemate. No reason not to renegotiate the eastern minerals’ concessions while we’re at it.

            1. Hmmm. Didn’t realize it embedded linked .gifs automatically.

      2. Which will make Obama look like a big pussy, which will lead to Marines landing on the shores of Tripoli.

  13. Except Obama never ran as an anti-war candidate.

    Don’t you get dizzy from the spinning?

    1. Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances.
      10/2/02 – Chicago

      1. In other words, anti-war where it’s convenient. The special pleading president.

  14. “I made it clear that ______________ had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead”

    1. Snidely Whiplash

      1. Curses!

        1. ___Barack Obama__

  15. [Maude shows the porn video starring Bunny to the Dude]
    Sherry in ‘Logjammin’: [on video] You must be here to fix the cable.
    Maude Lebowski: Lord. You can imagine where it goes from here.
    The Dude: He fixes the cable?
    Maude Lebowski: Don’t be fatuous, Jeffrey.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Big_Lebowski

  16. Obama’s Empty War Words:
    Never mind Reality –
    Just, Read my Libia

  17. Setting aside the rationale, what bothers me is how we are doing it. We waited until the rebels were on the verge of defeat, and now we’re doing just enough to keep the fighting going, but not enough to actually win. If we’re going to intervene, do it fast and hard and get it over with: destroy Qaddafi’s aircraft and tanks, kill him and anyone near him at the time, and get out.

  18. Its a much expanded definition of “preemptive” war.

    In the sense of “pre-empting” regularly scheduled programming to bring a special live telecast of the President, speaking from the White House?

    1. Hey, and speaking of the timing of that speech…
      Was it more than a little curious that they had it wrapped up exactly at 8:00 so that the non-interested public would just tune into “Dancing with the Stars” or something instead of having to hear some pundit actually question the words he was spewing? They missed the collective “WTF?” from nearly all sides. I know the networks are saying they didn’t want to interupt their primetime, but I’ll have to call bullshit on that one. You don’t interupt primetime for the President addressing the nation about engaging in a new military action?

      I think they’d rather have Obama’s voting public just believing every word that comes out of his teleprompter.

      1. Fox didn’t even carry it.

        1. They didn’t?!?!? You mean I missed the syndicated The Office rerun for nothin? Dammit.

  19. And for those Democrats who are either cheering on or grimly supporting the president’s actions, just remember this: Unless a Ron Paul-type miraculously emerges from the GOP field, the next Republican president now has an even lower bar than before when it comes to launching a preemptive war.

    I’ve never bought this argument. Nothing will stop Republicans from doing whatever they want and have the power to do.

    1. but not Team Blue – they are noble and always self-sacrificing. They are willing to do _everything_ for the good of others – how can we live w/o them?

      1. Don’t believe I in any way implied that. But you have to admit, Dems can be pussies.

        1. Yeah, they don’t want boots on the ground, but they have absolutely no qualms about throwing some million dollar missiles your way. After all, they didn’t buy them. And they’re not the ones being killed. “Pussies” is right.

    2. Thats right. This will never stop the Republicans from doing whatever they want and have the power to do.

      So the Democrats should do whatever they want and have the power to do.

      Go, go Team Blue!!! Rah, rah, rah!!

    3. You buy that argument every time you justify Obama’s actions by comparing them to Bush’s.

  20. I’d like to break away from insulting the president to spend a moment insulting Congress. Assert your prerogatives and make it clear that this “action” did require Congressional initiation.

    1. We believe that with great power comes great opportunity.

      Responsibility? That sounds like one of those things that could cause voters to blame you for things going to shit. No thanks.

  21. I’ve never bought this argument. Nothing will stop Republicans from doing whatever they want and have the power to do.

    While there’s something to be said for that, the inexorable expansion of the Imperial Presidency builds on what previous Presidents have done.

    This certainly makes it easier for future Presidents to bomb anyone, anywhere, anytime, to prevent stuff we don’t like.

    And going to Congress to specifically abjure that authority and request a DoW would have made it harder.

    Which is better? Making it easier, or harder, for future Presidents to bomb anyone, anywhere, etc.?

  22. Subject: Prayer Request
    All are Marines that gave their lives for YOU this week.
    Please Honor THEM by forwarding this. I just did. We are asking everyone to say a prayer for “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in,
    Obama’s Afghanistan War & We have lost 12 marines in 4 days. They were all in their twenties!
    Nothing in the media about these guys because no one seems to care:
    But we do, so we will pass the message via email…….

    Justin Allen, 23,
    Brett Linley, 29,
    Matthew Weikert, 29,
    Justus Bartett, 27,
    Dave Santos, 21,
    Chase Stanley, 21
    Jesse Reed, 26,
    Matthew Johnson, 21,
    Zachary Fisher, 24,
    Brandon King, 23,
    Christopher Goeke, 23,
    Sheldon Tate, 27,

    All are Marines that gave their lives for YOU this week.-we will miss you, sorry for these useless Obama wars

    1. at the risk of really pissing off some people…none of them died for me.

      1. It doesn’t piss me off, but you are wrong. They actually were killing for you, and in the course of that, they were killed. You can’t have one without the other. So, you need to be careful why you send young men and women out to kill for you, because they also die.

        1. So if I start tossing kids into a meat grinder and say they were killed for you then we’re all in agreement that, indeed, they were? Or is it a matter of perspective?

          1. As long as you share your delicious meat smoothies I will agree to that.

    2. Are you kidding us? Just the other day I googled to see how many U.S. military personnel had been killed recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. I saw no coverage of any deaths and concluded March was a very good month.
      Say a prayer for all those about to be killed when the Taliban launches their spring offensive.

      1. One of the few positive side effects about Bush being in office was that the media would assiduously report on American troop deaths. It was primarily to make him look bad of course, but at least they were getting the recognition they deserved.

        Now with Obama in office, his media butt-boys can no longer be bothered with minor inconveniences like reporting on who has been killed lately. The professional left are vile, shameless, lowlife scum.

        1. take a rolaid mr persecution complex jeesch

      2. There’s no need to report on that sort of unpleasantness anymore.

        The right people are in charge.

    3. All are Marines that gave their lives for YOU this week.
      Please Honor THEM by forwarding this. I just did. We are asking everyone to say a prayer for “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families.

      Two are Marines; nine are Soldiers. None of them were in 3rd Battalion 5th Marines. All died in Afghanistan in July 2010.

      Justin Allen, 23, SGT, US Army, 1st Bn 75th Ranger Regiment; KIA 18 Jul 2010; Zhari
      Brett Linley ? No DOD casualty announcement of anyone by that name
      Matthew Weikert, 29, SSG; US Army, 1st Bn 187th Infantry; KIA 17 Jul 2010; FOB Orgun-E
      Justus Bartelt, 27, SSgt, USMC, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines; KIA 16 Jul 2010; Helmand province
      Dave Santos, 21, Cpl, USMC, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines; KIA 16 Jul 2010; Helmand province
      Chase Stanley, 21, SGT, US Army, 27th Engineer Bn (Airborne); KIA 14 Jul 2010; FOB Lagman
      Jesse Reed, 26, SPC, US Army, 27th Engineer Bn (Airborne); KIA 14 Jul 2010; FOB Lagman
      Matthew Johnson, 21, SPC, US Army, 27th Engineer Bn (Airborne); KIA 14 Jul 2010; FOB Lagman
      Zachary Fisher, 24, SGT, US Army, 27th Engineer Bn (Airborne); KIA 14 Jul 2010; FOB Lagman
      Brandon King, 23, PFC, US Army, 1-320th Field Artillery; KIA 14 July 2010; CO Nolen
      Christopher Goeke, 23, 1LT, US Army, 1-508th PIR; KIA 13 Jul 2010; Kandahar City
      Sheldon Tate, 27, SSG, US Army, 782nd BSB; KIA 13 Jul 2010; Kandahar City

    4. “sorry for these useless Obama wars”

      Didn’t Bush start them?

  23. “And have they thought through even for one moment the kind of bar-lowering precedent Obama just set for the next Republican president to send ground troops into wherever the hell?” You’re joking, right???

  24. I rise only to condemn Matt’s use of “preemptive war” as a pejorative. I’ve never understood how anyone who understands 1) the nature of physical reality and 2) the concept of rational self-interest could ever make a blanket refusal to consider “preemptive war” or “preemptive strikes.”

    In the state of nature (which nations are very much in), you’d be quickly removed from the gene pool if you didn’t take preemptive action against someone who means you harm. Indeed, we are evolved to recognize when these situations arise, and to have the courage and resourcefulness to resolve them in our favor.

    If you think that, even outside the state of nature, I’m going to simply stand there after you’ve 1) said “I’m going to rape your wife and then kill both of you” and then 2) fumbled with your holster trying to get your revolver out, you’ve misjudged your man. In fact, you’re going to get “preempted” – with extreme prejudice.

    1. Attacking a country that is imminently about to attack us is not “preemptive war”, it’s ordinary self-defense. Iraq was not in any way shape or form, prepping for an attack on the US in 2002.

      Preemptive war is when you attack someone who you think is likely to attack you at some unknown time in the future. That’s like attacking the guy down the street who doesn’t like you and who you’ve seen unloading shotguns from his car.

      1. Or, rather, in the case of Iraq, it’s like attacking the guy down the street who doesn’t like you and the neighbor’s kid claims to have seen him unloading shotguns from his car, only after you kill him, you search his house and can’t find any shotguns.

        1. You did leave out the part where the guy down the street killed 2 of his 7 children a few years ago and got off with a $50 fine.

          1. He’s also shooting at your kids as they drive past on their bikes, is harboring a serial murder–ten of whose victims are friends, neighbors, or acquaintances of yours–and offers cash to anyone that will blow up a member of your family or a member of that Jewish family you play bridge with on Fridays.

    2. The doctrine of “preemptive war”, as it has been applied in the case of Libya would be like me kicking in your door and hitting you with a bat because I suspect you(Libya) might beat your wife(protesters/rebels) at some unforeseen point in the future.

      Now, if you draw your hand back as if to strike me and I hit you first, that’s self-defense because, based on your actions, I had a reasonable fear that I was about to suffer harm to my person. Fighting words, in and of themselves, are not a justification of defense or retaliatory battery.

  25. Every time I read one of Matt Welch’s articles, especially the ones I agree with…I am left with the haunting sense that Nick Gillespie would’ve written it better.

  26. Not committing ground troops is superior to committing ground troops.

    Having an international body to hand this off to when we’re done is superior to not having an international body to hand this over to when we’re done.

    In terms of how responsible we are for Libya’s political, economic and ethnic problems after we’re done–not declaring war is superior to declaring war.

    Libya isn’t anywhere near as dumb as Iraq was–thank God. Having a congressional authorization for Iraq didn’t make Iraq better than Libya–it made it easier to commit troops on the ground. Not having an international body to hand Iraq off to didn’t make Iraq better than Libya–it made the occupation worse. Having committed American ground troops to an occupation didn’t make Iraq better than Libya…

    They all made Iraq worse. Let’s stop pretending that there are some checks in Congress somewhere that would prevent the President from doing what he’s doing if only he followed procedure. The president has the support of congress–making that support official would make all the things we don’t want to see happen? More likely to happen.

    I don’t think there’s any new precedent being set here at all either. …other than a return to the Powell Doctrine, which is a good thing.

    If you want to compare Libya to Iraq (for some reason), then that’s the comparison to make–if we’d stuck to doing what Obama is doing in Libya, we wouldn’t have spent $700 billion and suffered 36,395 American casualties in Iraq.

    That’s a bid difference–and the difference isn’t about who’s a Republican and who’s a Democrat.

    1. “I don’t think there’s any new precedent being set here at all either. …other than a return to the Powell Doctrine, which is a good thing”

      I think that having us support an action because otherwise we’d undermine multilateralism or the “international community” sets a new precedent.

      Seems to me that it’s obvious that France and others led us into this and Obama is following along.

      If they had been against it or uncommitted, Obama would have followed that approach too.

      The problem with multilateralism is that sometimes you have to tag along when you don’t want to or need to. You can’t always be making demands of others in your alliance and not sacrifices.

      1. “I think that having us support an action because otherwise we’d undermine multilateralism or the “international community” sets a new precedent.”

        Um…no.

        I think you’re doing a little spinning there–I don’t believe the reason Obama participated in this is solely because he didn’t want to undermine multilateralism. Gaining the support of the international community is actually Powell Doctrine 101.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powell_Doctrine

        See questions 5 and 8.

        Going in without an exit strategy or an international body to hand things over to once we’re out is foolish–that’s two of the reasons why George W. Bush was an incompetent president.

        The only times we’ve really strayed far from the Powell Doctrine–going back to the Reagan Administration and before–has been the times we’ve made our biggest mistakes.

        What Obama’s doing is in line with what Reagan, Bush the Greater and Bill Clinton all did.

        The only odd man out is Bush the Lesser, who ripped up the Powell Doctrine and flushed it–to our detriment.

        There’s nothing new about what Obama is doing. Just because it marks a return to what we were doing before the Bush the Lesser Administration–going back to the Vietnam War–doesn’t make it new.

        And if Iraq taught us anything, it’s that foolhardy actions like the one we undertook in Iraq aren’t made any smarter for having the full, unmitigated support of the U.S. Congress.

        1. “I don’t believe that “Obama participated in this is solely because he didn’t want to undermine multilateralism.”

          You think he would have gone in if France and Britain opposed it?

          Second, this is completely at odds with what Reagan and Clinton did (true Bush Sr. assembled a coalition and got UN approval). Clinton bombed Serbia without UN approval (Russia and China would have vetoed it) and with little Nato support.

          As to Reagan, this closest analogy would be the Lebanon intervention.

          Not a good example to cite.

          1. “You think he would have gone in if France and Britain opposed it?”

            Wow, you really like to move goalposts around, don’t you?

            Again, international support is Powell Doctrine 101.

            Having the benefit of international support doesn’t mean we bombed Libya just to support the UK and France–and you know that.

            As for the rest of what you wrote, we’ve stuck to the Powell Doctrine everywhere we’ve went–more or less–with the exception of the Bush the Lesser Administration.

            I didn’t say we stuck to it religiously–we looked for international support when we could, and we didn’t send troops in without an exit strategy.

            That’s what we did in Panama. That’s what we did in Yugoslavia. That’s why we avoided Rwanda. That’s what we did in Somalia. That’s what we’ve been doing since the Carter Administration–that’s partially how we won the Cold War.

            There is nothing new about the Powell Doctrine–at all!

            1. You can’t seem to keep up with the facts on this.

              For more than two weeks Obama was passive and made little effort to stop Qaddafi’s actions.

              It was only after the French and the British – especially Sarkozy – stepped up and demanded action that Obama also decided to act.

              As to the Powell Doctrine: again your facts are wrong. Nowhere did Reagan asssemble a coalition to attack Grenada or Libya or to support the Contras. He did that unilaterally.

              Nohwere did Bush Sr. assemble a coalition to go into Panama. Or Somalia. He did that unilaterally.

              Similarly, nowhere did Clinton follow the Powell Doctrine when he intervened in the Balkans.

              You’re fitting the Powell Doctrine into situations where the facts simply don’t apply.

              1. “It was only after the French and the British – especially Sarkozy – stepped up and demanded action that Obama also decided to act.”

                I didn’t say Obama didn’t take their support into consideration, and I didn’t say he invulnerable to reason or persuasion…as you seem to want him to be?

                If you’re suggesting that Obama is doing what he’s doing in Libya for the sole purpose of supporting what the UK and France want to do, then you’re being silly.

                “Nowhere did Reagan asssemble a coalition to attack Grenada or Libya or to support the Contras. He did that unilaterally.

                Nohwere did Bush Sr. assemble a coalition to go into Panama. Or Somalia. He did that unilaterally.

                Similarly, nowhere did Clinton follow the Powell Doctrine when he intervened in the Balkans.

                You’re fitting the Powell Doctrine into situations where the facts simply don’t apply.”

                Some of your facts are off there, starting with this one…

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNOSOM_II

                Regardless, we ran the cost/benefit analysis on each of those engagements, and I don’t think we went into any of those engagements without an exit strategy. Off the top of my head, all of those actions had exit strategies attached. We went in. We did what we wanted to do. We got the hell out.

                If you don’t see the difference between that and what Bush the Lesser did in Iraq, then I don’t know what to say! Bush went into Iraq without UN support–the only exit strategy he had was making the United States responsible for all of the ethnic, economic and political problems of the Iraqi people–and making freedom and Democracy grow in the desert!

                What Obama is doing in Libya isn’t anything like that at all.

                Like I said, I’m not saying we followed the Powell Doctrine religiously–I am saying that it has been the dominant thinking behind our engagements going back to the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

                There’s nothing new about what Obama is doing. Nothing. This is a return to what we were doing before Bush and his stupid diversion.

            2. The first principle or standard of the Powell Doctrine is that it must involve a vital – emphasis vital – national interest.

              Do you think this is a vital national interest?

              If you think it is a vital national interest do you think the President’s declaration that no ground troops will be used is a defensible one?

              If this is a vital – vital – national interest, to state upfront that no ground troops will be used seems to me to undermine the argument that the interest is vital.

              Moreover, the Powell Doctrine also requires a clear goal and a clear exit strategy.

              If you can find either of those, please enlighten us as to where they can be located.

              1. I think it is a national interest.

                I think being on the side of the ummah against the vicious dictators of the Muslim world is crucial to winning the War on Terror, and may become increasingly more important as Iran continues to pursue its nuclear weapons program. We were on the side of the dictators against the ummah for too long.

                I don’t want to be responsible for the ethnic, economic and political problems of the Libyan people, and so I oppose the United States declaring war on Libya or seeing the United States send ground troops.

                If Obama did either of those things, seek an authorization from Congress or try to commit ground troops, I’d be against what he’s doing in a second–but I don’t see much danger of either of those things happening.

                In the meantime, I think what we’re doing was what the ummah was hoping we’d do. It costs us infinitely less than Iraq (about $700 billion less), our troops are almost no danger whatsoever–and I think we’re undoing some of the damage we did to our cause by Bush’s blundering in Iraq.

                No commitment of U.S. troops? No responsibility for the aftermath? A clear exit strategy? …and, yes, I see a vital security interest there.

                Check. Check. Check. Check.

                1. No commitment of U.S. troops? No responsibility for the aftermath? A clear exit strategy? …and, yes, I see a vital security interest there.

                  I’ll remind you that you said that when Ghaddafi’s agents bomb another airliner.

                  1. I don’t want to be responsible for the ethnic, economic and political problems of the Libyan people, and so I oppose the United States declaring war on Libya or seeing the United States send ground troops.

                    This is the most obtuse fucking argument I think I’ve ever seen. By getting involved, we made ourselves responsible. We now have a clear interest in an arena where one did not previously exist. And we let France drag us along because they don’t have the capacity to fight for their own oil supplies (not to mention a rather nasty, seditious Muslim element in their own country that hates the French with every fiber of their being).

                    If we didn’t “want to be responsible,” we shouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place. Now we have no choice but to take the lead on Libya’s future. You really think the UN is going to be able to create something stable out of all this?

                    1. So, how come we’re still in Germany and Japan–not just after WW II is over but after the Cold War’s been over for so long too?

                      I would argue it’s because we declared war and committed ground troops. I think that’s why we’re in Iraq too, and why we’ll be there for a long time.

                      So, why aren’t we responsible for Somalia? Why aren’t we responsible for Belgrade?

                      Again, I don’t make the rules, I just point out how they work. We still have troops in just about every country we’ve declared war on and committed ground troops–going back through the Spanish-American war at least!

                      It isn’t a hard and fast rule, but I think it’s generally true. If we declare war and commit ground troops? We end up being responsible for that country’s problems…

                      If we don’t declare war and don’t commit ground troops? Not so much.

                      I mean, seriously? Are you arguing that declaring war on a country and occupying it with ground troops–doesn’t increase our responsibility for what happens there afterward?!

                      …’cause I think the historical record contradicts that.

                    2. If we don’t declare war and don’t commit ground troops? Not so much.

                      You mean like Kosovo? We didn’t exactly shut down Camp Bondsteel, you know.

                      I mean, seriously? Are you arguing that declaring war on a country and occupying it with ground troops–doesn’t increase our responsibility for what happens there afterward?!

                      Actually, I’m not, you disingenuous twit–but thank you for trying to set up a strawman. I’m arguing that we had no justifiable reason to get involved in the first place. The entire premise has been “we can’t allow these massacres to continue.” Well, massacres happen all over the fucking planet all the time. What makes Libya so special now, in this time, that the ruling regime gets targeted for international military strikes, that can’t be equivocated about other dictators elsewhere? Is it just the “potential” scale? Or is it because Ghadaffi is rather isolated and makes an easy target? Because I sure don’t see Obama and the rest of the “international community” hot and bothered to change the situation in North Korea. Wouldn’t want the Chinese to cash in all those T-bills, after all.

                      And I’m also arguing that you and the rest of this little adventure’s apologists have no idea what the end game of this is supposed to be. You seem to believe that the coalition will be able to wave its fairy wands and everything will work out fine. You seem to have no real understanding of the historical context between Ghadaffi taking the reins of power and Obama deciding that getting involved in this civil war was just what the United States needed. And that lack of understanding is damn dangerous when dealing with a dictator that had voluntarily taken a more passive posture against the US for the last few years, after decades of being openly and unapologetically hostile.

                      You better pray to any gods you have that Ghadaffi doesn’t fire up his terrorist network again–because if planes start falling out of the sky, it’s going to render whatever vague “protection” our military is offering the rebels completely pointless.

                    3. I’m arguing that we had no justifiable reason to get involved in the first place. The entire premise has been “we can’t allow these massacres to continue.” Well, massacres happen all over the fucking planet all the time. What makes Libya so special now, in this time, that the ruling regime gets targeted for international military strikes, that can’t be equivocated about other dictators elsewhere?

                      And I’m also arguing that you and the rest of this little adventure’s apologists have no idea what the end game of this is supposed to be.

                      You better pray to any gods you have that Ghadaffi doesn’t fire up his terrorist network again

                      Not that anyone’s reading this anymore, but I completely agree with the above. Sums up my position on the whole thing rather neatly.

                      Bombing airplanes, in fact, are the thing I’m worried least about. Having a state actor decide to replicate Muhammad/Malvo, only this time with a plan and military ordnance, is much higher on my worst-case list.

                  2. Well if Quadaffi stays in power, he’s much more likely to use his agents to commit terror acts just for payback.

      2. I know I’m late here, but FUCK the Powell Doctrine. We’re stuck in Afghanistan because of his godddam Pottery Barn metaphor. I advocate a return to the SPQR doctrine. If we feel threatened, let’s kill a bunch of barbarians, destroy their cities, burn their crops, salt their fields, and GTFO. Fuck killing a bunch of people and then trying to rebuild a country with their cousins. That just seems dumb.

        1. “I know I’m late here, but FUCK the Powell Doctrine. We’re stuck in Afghanistan because of his godddam Pottery Barn metaphor.”

          Uh, no, we’re not in Afghanistan because of the Powell Doctrine or the Pottery Barn Rule.

          We’re in Afghanistan because the prevailing government in Afghanistan at the time colluded with and supported a vicious terrorist organization that murdered 2,752 American civilians–and the world wasn’t big enough for both us and Al Qaeda.

          One of my criticisms of the Iraq War was that it diverted resources that should have been used in fighting our enemies in Afghanistan. I opposed the Iraq War and certainly the occupation of Iraq–but I’m still not opposed to the War in Afghanistan. That’s a war of self-defense as far as I’m concerned.

          So, no, we’re not in Afghanistan because of the Pottery Barn Rule–we’re in Iraq because we ignored the Pottery Barn Rule. We’re in Iraq because we ignored the Powell Doctrine.

          Go look at it again. The list of questions there isn’t something that makes it easier for us to invade other countries and commit ground troops–it’s a list of questions that makes it harder to commit foreign troops and go to war.

          The Powell Doctrine is why we’re not in Somalia. The Powell Doctrine is why we don’t have ground troops in Libya.

          You’ve got it all backwards.

          The Pottery Barn Rule isn’t something we choose to believe in any more than Supply and Demand are something we choose to believe in. When you occupy a country, you end up being responsible for it–sometimes forever…

          It’s why we’re still in Korea. It’s why we’re still in Japan and Germany after 65 years! It’s why we’ll be in Iraq for a generation–at least. It’s why the French feel it necessary to reinvade the Ivory Coast periodically…

          The Pottery Barn Rule isn’t something we decide to believe in–it’s the natural consequences of certain actions. If you don’t want those consequences–then you shouldn’t have occupied Iraq without an exit strategy or UN support.

          Saying “Fuck the Powell Doctrine” and “Fuck the Pottery Barn Rule” is like saying “Fuck the laws of physics!”

          If you don’t want stupid consequences, don’t do stupid things–you don’t get to unilaterally decide that there won’t be any consequences. That’s stupid.

          1. If you don’t want stupid consequences, don’t do stupid things

            Said the guy who supported this little military adventure.

    2. Ken Shultz|3.29.11 @ 1:14PM|#
      “Not committing ground troops is superior to committing ground troops.”

      And not bombing people is superior to bombing them.

      1. Sometimes.

        Not always.

    3. We had an international body behind us in the Afghanistan invasion too. How’s that working out? You seem to have forgotten that NATO’s muscle and funding comes almost entirely from the US. Crowing about how we’ll just “pass off to NATO” makes the Social Security Trust Fund scam look honest.

      And spare me the lecture about how if Bush had done what Obama is doing now for 8 years, then Iraq wouldn’t have been as bad. The Kinetic Action has only been going on for a week…at that point the Iraq war was looking like a piece of cake too.

      1. “We had an international body behind us in the Afghanistan invasion too. How’s that working out?”

        Afghanistan was and remains a war of self-defense as far as I’m concerned. We don’t need an international agreement to defend ourselves. That we spent so much on Iraq while our enemy in Afghanistan still wasn’t under control…

        That was bad strategy and bad policy. International agreements don’t make bad strategy and bad policy smart–just like having a congressional authorization doesn’t make stupid decisions smart either.

        There’s no substitute for smart.

        “Crowing about how we’ll just “pass off to NATO” makes the Social Security Trust Fund scam look honest.”

        Well that depends on how badly our NATO allies want to keep going, doesn’t it? I think it was a mistake not letting the French (rather than NATO) take the lead, but it is what it is.

        Also? It isn’t just a NATO operation. This is a UN authorized action as well, and that makes them responsible for what happens in Libya too.

        The UN is responsible for Libya. NATO is responsible for enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya. …and the United States is only responsible to the extent we choose to be–since Congress hasn’t authorized anything.

        …and since we haven’t committed ground troops.

        As far as the UN’s concerned? We’re no more responsible for this than Russia and China. As far as NATO is concerned? We’re likewise no more responsible than we want to be.

        1. “…and since we haven’t committed ground troops.”

          So…………
          What?

  27. From 2005:

    Military preemption — the “Bush Doctrine” — is nothing but global gun control. The Commander in Chief has turned the U.S. military into Handgun Control, Int. and intends to use it to disarm every rogue nation out there: first, Afghanistan; now, Iraq; next, Iran, North Korea, and God knows where else. And what about all the terrorist cells that don’t provide us with an identifiable “Japan” to target? How will any of this prevent a monster from walking across our border and unstopping a jar of anthrax in a major city? How can we pretend that the military can disarm every rogue in the world any more than the police can disarm every rogue in the country?

    1. Re: Barry Loberfeld,

      Military preemption — the “Bush Doctrine” — is nothing but global gun control.

      That’s an interesting argument, because it is not only nuclear arms or the so-called “weapons of mass destruction” the ones being targeted, the US and her allies are disarming people either by theft or by death.

      And we’re next in the menu. We are steak!(*)

      (*)From Magadascar

  28. Believing Democrats are anti-war is about as ignorant as believing Republicans are fiscally responsible.

  29. Anyone who was expecting the “anti-war” presidential candidate Barack Obama to be anything like an anti-war president was simply not paying sufficient attention to how he campaigned.

    Shit, nobody was paying sufficient or even token attention to what he was saying or promising. People simply voted either against McCain or for a black man. That’s it.

    1. Wrong. They voted against Bush.

    2. Some people also voted for an end to Iraq and the closing of Gitmo. Oops.

      I get such joy from schadenfreude.

    3. i know women who voted against what they felt was a token palin used to (not)grab the hillary vote.

    4. Some liberals out there truly did dupe themselves into believing that Obama was “anti-war”. They thought that all the stuff about Afghanistan was merely a general election campaign lie.

  30. You know what would have been smart? Letting the French go at it alone.

    Nobody likes them, they suck at war (see WW1, WW2, Vietnam), and they’re a general annoyance at UN and NATO conferences.

    We pit them against Libya, broadcast the whole thing on TV from our high-tech satellites (maybe throw Libya a bone every one in a while, if France actually start winning).

    Merchandising, gambling, t-shirts… This could make us BILLIONS! Maybe even a Sarkozy v Gaddafi deathmatch in the octogon?!

    And in the end? Less French people. Win win if you ask me.

    1. The people grow bored of this pitiful fight. Release the lions.

  31. To make myself unpopular here, I liked the speech, and think the risk is worth it.

    A popular uprising against a totalitarian regime, support for intervention on the ground, and keeping American boots off of “muslim land” and thus avoiding the bugaboo of “occupation” – about the best case scenario for intervention for regime change.

    Shouldn’t we be in favor of the overthrow of totalitarian regimes? Why shouldn’t we help?

    The world trades with these bastards, giving them the means to rule, but people balk at helping their enslaved populations fight for their own freedom.

    We use air cover to prevent the regime from turning the machinery of war, made possible by the international community, against the uprising, but otherwise let the locals fight it out on the ground. Sounds about right to me.

    To paraphrase Michelle – this is the first time I’ve been proud of this president.

    1. Either American boots are going to get on the ground to finish Qagadi off, or we’re going to be investing in enforcing a no-fly zone for decades to come. The rebels aren’t going to win without help from us on the ground, and no way Obama (or probably any future prez) is going to let Qigdiqi gain control of the east again.

      1. It’s like people believe these conflicts can be won with college lectures. None of the apologists (particularly Schultz) seems to have any clue as to what the end game should be–and in fairness, they are reflecting the idiot in the Oval Office.

  32. I know we will find WMDs if we look hard enough.

  33. that President Obama would not be anti-war

  34. Still think all the WMDs are stored away in Syria. That place unravels perhaps we will then find them and many Dems and MSN will be eating warm leftover crow. Now that would be syrious…would BO go in there after the WMDs fron Iraq..how ironic can you get???

    1. The term “WMD”s is too generic to be useful, as it includes such a wide array of items. A bacteriological or chemical weapons development program in the Middle East isn’t of much concern to the US, but a nuclear program is. Recall that nukes are technological old hat. What took scientific genius and tremendous industrial strength to develop seventy years ago is now possible for anyone with the desire, the money, and the time. Saddam certainly had the money; a “sanctions” policy would have given him the time; the only possible doubt is his desire. But despite the best efforts of the Democrats and the American press, it’s not much of a doubt. We knew about his fascination with weapons effective against groups of people, as witness his use of mustard gas against Kurds and (almost certainly) Iranians. And we knew he was interested in a nuclear program, at least interested enough to start accumulating materials, such as the 500 tons of yellowcake ore found in Iraq (now safely stored in Canada). Given Saddam H.’s demonstrated homicidal tendencies, it would have been negligent for the US to allow him to proceed with his plans.

      In Libya, K. (or is it Q.?) isn’t a slacker in the homicidal department, but he seems to have genuinely abandoned his nuke program long ago. So the most important parallel between an attack on Libya and an attack on Iraq, one definitely tying it to American interests and safety rather than a rather nebulous concept of the “world’s conscience”, simply isn’t there. Which means that it’s really a mystery what the Obama Doctrine means. The US should bomb someone before the President sees bad news on TV? That seems so, well, trivial.

  35. Mr. Welch, Justice Stewart’s comment was on obscenity.

  36. The comparisons between Obama and Jimmy Carter have been noted before…jokingly at first, and now, increasingly as a best-case scenario.

    But for all of Jimmy Carter’s humiliating incompetence and impotence while in office, and his shameful pettiness and bitterness out, as President he at least had some convictions and the courage to stand by them.

  37. Democrats when wielding power are only against Republican preemptive war.

    Close. They were definitely for both Iraq and Afghanistan until they decided to run for President and use opposition to those wars to rally the base.

  38. This is a key point that most liberals/progressives miss. And it cuts across the spectrum of politics. That is, whatever power they wish to give the present government (and by corollary take away from the public), the next opposition government has access to that very same power and can use it in ways they simply will not like.

    They do not understand that the optimum is to not give the government the power in the first place.

  39. “Democrats when wielding power are only against Republican preemptive war. If anything, they are more promiscuous in choosing conflicts than their warmaking brethren on the other side of the aisle; just less likely to go all-in with ground troops.”

    True enough, though I’d leave out the qualifier about ground troops – history doesn’t support it.

    Most of America’s involvement in wars large and small started under Democratic presidents. Just in the 20th century, we had WW1 (Wilson, Democrat); WW2, (Roosevelt, Democrat), Korea (Truman, Democrat), Vietnam (Kennedy & Johnson, Democrats). Small wars (Honduran Intervention, Dominican Intervention, Somalia, Bosnia – all with “boots on the ground”), ditto, though not of course Grenada or Panama.

    The notion that the Republicans are America’s “war party” is simply not supported by history.

  40. I’m against Obama’s intervention in Libya, but this was not preemptive war. We intervened in an active civil war.

  41. 2011-3-31 15:12:09
    It sound great~,i think this article is pretty good~lol, but there is more awesome in here:http://www.topbagclub.com

  42. Gotta say, Matt, that’s the best blog-post subtitle I’ve seen in quite some time. Kudos.

    WTF is a kudo, anyway? Not the crappy granola snack, the other thing.

  43. There’s another factor to consider– Libya was one of the few nations to actually start to scale back it’s WMD program– and in fact people in both Washington and Europe have mentioned how much easier that has made things. Every nation is looking at those comments now.
    By this useless, illegal, insane decision, Obama may very well have torn the heart out of nonproliferation.
    I voted for him, in the hopes that we would have fewer foreign adventures, not to see him do something that makes the Bush era look like a model of forethought and clear headed planning.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.