Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another Imperial President

I listened to President Obama speak yesterday to announce the beginning of our third war against an Arab nation in the Middle East. What struck me was the similarity in demeanor and content between that speech and George Bush declaring war on Iraq.

Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue. The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners. The calls of the Libyan people for help would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. Moreover, the words of the international community would be rendered hollow.

Almost word for word what Bush said regarding the continuance of Saddam Hussein, minus only the “mushroom cloud” threat. One has to wonder, though, why none of those things, other than the deaths, will happen as a result of the current brutal repression and slaughter of protesters in Yemen or Bahrain, and why they did not happen in Sudan or Rwanda or Somalia.

The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. […] Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable. These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Qaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action.

Let me say again, the UN was formed for the purpose of preventing war. Obama went to great lengths of persuasion to get a resolution passed in order to use the UN to provide the color of international legitimacy for an act of war. If you did not hear echoes of George W. Bush in words like “these terms are not negotiable” and “the international community will impose consequences” then you are probably about ten years old.

And he finished with a line that could have come straight from a GWB speechwriter, “Our goal is focused, our cause is just, and our coalition is strong.”

And so every president in my lifetime has committed this nation to new military action abroad without Congress ever declaring war. Interestingly, the president most reviled for it came the closest to propriety, since the George W. Bush at least had obtained the “Authorization for Use of Military Force” in Afghanistan and Iraq, albeit by rather questionable means.

1 comment:

bruce said...

Actually, President George H. W. Bush (#41) was closer to propriety, he had a better mandate.

I'm not denying Bush #43 questionable means.

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