Drudge is currently highlighting the similarity between President Obama’s justification for today’s military action against Libya with what President Bush had to say about Iraq at the commencement of the war (strangely, both on March 19). Equally striking I think are some similarities – and contradictions – between the President’s decision on Libya and his objections to action in Iraq which he laid out in his famous 2002 speech:
That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
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. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.
He’s a bad guy. 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, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, 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.
I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.
I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the middle east, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda.
Ah, but the President has a clear rationale in the case with Libya – right? Sure he does. A rationale that boils downs to the fact that Gadhafi is a brutal, ruthless dictator who is threatening to butcher his own people. (People, it might be noted, who have taken up arms in an attempt to butcher him.)
And like with Saddam, Gadhafi poses no imminent threat to the United States or to his neighbors. And also like Iraq, critics have noted that we are now faced with a military engagement of undetermined length, cost, and consequences.
The key difference in this case, is that these critics do not include Barack H. Obama.
It’s not news to anyone I think that the Barack Obama of 2002/2003 was about as anti-war as any mainstream political figure could possibly be, especially in the wake of 9/11. But to further illustrate the point, here are some images – rarely seen I think – of another anti-war rally in Chicago in March 2003, just prior to the launch of the initial attacks on Iraq.
Read more here.