In an attempt to defend President Obama’s foreign policy decisions the Center for American Progress has released a terribly misguided one page chart comparing the Iraq war and the Libya war. The chart’s basic message is that Obama is better than Bush, because Obama is much more thrifty when he launches an illegal war based on lies.
The chart basically implies both wars did the same good, removing one dictator each, but the Libya war was done more quickly and for the low low price of $1.1 billion instead of $806 billion. The chart and accompanying blog by Ken Sofer is deeply wrong on so many levels. From Ken Sofer:
Indeed, the last year saw the end to two very different wars and two competing visions of American power. One war, in Iraq, finally came to end in December after a series of poor policy choices and overzealous neoconservative thinking cost the U.S. nearly a trillion dollars and 4,500 American lives over the course of eight and a half years.
The other war, in Libya, accomplished nearly the exact same objectives as the war in Iraq, but the selective application of American power and the diplomatic efforts to gain the support of both NATO and the U.N. Security Council allowed the U.S. to accomplish its goals for just over $1 billion and not one lost American life.
(emphasis mine) If we are now admitting that the Libya action was a war, as opposed to not even a hostile action, then it means it was an illegal war; so Obama broke the law. Obama violated the constitution by starting a war, without Congressional approval, against a country that posed no immediate threat to the United States. That is a real issue whether or not our “objectives” were achieved or achieved at a relatively low cost.
Of course to make the claim that the same “objective,” mainly regime change, was accomplished in both Iraq and Libya is to ignore that was not supposed to be our objective. In the lead up to both wars, regime change was not the stated objective of either George W. Bush or Barack Obama. We supposedly went to war with Iraq to get rid of Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, while Mr. Obama said our goal in Libya was simply to protect the civilian protesters in one section of the country. You can only make the case that Obama achieved the same “objective” at a lower cost if you implicitly admit Obama also lied to the country about why he started a war and accept that regime change was always his real goal. This does not make Obama look better then Bush.
Finally, claiming Obama got the support of the UN Security Council is a massive distortion of the truth. The UN approved a resolution calling for a no fly zone to protect civilians. It did not authorize regime change nor authorize the United States’ military to fight for one side in a civil war. By the same token, Bush could point to many different UN resolutions against Iraq, including ones calling for a no fly zone, to claim international justification.
Is this sadly the best defense of Obama foreign policy that can be offered by a “progressive” organization? To be sure, Obama is like Bush in most of the horrible ways that count when it comes to launching unnecessary wars based on lies, but at least his wars are way cheaper.
Obama is Bush with efficiency.