Did Obama Launch a Third War?

Posted: Mar 20, 2011 8:43 AM
There's a lot of debate over the actions that Barack Obama has committed the United States military to in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya constitutes a new war. Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner poses a thought:

[M]aybe Obama doesn't think 112 Tomahawk Missiles and a pledge to shoot down Libyan aircraft flying in their own airspace counts as "war" -- in which case we have to wonder if we can ever know what he means by any word.

The Left has been curiously silent - outside of Michael Moore, who is of course an insane person. Indeed, partisan hack Jonathan Chait at liberal The New Republic denies the parallels between liberal humanitarian intervention in Iraq and in Libya.

The neocon model of standing up to aggression, while frequently wrong, is not always wrong. The model holds that dictators are like bullies, and if you make clear you'll stand up to them, they'll back down. Obviously, this way of thinking fails a lot, most notably leading up to the Iraq war... Opponents of intervening in Libya all seemed to assume that the threat of force would automatically mean employing force. This may not turn out to be a correct assumption.

The threat of force in Libya has turned into actual force, as Gadhafi has refused to back down. Now the liberal humanitarian interventionist Left has fallen back on a different explanation: it's easy! Far easier than the "quagmire" that George W. Bush dragged us down into. (This may not turn out to be a correct assumption.)

But furthermore, where are the crowds? Where are the protests? The Left was outraged that the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military force Against Iraq didn't explicitly authorize a war. This time, there's been no attempt by Obama to get Congress on his side.

I guess the Left will fall back on the explanation that Libya is not a war. It might not be, yet. It looks a lot like one. If ground troops are necessary (and both Secretary Clinton and President Obama have put that option on the table), will they need a declaration from Congress? Is it still not a war? Will we then be talking about 'peacekeeping' operations or somesuch nonsense?

Going to war in Libya may be the right idea. But the Left's twisting justifications in order to support their President leaves a lot to be desired.