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President Obama’s Dumb War: Bush Light in a Jimmy Carter Suit

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President Obama’s trip to South America was routed around the political storms in Libya and a nuclear meltdown in Japan, but by the time his flight departed for Brazil, President Obama had already committed US forces to yet another war in the Middle East.

Political pundits describe the president’s decision to go to war as ”too much, too late”. By the time his flight landed in Brazil, President Obama’s new war in the Middle East had already enraged some social and union groups in Rio de Janeiro. They “have declared Obama persona non grata,” accusing the president of “bellicose policy of occupation” in foreign countries, and of attacking people “in the name of the war on terror.”

If that sounds familiar it is because similar language was used by critics against President Bush when he invaded Iraq. The difference is that President Bush waged his war with the consent of Congress,; Bush’s war was approved by a Democratic-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House. Also, President Bush had a clear military objective: regime change in Iraq, whether or not the coalition found evidence of nuclear weapons.

President Obama gave Libya an ultimatum, saying the terms of a UN Security Council resolution backing action to defend civilians were non-negotiable. And, though President Obama met with key congressional leaders to discuss Libya, his failure to seek congressional approval prior to attacking Libya, and further failing to outline an end game has angered lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, with Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich calling the president’s decision a ”a nightmare.”

As doubts mount over the president’s decision to start a new war, the coalition is “suffering from a lack of direction and waning support.” Another unpopular war could not come at a worse time for this president. The president’s approval numbers are slipping in the most recent polls, and a clear perception of dithering and indeed, passivity, has provoked concerns on both sides of the aisle regarding the president’s handling of Libya in particular, and the budget in general. With the unemployment rate hovering at unacceptable levels, and dropping poll numbers, the last thing the president needs is a third war in the Middle East.

The president’s tepid decision to start a new war in the Middle East was a bizarre combination of Bush Light and Jimmy Carter. President Obama attacked President Bush during a speech in 2002 for engaging in a ”dumb war.” In that speech Barack Obama defined a dumb war as one in which we go to war against a nation that “poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to its neighbors.” By attacking Libya, which poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to its neighbors, President Obama has started his own “dumb war.” And, unlike Bush, there is no commitment for a regime change, nor is there a long term plan to protect the innocent Libyan population from Colonel Gaddafi’s inevitable revenge.

Former President Jimmy Carter’s weak and ineffective handling of the Iran Hostage Crisis, caused him to lose his reelection bid to Ronald Reagan..

President Obama’s declaration that the USA’s commitment to the war in Libya will be ”in a matter of days and not a matter of weeks,” makes him appear weak and indecisive, if not naïve. It seems President Obama is wearing Jimmy Carter’s suit as he engages in his own dumb Bush Light war..

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About DouglasWWallace

  • Dan

    “without perspective, we cannot properly judge a situation…and without considering the lessons we are taught by history, we cannot have perspective.”—Glenn Contrarian

    Glenn, I’ve found the perfect girl for you.

  • Baronius

    No offense to Roger – I didn’t see comment #92, and was replying to #93, but my argument really does address #92.

  • Baronius

    Glenn, I hope that’s true, but history shows some wild variation on that point. During times of strong international alliance, it looks like war could become a thing of the past (like in the Peace of Metternich, or the standoff before WWI, or the balance after WWI). Sure enough, some revolution or imbalance comes along, or people just get tired of looking at each other’s faces, and the international equilibrium falls apart. I’d love it if, for example, this European union is the one that sticks, but there’ve been others that looked just as secure and they fell apart.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for nation-states to keep on acting unilaterally than ever before. The world of public opinion is becoming more and more of a factor in deciding which types of action are deemed legitimate and which are not.

    Quoted for truth.

  • Yet, Russia and China both abstained from voting rather than voting against the UN resolution.

    Besides, you’re missing the emphasis. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for nation-states to keep on acting unilaterally than ever before. The world of public opinion is becoming more and more of a factor in deciding which types of action are deemed legitimate and which are not. The kind of rebuttal you’re offering to my saying the glass is half-full is your contention that it’s half-empty – a stalemate at best.

    In any case, I’m not going to spend any more time trying to sway you against your static and unchanging view of the world. For all I care, keep on comparing the present to the Stone Age.


  • [#90 is in response to Richard’s #87.]

  • Oh, so now it’s left-leaning pollsters getting skewed data? I’m seriously considering asking the groundskeeper whether he wants to prosecute you for vandalism at this point.

    Your original claim had nothing to do with presidential approval ratings either.

    But no matter: if all pollsters except for Rasmussen are biased, let’s get it from the horse’s mouth, shall we?

    Dear me: even Rasmussen only puts two of the potential GOP candidates – Romney and Huckabee – in even so much as a statistical tie with Obama. The rest? Nowhere near.

    I think you should admit that you were wrong about your “all-comers-beat-Obama” claim and move on. If you’d rather be disingenuous and pretend you were saying something else, of course that’s entirely up to you.

    But I think you should pay careful attention to Baronius in #82. Banking on polls at all, this far ahead of the starting gun, is dicey at best.

  • Baronius

    G.K. Chesterton said that when a philosopher discovers a fact that contradicts his theory, he changes the fact.

    There’s no sign that countries are behaving in any different spirit, or in an impersonation of any different spirit, than they always have. There were a dozen UN resolutions against Iraq in the years before the US led a coalition against them. The action in Libya is unilateral by comparison. Was Russia less self-interested in its attack on Georgia? Is Iran’s nuclear program in the world’s best interest? Did Kim start running North Korea humanely after all mankind come to an agreement that he should? Is there any example, anywhere, of the trend that you’d like to see?

  • @86

    The issue of constitutionality, Baronius, though no doubt a matter of principled stand to some, is intimately tied to the idea of independent and sovereign nation-states being able to act unilaterally in the present world – the very notion which, if not debunking, I’m at least bringing to question. As to the “lack of clearly stated parameters,” it’s a touch-and-go type of situation; and to be able to satisfy your condition, I submit one would have to be a crystal-ball gazer.

    Re your objection to #3: I haven’t asserted that the nation-states ceased acting in the manner you indicated, only that they’re being required to act more and more “as if.” As I stressed in my comment, the real intentions and objectives are of lesser importance here than the need to employ a pretext, whereby the pretext assumes a degree of reality (if not new ideology) commensurable with the spirit of the times. The effects of the action undertaken under the pretext assume thus a far greater importance than the intentions themselves. Acting “as if” has a way of establishing new habits of mind and thought previously unanticipated, so as to become part of accepted social reality.

    Lastly, you’re exaggerating the difference between what the nation-states actually try to do, what they’re being forced to do – in this case, acting “as if” – and finally, what they may eventually end up doing (as a matter of practice). All our institutions, including that of “the state,” are always subject to change and changing conceptions (necessitated as they may be by ever-changing reality). Your unwillingness to recognize this interplay is precisely the kind of commitment to a static and unchanging world that I’m criticizing.

  • Richard E.

    #79. D.D.
    There’s just one tiny problem that left leaning pollsters have with their polling data. They include all voters as opposed to “likely voters.” Truly independent pollsters not only ask questions that are generic (not biased toward any party), but they also refuse to count people who are not likely to vote. I said polls show that “any John Doe” could beat President Obama. That means a generic Republican. Rasmussen is the most well known pollster who polls only “likely voters.” Their most recent poll shows Obama strongly approved by 23% of voters and strongly disapproved by 37% of voters. Overall , 52% of voters disapprove of Obama’s performance today. And, if you look at the Rasmussen daily tracking going back eighteen months you will find the President’s overall approval rate is consistently below 50%, with few exceptions, and his disapproval rate is consistently above 50%. Rasmussen polling is more accurate because they only count likely voters. They called it for Obama in 2008. They called it for the Republicans in November 2010. And, if you do your research, you will discover that Rasmussen has over time been more accurate than Gallup or RealClearPolitics. No president can win elections when greater than 50% of likely voters disapprove of his performance. I say it again, any “John Doe” can beat Obama.

  • Baronius

    Roger –

    (2): There are other valid criticisms, about the constitutionality of the move and the lack of clearly stated parameters.

    (3): Not at all. I think you’ll find that nation-states still act in their own interests, and that the thing that’s changed most since the engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq began is the Roger/Cindy thinking about the nation-state, not the nation-state itself. Your argument breaks down here, because you’re making a lot of assumptions about national interests and their relation with “world” interests.

  • talking about …

  • Let’s get clear about a number of “facts”:

    (1) The opposition to, and/or support for, the present involvement in Libya cuts across the party lines; there are plenty enough of supporters as well as detractors to make this point indisputable. Dennis Kusinich, for one, happens to be one of the most vociferous critics of the administration in this regard;

    (2) Apart from those who criticize the action on strictly political grounds – which voices, for this very reason, can be discounted as contributing nothing to the discussion but static – all “valid” criticisms appear to turn on how one views American interests (and the extent to which the subject action tends to promote or hamper American interests);

    3) Even so, the blatant failure in employing this mode of calculation, whereby “American interests” serve as it were an overall and a determining evaluative context, is a failure to adopt a more comprehensive horizon (and context) – a context defined by the interests of the international community (whereby all national interests, including US interests, take a back seat and become secondary to the presumably primary objective of achieving a more stable and peaceful world). I suggest that adopting such a perspective and framework will do wonders when it comes to understanding the unfolding events in Libya and the rest of the world in an entirely new light;

    4) It matters not (at this point) what were the real objectives and motives on the part of the administration which had led to the present involvement. What does matter, however, is that the contours of the world have changed (and are changing) to the point that it’s quickly becoming less and less respectable (and legitimate) for any nation-state, no matter how powerful, to act unilaterally, in good cause or in bad, but only in concert and in the context provided by the international community. So again, regardless of real intentions on the part of nation-states who still harbor nationalistic ambitions, regardless of the likelihood that “the will of the international community” may well masquerade here as a pretext, the very fact that such is pretext is increasingly needed (if not required) in this day and age before a state can undertake any action against another state, forcing all nation-states to behave as if is in itself a positive development. It signifies the spirit of the times;

    5) For all these reasons, especially #4, it’s obviously asinine to be comparing one “war” with another – Iraq with Afghanistan, or both of them with the operation in Libya. We’re taking about different time frames, and the only thing which justifies the making of superficial comparisons is that we’re living in a static and unchanging world;

  • Also, I can tell you from my perspective as an Englishman living in the US that Americans in general are very conservative. The Democratic Party is significantly to the right of many major European political parties.

    So just because an American self-identifies as “conservative” doesn’t mean they are going to vote Republican.

  • Baronius

    Richard, I’ve heard it said that the electorate is 20% liberal, 40% moderate, and 40% conservative. But experience shows that each party has a 40% floor. They could run a can of soup and get at least 40%. And each party can win in any state. So don’t trick yourself into believing that 2012 is a gimme.

  • Apparently Richard lives on planet Colbert.

    If he starts addressing us as “nation”, I’ll suspect that we might be getting punked! 🙂

  • Costello

    Apparently Richard lives on planet Colbert. Don’t bother him with facts or expect him to prove his arguments. He feels he’s right so he must be.

  • Richard, it’s well known that “protest” voting is common at midterms. But it’s foolish to read too much from those results into the presidential election. I would have thought the elections in 1994 and 1996 ought to have provided ample proof of that.

    Besides which, the midterms have nothing to do with your original argument. You specifically claimed that polls show just about any Republican beating Obama in a head-to-head. I provided a link to the Real Clear Politics average of polls showing that’s not even remotely the case. Now you say you were predicting an outcome based on voters’ general political outlook, which you were clearly not.

    Please refrain from moving the goalposts. It tears up the turf and it’s the devil of a job to put them back in.

  • Riichard E.

    Okay, zingzing and G.C., ignore the historic wave elections in November if you wish. That election was a national referendum on Obama and his policies. I suppose if a person did not read anything other than the NYT, and watched news only on the network stations, or the liberal cable news station, then it is possible such a person would believe that President Obama is favored in generic polls. Such a person would believe the wave election was not about Obama. But, polls also show that liberals represent approximately 20% of total voters. Those same polls show approximately sixty percent of voters in America today are conservative. That leaves the independents in the middle representing about 20% of voters. Does anyone on this planet really believe conservatives will give Obama another chance? Many fell for his rhetoric in 2008, but they have long since left him in a big way. Yep, zingzing, and G.C., you guys are the real minority among voters in the USA. Get used to it, or you can choose to continue to live on one of those “planets” that you like so well.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    Richard doesn’t need to show proof that ‘any Republican can beat Obama’. He just KNOWS they can…and that’s all the proof he needs.

  • zingzing

    “On what planet, Richard?”

    it’s right of here. mars, i guess. a few hours from now, i’d say mercury. although i don’t know which way i’m pointing now… meh. mars or mercury.

  • The question is not who can beat Obama, because the polls already show almost anyone can.

    On what planet, Richard?

  • Richard E.

    Okay, let’s get real. Any Republican John Doe beats Obama in most generic polls taken in the past eighteen months. The question is not who can beat Obama, because the polls already show almost anyone can. That reality puts a lot of pressure on qualified Republicans contemplating entering the primaries. It is public knowledge that the three networks will once again ordain Obama as the Messiah. They will spare no expense in demonizing the Republican candidate as they did McCain and Sarah Palin. Imagine a Republican candidate losing to someone as incompetent as President Obama. It would be the greatest humiliation, a defeat that would be equivalent to losing to Jimmy Carter. One can never underestimate the power of Soro’s money, or the thuggery and money of the unions, or the gutter politics of racial division, or the false claims that Republicans will take away social security. It’s a guaranteed replay of the Demcoratic strategy. In a way, Obama’s incompetence works in his favor. No one wants to lose an election to this guy. Plus, imagine inheriting the shit sandwich this guy will leave behind. Either way,you lose. Who can blame Republicans for hesitating. Better to let some other poor slob get the job and run in 2016.

  • the moment any of them actually stand up and say that Obama did something right, they’re expelled from the herd. In fact, it’s sorta like what they suspect is the reason why 98% of climatologists support AGW, because – say the conservatives – if one climatologist says differently, he’s expelled from the herd.

    A very astute observation, Glenn. In fact, from what I’ve seen over the course of my ten years living here, it’s one of the major failings of the American right: the assumption that your opponent is doing what you would do in his situation.

    It’s especially true of the AGW deniers.

  • Well, I’d say at this juncture Newt has about as good a chance of getting the nomination as anybody. It seems that no one – at least no one with a snow ball’s chance in hell – has the guts to actually admit they’re running. No one wants to be the sacrificial lamb, or the scapegoat.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Give them time, Costello, and they’ll come up with yet another story about how terrible and unAmerican and stupid and treasonous and arrogant and deceitful Obama is…

    …because the moment any of them actually stand up and say that Obama did something right, they’re expelled from the herd. In fact, it’s sorta like what they suspect is the reason why 98% of climatologists support AGW, because – say the conservatives – if one climatologist says differently, he’s expelled from the herd.

    But while it ain’t that way among the scientific community, looks like it’s precisely that way among the conservatives – witness Newt Gingrich’s epic flip-flop about whether we should enforce a no-fly zone over Libya….

  • Costello

    Just heard NATO agreed to take over operations. You armchair generals need a new narrative

  • Clavos

    His entire term has been replete wit h serial missteps.

  • Clavos

    And assumptions of wrongdoing without evidence or even a strong indication thereof are a very dangerous habit.

    Evidence abounds in the case of Obama…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I strongly suspect your most recent comment is a wonderful example of projection…not in that you have little regard for ideas in opposition to your own, but in that you want to believe the worst of the man, so as a result you assume the worst about the man.

    And assumptions of wrongdoing without evidence or even a strong indication thereof are a very dangerous habit.

  • Clavos

    If you don’t think the military and state dept informed Obama…

    Of course they did. Whether or not he paid attention, especially to the parts which didn’t meet his preconceptions, is the question; he’s shown repeatedly in the past that he has very little regard for ideas in opposition to his own.

  • Costello

    Actually, your comments prove you wrong. You are a hack like the Bush haters, unable to reasonably assess the president’s actions and offering only childish insults. That may have served you well on the playground but does little anywhere else. If you don’t think the military and state dept informed Obama that’s more a revelation of your own ignorance then his. Not liking the decision would be another matter entirely but then that might require more than a lame one-liner

  • Baronius

    Baritone, are there any dead horses you haven’t beat up on?

    Of course Newt is an opportunist. Find me a conservative who doesn’t know that. Rasmussen has him under 3%, last I can find.

  • Clavos

    Richard and Clavos appear to have confused having an opinion with having an informed opinion.

    No confusion at all, Costello — I realize yours aren’t informed.

  • Costello

    Richard and Clavos appear to have confused having an opinion with having an informed opinion.

  • The best scenario, of course, would have been a McCain/Palin win – a killing or disabling heart attack for McCain and then the presidency settling on the capable hands of Sister Sarah. The world would be a wholly better place, you betcha!

    BTW – Did anyone notice how the “Newtster’ on March 7th unequivocally stated that the US should attack Khadafi’s forces immediately. But after Obama did so, the lizard man did a 180, saying that NO we should never have gotten involved. Do any of you Reps & cons see what a lying, opportunistic asshole Gingrich is? And, comparatively speaking, by comparison, he’s considered to be one of the more intelligent – even cerebral – wingnuts.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    As I’ve said many times before, just as the captain of a ship gets all the credit and all the blame for everything that happens on his watch, the guy in charge of the ship of state also gets all the credit and all the blame. I’ll heartily agree that Soviet missteps and tragedies such as Afghanistan and Chernobyl and an economic and political system rife with corruption played a large part…

    …but when one fighter can no longer fight, everyone agrees that the other guy wins.

    You know that I’m no huge fan of Reagan – it’s Reaganomics and the ‘tax-cuts-are-the-cure-for-all-that-ails-us’ mentality that he fostered that’s led us to the Great Recession…

    …and Reagan also ‘proved that deficits don’t matter’, as Dick Cheney pointed out.

    I’m repeating all this, Clavos, simply to point out that I’ve never been concerned with holding up any one person (including Obama) as a shining example of humanity. I only want to point out the facts and the consequences of human foibles.

  • All you libtards keep comparing your guy to Bush or Reagan or any other republican pres is really getting old.

    I thought (and so did you) Barry was gonna be different..you know, a transcendent, messiah kinda guy, but come to find out he’s no different than any of the rest of ’em and it’s really got you pissed off!

    But you keep going, because we all know how well that , Johnny did it, why can’t I?, excuse worked when your ages matched your maturity levels.

    Instead of saying, Bush did it too, why not say what you really mean…I have no excuses for the idiot I helped put in the white house?

  • Now, if you want to see my thoughts on the recent heating up of events in my neighborhood, you can read it at Ruvy’s Roost.

    A toned down version of this is still waiting in Pending at BC…. All the editors must be sound asleep.

  • Reality seems to slip from you American sheeple so easily – especially when you start waving around your magic “constitution”.

    In Libya, there are NO good guys. There is only one disgusting terrorist in power – and the disgusting terrorists who want to kick him out – so that THEY can be in power. This isn’t a dumb war – it is more along the lines of a tribal or gang war.

    The only reason outsiders get involved is that Libya has something they want. For Americans and Europeans, that “something” is oil. For Israel, that “something” is strategic position and the possibility of engaging a hated terrorist in a sub-rosa alliance. Having done this once with Arafat, the fools at the top in Israel would like to repeat their “success”. That they were not successful with Arafat is something they do not want to be reminded of, but reality cannot be allowed to bother them, as it cannot be allowed to bother you.

    The people fighting this war are not dumb at all. But the idiots from overseas (including Israel) who are meddling in it ARE.

  • cindy

    “Dumb war” is a phrase that shows how disconnected people who talk about war are from reality.

  • Roger B

    Russian historians say Reagans belligerence gave legs to Soviet hawks and prolonged the cold war.

  • Clavos

    Considering the comment was totally irrelevant, it seems fair

    If questioning Bam’s awareness were irrelevant, you would have been right, but given his reign so far, it’s not only relevant, but imperative for the people to question his every move and decision.

  • Glenn – I agree with you regarding the issue at hand – our actions over Libya. However, I take issue at one thing you stated far above: That Reagan won the cold war. Other than the fact that he happened to be the guy sitting in the Oval Office at the time, and he read that now famous line in Berlin – “Mr. Gorbachov, tear down this wall; beyond that what did Reagan DO that brought down the Soviet Union?

    That is one of those “facts” that gets bandied about without any reference to reality. The Soviet Union succumbed to its own weight – to its own corruption – to its own failures. Reagan did nothing but take credit for it. And it seems that everybody has bought into that. Even some of the more lefty/liberal/progressive contributors here at BC seem to reserve some kind of hallowed space for Reagan. Aside from his improbable hair, RR did little to light the path for the future of this country. I guess he DID bolster sales of jelly beans, but I find the reverence that so many people have for him is hard to swallow.


  • El Bicho

    “Totally irrelevant and a non sequitur to my comment.”

    Considering the comment was totally irrelevant, it seems fair

  • Glenn Contrarian

    No, Clavos, it’s not.

    Why? Because without perspective, we cannot properly judge a situation…and without considering the lessons we are taught by history, we cannot have perspective.

  • Clavos

    Dubya – and to a lesser extent, Reagan (but not Bush Sr.) – were willfully ignorant.

    Totally irrelevant and a non sequitur to my comment.

  • From what little I’ve followed on this mess in Libya, the US has another ballsup on its hands. Obama messed up yet again and can’t do nothin’ right. No surprise. That’s what you get when an incompetent kicks out the Jew-boy who’s been guiding him. Emanuel was a traitor to the Jewish people – but he was good to Obama, and for Obama.

    But truth be told, I don’t give a rat’s ass what happens in Libya, except as it might be a precedent for invading and attacking Israel. Meanwhile, events are getting hotter here in my neck of the woods. I wrote about it, but the editorial board here didn’t like my “tone”. Oh well. Shit happens. That is the problem of BC’s editorial board, not mine. So, I stuck it on my Facebook page. If you can get to the link above you can read it. When I’m able to, I’ll get it into my own blogspot, and you’ll be able to read it there.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Assuming, of course, his decisions are “informed…”

    Nice throwaway comment. Problem is, Clavos, Dubya – and to a lesser extent, Reagan (but not Bush Sr.) – were willfully ignorant. Witness Dubya’s who-cares attitude when someone tried to point out to him the difference between the Sunni and the Shi’a.

    Obama’s not willfully ignorant. I never assumed that Bush Sr. didn’t know what was going on (for good or ill), and I wouldn’t make the same assumption of what’s going on…again, for good or ill.

  • Roger B

    Maybe there’s a silent military coup in Washington, suggested by the continuity of policy from GWB to OHB. After all, the military is the most stable outfit in DC, being basically bi-partisan, long term job stability, and seeing war anywhere anytime as job insurance.

  • Clavos

    …I am guessing most of you here don’t have access to the details that are informing his decisions.

    Assuming, of course, his decisions are “informed…”

  • Richard E.

    Costello #43
    Let’s eee, UK and Italy want NATO to be in charge, France and Turkey don’t want to be in charge. Meanwhile Germany pulls out of the operation and Norway has its planes sitting and waiting for a decision.

    Boy, I’m sure glad Obama had “access to the details” from “world leaders,” so they could figure out the command and control issues before the shooting started

  • Richard E.

    Costello, #43. And, you are assuming he is consulting with world leaders aren’t you? You know what they say about people who assume?

  • Costello

    Not sure how people are comparing the apples of Iraq with the oranges of Libya, but it doesn’t matter what Senator Obama said back then. He is now having to deal with world leaders, and I am guessing most of you here don’t have access to the details that are informing his decisions.

  • Baronius

    Clavos – I think that even the strongest interventionist would like to see someone else step up. But as PJ O’Rourke said, when something like this happens, no one looks to Sweden. I mean, these days there’s such a power vacuum that Venezuela looks like a player.

    Dread – It does seem like France has been stumbling to find a new system of government ever since Louis XVI.

  • Glenn, Baronius: point taken about World War I, although probably the best that can be said about that was that they didn’t lose.

    Glenn, I think you meant to say that they’ve had roughly the same system of government since the deposition of Napoleon III, which is broadly true with a few tweaks along the way (the Fourth and Fifth Republics).

    Besides Indo-China, they lost a war with Turkey in 1921, the Suez conflict (with Israel and Britain) in the 1950s, and a colonial war in Algeria in the 60s. They’ve also been involved in ineffective peacekeeping operations in Rwanda, Chad and Côte d’Ivoire.

  • John Lake

    Richard E.
    The preemptive invasion of Iraq was in fact a ‘dumb war’. On last September 11, I spend most of the day watching the televised reminiscences, in time line; exactly how it was that memorable day. Saudi Arabia was immediately mentioned, before the second tower fell. The Palestinian Liberation Front was considered, but they quickly issued a statement that they had no involvement, no fore-knowledge. In connection with Saudi Arabia, bin Laden himself was mentioned. There was no mention by knowledgeable newscasters during that long day of Irag, or Hussein.
    My personal thought is that G.W.Bush made a decision to attack somebody in retaliation, and that weak Iraq, air force buried in the sand, was a safe choice. As you see, I am no fan of Bush.
    Libya is another of those walk on a tight wire decisions. We support freedom fighters. We have access to oil. In this case we may have to manufacture some freedom fighters. Some experts say there is more Muslim sect involvement than we are generally aware of. So, Pres. Obama couldn’t very well wait for the reach-across-the-isles (right!) congress to make up it’s collective mind. He determined to intervene, and did so. Probably right. There are a few more issues which I discussed in my earlier comment here.

  • Clavos

    It’s left us feeling like the one guy who’s almost sober enough to drive home, dropping off all of his friends.

    I like that analogy…

  • Baronius

    Dread, you shouldn’t have made it 200 years. You go back to 1811 and you’ll see a French Empire which rivalled Charlemagne’s (who was also a Frenchman). The French have a strong military history. As Glenn notes, they fought Germany to a tie in WWI. It just left them fatigued for the next war – but every European country came out of that one with the same level of demoralization that France fell into a few decades earlier.

    Demoralization isn’t necessarily the result of losing a war. In fact, the memory of a loss can energize a country. England, France, and Germany are trying to overcome a long military fatigue. The US has been toying with that kind of exhaustion since 1968, but we haven’t found any non-psychopathic country to turn our mantle over to. It’s left us feeling like the one guy who’s almost sober enough to drive home, dropping off all of his friends.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    Actually, France had good leadership during WWI, in some ways better than did Germany at least at the outset. I’m reading John Keegan’s The First World War right now and that’s why I mentioned it…and they did fight by far the lion’s share of WWI, perhaps even to a greater proportional extent than Russia did in WWII…and we did win the war.

    But here’s a thought – except for a four-year interlude in WWII, France has had pretty much the same government since the end of Napoleon III, I think (but I could be wrong and I’m too lazy to look it up real quick)…but how many different governments has Germany, Russia, Spain, and most of the rest of Europe (except for England, Switzerland, and Portugal) had during that time?

    Seems to me they may have lost WWII (until we helped win it back for them), Vietnam, and a war against Germany in the late 1800’s…but since they’re one of the few who’ve had the same government during all that time (except WWII), I’d say they’ve done pretty good at winning in the long run.

  • France has a strong military and would be, on paper, perfectly capable of prosecuting war with Libya on its own.

    I say on paper because the place suffers from chronically bad military leadership, which is why they’ve lost every war they’ve got involved in for the last 200 years.

    Can’t really blame them for hesitating, can you?

  • Richard E.

    Baronius, I never disputed that France was the first to fly planes over Libya, but don’t kid yourself about who was first to get involved militarily. The USA had warships providing strategic military support including aerial surveillance, as well as jamming capabilities in place well before France entered the war. Without the direct involvement of the US military, France would not have the ability to go to war with Libya.

  • Baronius

    Richard, France got involved militarily before we did. Chris is right. Second point, whether Libya is at war or not would take a ground analysis that none of us are in a position to do. We could play linguistic games with the word “war”, but they wouldn’t compensate for the fact that we don’t know what Libya looks like right now. As for the Arab League, they were Lucy holding the football, and we were Charlie Brown.

    Did we move too slow or too fast? If we’d acted as soon as Qaddafi put his planes in the air, we could have helped the revolutionaries more. As it stands now, we probably have to deal with tanks and mercenaries, not just aircraft. If we’d waited longer, we’d have a coalition with actual members – just in time to view the sun-bleached bones of the revolutionaries from the safety of our aircraft. This one’s a tough call.

    I do want to gloat for a moment and remind everyone that in 2008 I predicted that Obama would be more likely to get us into a war (with Iran, I wrongly guessed, although his presidency isn’t over) out of a need to assert himself after years of being walked all over by the Arab world.

  • Clavos


  • Glenn Contrarian


    He stood up there and said, “GIMME THIS JOB! Thou SHALT give me this job!”, unlike all the rest of the presidents who were quite bashful and reluctant, right?

    And then according to your guys he goes on an ‘apology tour’, just like any really prideful, arrogant man would do, while really humble people like the Republican presidents we’ve had have never needed to apologize for squat!

    Yes, Clavos, you’ve really nailed his personality down, first try!

  • Clavos

    but you’re not the man who had to take a whole heaping bite of this crap sandwich.

    No, and I never will. I feel no sympathy whatever for him; he asked — no,demanded, the job. And, it turns out, he’s not up to it.

    Too bad for all of us, not just those of you who voted him in — we’re all in the same ship, and he’s sinking it.

  • Richard E.

    John Lake: My point is that this article is about the President’s on-the-record definition of what constitutes a “dumb war.” The President is also on record for proclaiming that the President does not have authority to engage in war without the consent of Congress. That is the essence of this article, the President has violated his own values, his promises and his own legal interpretation of the War Powers Act. There is a lot of noise by others who want to make it a political argument or discuss the merits of the war itself. But, there has yet to be a single comment, other than my own, which addresses the core issue of this article. 1. President Obama is engaged in a “dumb war,” a term he defined and then used to condemn the war in Iraq. 2. The President started the war without the consent of Congress, which he, as a constitutional scholar, has said is in violation of the War Powers Act. What the author doesn’t mention, but is well known news today, is that many on the left are calling for President Obama’s impeachment because he violated the War Powers Act, including a prominent Democratic member of Congress. If you think it is naive for voters to expect the President to have integrity as to his moral arguments (dumb wars) then so be it. But, why can’t you accept the reality that the President’s actions in Libya are, by his own definition, a “dumb war,” and by his own definition, a violation of the War Powers Act. That is the essence of the author’s article, and in my opinion it is a valid point.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Care to point out any other president who faced two wars and a major economic crisis the day he took office? Any Republicans? No. We could point out FDR, for something like 5000 banks failed the day before he took office from the Republican who had it before him….but FDR didn’t have any wars going on at the time.

    So you can sit back in your armchair and make whatever comments you like, but you’re not the man who had to take a whole heaping bite of this crap sandwich. You’re just the guy who’s laughing at him thinking it can’t taste that bad….

  • John Lake

    The phrase “A moral issue involving Obamas character and values” seems a little naive, but may have some pertinence. Speaking of Obama, I haven’t seen the context of “dumb war” so I will hesitate to comment. It is forgone that Gadhafi’s reign over Libya, a potent force in the Mediterranean region, is about to end. The people have come out in opposition to Gadhafi, the fighting has begun, and there can be no victory for the madman of Libya. He is in fact less wise, and far more inhumane than Hussein ever was.
    It is important to note that the popular revolution has no established leaders, no center, no alternative that we can realistically work with. The whole idea of “work with” has republican roots, and is far preferential to “dumb war”. If there are civilized, responsive forces on the side of democracy in Libya, we will have to seek them out. The author says we waited too long; Obama has mentioned that thoughtful action requires time to think. Consulting the congress could take months, by today’s standards (or years!) so no, I don’t think Obama was late getting in. We also recall that the boys in Washington want the American people to think we are not leading, but supporting the global agencies. These agencies incidentally could use some shoring up. I don’t doubt but that there are those who think the United Nations is a weakling being dominated by the Unites States and Britain, for their own purposes
    If some insurgent group, apparently for good, but in fact not fully developed, wins the support of the Libyan rebels, and the world, we will have our hands tied in monitoring and influencing Libya for the sake of the people, for the protection of order, and for the oil. For our government to have announced that it will soon step out may have negative consequences. Obama is not passive or uninterested; he seems that way because he is dedicated to not having concern over political consideration. The President stressed the economic impact we have established and can maintain, and that he will make full use the diplomatic element; I’m interpreting that to mean not only dialogue, but the use of legal operatives working within. Maybe I’m overly romantic; let the CIA handle it, that’s my motto. In the end, we are indeed attempting to implement another government, in another Muslim area, with whom we can deal, while making it appear that they are the choice of the people.
    We need hope that China will see our stated positions as true concern. And if we overstep our stated positions, maybe they will sympathize. Some Republicans delight in pulling China’s chain.
    We should probably have some concern in spreading ourselves thin; if we are perceived that way, a nation such as North Korea, hungry, painfully proud, may seize on the opportunity. Iran may be seeking deeper ties with those who share the Iranian view.
    We can only hope this all goes well, and we are doing, indeed, the right thing.

  • Richard E.

    “Libya is not a war?” Come on Christopher, you can’t be that naive. And, if you sincerely believe that France, or any other nation would have entered this war without the USA’s active participation, I have some beachfront property in Arizona to sell you. And, can you tell me how many Arab nations have deployed military assets in this war so far? Can you say zero? This is a war, and it is Obama’s dumb war, a war that he has no idea how to pass off to our European allies. And, as for the Arab league, they have already bailed.

  • What is happening in Libya is not a war, nor was it started by the USA, who were not at all keen to get involved militarily and would not have done so without the Arab League supporting intervention.

  • Richard E.

    G.C. Once again you deflect from the core issue of this article. By the way, did President Obama personally convey to you that “he’s trying to do the best he can,” or did you make that up? President Obama is the one who narrowly defined what is a “dumb war,” in the context of defining why he believed Bush’s wars were dumb. So, if you believe that President Obama is “trying to do the best he can,” then you must also believe that President Bush was doing the best that he could when he went to war. Remember, we’re discussing a very narrow issue here. That issue is the defintion of what constitutes a “dumb war” according President Obama’s own words. You do not dispute that he has violated his own promise not to engage in “dumb wars,” and you do not dispute that he violated his own interpretation of the law of the land regarding the President’s authority to engage in wars. So, if you are going to make assumptions about Obama’s state of mind to justify his “dumb war” in Libya, then you must also give President Bush the same benefit regarding his “dumb wars.” But, let’s not stray from the point. President Obama has started a “dumb war” by his own defintion, and he has violated the constitution if we are to interpret it according to President Obama’s legal interpretation, a man who is a legal expert on the US Constituion. You want to make it a political argument, but in order to make that work, you have to make assumptions about the President’s state of mind. That’s messed up.

  • Clavos

    yeah, clavos. but them “hawks” sure have gotten rather wimpy lately, haven’t they?

    Heh. Ya think, zing?

  • Clavos

    I guess it never occurred to you that he’s trying to do the best he can with the crap sandwich he inherited in January of 2009

    Awww, poor Bammy and all his Wibbie fwiends…

  • Clavos

    And since when did a joint military operation with other countries become O’s war?

    Oh puleeze.

    Every war is the US’s. Paraphrasing an aphorism we used to say in the sixties, if the UN gave a war and the US sat it out, the war would succumb in days.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    ‘scuse me? You’re saying that he was either trying to score political points or he actually believes that Bush’s war was a ‘good war’? I guess it never occurred to you that he’s trying to do the best he can with the crap sandwich he inherited in January of 2009 – two wars, one of which was wildly illegal far beyond what’s going on now in Libya, and a little thing called the Great Recession.

    But I guess to you, our limited involvement in Libya is every bit as bad as that trillion-plus-dollar war in Iraq that cost thousands of American military lives and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives.

  • Richard E.

    G.C. You continue to ignore the core issue of this article. Obama specifically and narrowly defined what constituted a “dumb war.” Either he was lying to score political points, or he has now changed his mind, as you point out, and believes that President Bush’s war was in reality a good war–not a dumb war. Either way, he broke his promise to the American people as to the conditions under which he would take our nation into war. Also, as a constitutional expert, President Obama specifically said the US Constitution does not allow a President to engage in war without authorization from Congress. So, not only did he lie to the American people about starting dumb wars, but under his interpretation of the Constitution, he has violated the US Constitution by going to war without the consent of Congress. And, that is what has caused both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to voice their anger. You want to make this a political argument. But it is a moral issue involving Obama’s character and values, and it is a legal issue involving a violation of the US Constitution, according to Obama’s own expert opinion.

  • Costello

    Anyone who thinks all the libs have become hawks might want to pull his head out of the sand. There are libs calling for O’s impeachment over this.

    And since when did a joint military operation with other countries become O’s war?

  • zingzing

    yeah, clavos. but them “hawks” sure have gotten rather wimpy lately, haven’t they?

    hi, i’m a hawk. i’m not going to hurt you, but you can’t fly here. and i’m going to stay off the ground. looks dirty. and i’ve got to ask all my friends what they think first. and maybe then… no… wait…. just stop hurting each other, ok? jeez. please? that would be nice.

    it’s certainly not like the good old hawks of the past… let the bodies hit the floor! let the bodies hit the floor! or whatever nu-metal garbage real hawks used to listen to. (do they still? i dunno. tis possible.)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius #15 –

    Well said!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Did we now? If you’d listen to liberal pundits, you’d find most of them do not approve of Obama’s airstrikes against Libya.

    But since that doesn’t fit in with your apparent worldview of liberals-are-evil-incarnate-or-maybe-just-stupid, you just go on with your assumption that we’re all hawks, now….

  • Baronius

    Lest the tables be completely turned, conservatives need to support the military action or articulate very clearly why don’t, and they better not sit around spitefully hoping that it falls apart on the current President’s watch. They’d also be wise not to turn the microphone over to the Paulers who oppose any military engagement: while such people have been honorably consistent, giving them any additional exposure will make the GOP look like opportunists.

  • Clavos

    Funny how all the libs have suddenly become hawks just ’cause their man went to war.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    All wars ARE dumb…but that does NOT mean they are unnecessary.

    What you’re doing, Richard, is demanding that the decisions that the president faces are black-and-white…but are you really so naive that you don’t understand that the choices he faces are almost NEVER black-and-white, but many, many shades of gray?

    And I’ll point out to YOU, Richard, that what one says on the campaign trail does NOT always jive with the reality of the office. Remember Bush 41’s “Read my lips – no new taxes!” pledge? And what happened? In order to pull us out of the early ’90’s recession (that cost him his reelection), he raised taxes…and our economy did very well under the Clinton administration – but Clinton never did credit Bush with making the hard decision to raise taxes.

    Any president who refuses to change his mind when circumstances necessitate that he do something other than he pledged on the campaign trail, then that president is a tyrant. It takes COURAGE to change one’s mind when one sees that he was wrong about something.

    And if you think presidents are sometimes forced to do something different than what they promised on the campaign trail, then you have some naivete that you need to work on.

    One more thing – you don’t hear me complaining about Obama’s failure to close Gitmo, right? Do you know why that is? I personally want that place closed because it’s a grand injustice that shames my country…

    …but I also know that when two men of diametrically-opposed viewpoints agree on something, they’re probably right on that thing. Besides the huge mistake of creating the mess in the first place, Bush decided to keep the prison at Gitmo open and occupied. Obama pledged to close it down and I believe he was entirely sincere in that pledge…but once he was faced with the reality of the situation, he could not force it to close down.

    So that tells me that there’s a REASON it can’t be closed down…and that’s why I leave the subject alone: two men of diametrically-opposed viewpoints have essentially agreed that it must stay open.

  • Richard E.

    G.C. You repeatedly ignore the point of this article. President Obama specifically defined a “dumb war,” and further said, “I’m not against all wars. I’m against dumb wars. By attacking Libya he has done exactly that which he accused W of doing, and worse yet, he is doing exactly what he said he would not do. He has started a “dumb war” by his own definition, and he has started it without consent of Congress, which he has said the office of the Presidency does not have the authority to do. You are so partisan, you can’t even acknowledge that Obama has violated his own values and principles.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Did I say compare him only to Dubya? No. Look at all the presidents!

    IMO it is hypocritical to accuse Obama of doing a thing wrong without calling for the heads of the previous presidents who did FAR worse by any measure you care to use!

    Clavos, can you not see that this is nothing more than political maneuver by the Right? Reagan and Dubya had five instances of sending in ground troops on foreign soil between them – and we’re still fighting two of those wars as a result. Yet where was the oh-so-righteous protest of the Right? NOWHERE…until Obama did it, and THEN they howl about how he didn’t consult Congress (except for the Republican leadership (McCain, Boehner) who were claiming he should’ve done it sooner.

    It’s just like how the Republicans under Dubya was handed a budget SURPLUS that was supposed to completely pay off our national debt in less than two decades…and then they blew up the deficit with two unfinanced wars and Medicare Part D and gave us a budget deficit so bad that we’re paying over $200B per year in interest alone…

    …but when Obama came in and had to push for the stimulus package that DID work to keep America out of a second Depression according to most economists, all of a sudden, lo and behold, the Republicans become oh-so-thrifty deficit hawks howling about how Obama’s ruining the economy!

    No, Clavos, the frankly hypocritical arguments by the Right against Obama’s airstrikes against Libya are political maneuver and nothing more.

    Those protests from the LEFT, now, at least most of these aren’t hypocritical because most (not all) of the Left was against our ground-troop involvement in Lebanon, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, and especially Iraq.

  • Clavos

    because as I said, if you judge a man without having someone with whom to compare him, your judgement is therefore completely arbitrary.

    You can’t judge a man and his actions without comparing what he has done to what other citizens have or have not done. Likewise, you cannot condemn a president without knowing whether he is really as bad as presidents who you have not condemned.

    That’s total bull. That’s the least effective way to judge someone. There are many more ways to size up an individual than by comparison with another person, and they’re far more cogent.

    You say you’re a religious Christian man. Your own religion teaches you better ways to judge people than by comparison with others. the standards of your own community and culture are better, not to mention your own standards.

    If you judge Bam by W’s performance, you’ve lowered the bar to an unacceptable level (anybody could be better); likewise, if you judge by comparison to one of the founders, you’ve set it to a level Obama’s not capable of achieving — he hasn’t enough character.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    No, you’re wrong – because as I said, if you judge a man without having someone with whom to compare him, your judgement is therefore completely arbitrary.

    You can’t judge a man and his actions without comparing what he has done to what other citizens have or have not done. Likewise, you cannot condemn a president without knowing whether he is really as bad as presidents who you have not condemned.

  • Clavos

    And why is it that when conservatives attack Obama, they get SO ticked off when I politely point out how much worse their guys were in the same position?

    Because it’s irrelevant — it doesn’t change the aspect or importance of whatever the individual big cheese is doing. Comparing O’s actions to W’s in no way makes O’s better or worse (or W’s, for that matter).

  • Richard E.

    G.C. I haven’t attacked anyone. You are the one who has taken this discussion off-track, going back to the 1980’s for whatever reason. My point is that President Obama could have ended both the Iraq and Afganistan wars, during his first year in office, with a stroke of the pen, and you and I both know that Congress would have gone along with that decision. But, he chose not to. The author has pointed out that this President has started yet a third war in the Middle East, in direct contradiction to his own stated principles, and in fact has done that which he accused President Bush of doing–starting a dumb war. I think it happens to be a valid point, as do many people on the left.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Richard –

    I notice you didn’t answer my reply about ‘declared principles’ and Bush and Reagan, did you?

    Here’s the thing, Richard – if you judge a man on what he does but refuse to compare his actions to those taken by other men in the same position, then the standard you require him to meet is by necessity purely arbitrary.

    How can you possibly judge what a president does without comparing his actions to what other presidents did? If you didn’t compare Bush to any of the other presidents, you could make him look like an angel! Comparisons, then, are CRUCIAL in order to judge a man’s character.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And why is it that when conservatives attack Obama, they get SO ticked off when I politely point out how much worse their guys were in the same position? It seems to me that they would have room to talk if their guy did BETTER…but seeing as how their guys did worse – and repeatedly so – I guess all they can do is cry “Hey, no fair!” when I point out how their last three guys were all worse than any of our last three guys…

    …the only exception being that Reagan won the Cold War, which is one of the greatest achievements of any president. Other than that (and bringing a sense of pride back to the military), the guy was pretty much a disaster.

  • Richard E.

    G.C. So, what does that have to do with Obama starting a third war in the Middle East?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Richard E –

    “Bush Light” – that, sir, is a comparison, and I am quite justified in aiding the author in making a proper comparison.

    When it comes to violating one’s own declared principles, well, principles are one thing, and the realities of being president is something else altogether. Remember “Read my lips – no new taxes”? And what about the eleven times that Reagan raised taxes during his administrations? Of course they weren’t called tax hikes, but that’s what they were….

  • G.C. You’re letting your politics get in the way of the facts. Libya is no Kosovo, and Gaddafi is no Slobodan Miloševi?. Why are you attacking Bush, when this article is about Obama’s war? Iraq and Afganistan? Those are wars that now belong to President Obama, because he could have ended them during his first year in office with the flick of a pen. Instead, he escalateded one war, and continued Bush’s strategy for winding down the other. This article is about Obama’s war and why it violates his own declared principles. You failed to address that issue, didn’t you?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Oh boyohboyohboy –

    “Bush light”! Wanna compare Obama to Bush? You got it! Starting with the Gipper when Dubya’s daddy was VP, of course.

    Reagan sent ground troops to Lebanon, Panama, and Grenada…none of whom posed an imminent threat to America. Not to mention Iran-Contra, of course….

    Clinton? He – like Obama with Libya – decided to limit America’s involvement in Kosovo to air power only…and it worked.

    Bush? The day after 9/11, he told Rumsfeld to make plans for invading Iraq…and he continued to ignore all indications that NO, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and NO, Iraq didn’t have nuclear weapons, and NO, Iraq posed no imminent threat to America. He invaded Afghanistan, too – which wouldn’t have been so bad, considering 9/11, but then he began ignoring Afghanistan and sent most of our power to Iraq instead.

    The result? Obama got to inherit both wars. He’s tried to make the best out of this crap sandwich he was handed (not to mention something called the Great Recession that came with it) in January of 2009, is presently drawing down troops in Iraq, and will begin drawing down troops in Afghanistan in 2014, IIRC.

    But this Libya thing is the only one that Obama initiated…and so far he seems to be following the SAME path that Clinton took – air power only, no ground troops…and lots of diplomacy to the surrounding nations.

    Frankly, this particular ‘Bush light’ is a heck of a lot better than ‘Bush classic’!