Obama and Bush
by Tom Donelson on October 23, 2011 at 10:52 AM
Let us give Obama credit for one thing, there is one less evil dictator in the world making the world is a better place. To see Gaddafi's body paraded in the street, one is reminded of the demise of Mussolini, who was hung up along with his mistress. (Mrs. Mussolini, who survived the war, must have enjoyed that sight of seeing his husband's mistress upside down with her late husband.) Gaddafi is merely an example of what happens to despots when the people lose their fear and merely revolt. The future of Libya is still in doubt and there are lessons to be learned but the tyrant is dead.
Maybe it is time to be rid of mythology. How often have we heard that Bush’s Administration engaged in illegal wars and never asked for a declaration of war? The reality is that both Bush Aministrations asked Congress for the right to use force if needed. There was a debate before the buildup toward war, and Congress was given the opportunity to say yea or nay. You can easily make the case that Congress allowed both Bush’s a declaration of war if Iraq did not meet certain conditions, which they did not.
Neither Obama in Libya nor Clinton in the Balkans ever went to Congress and asked for support. Whether one agreed with Obama’s policy toward Libya or whether one believed the air war against Serbia in 1998 was a sound policy, neither Democratic President ever sought cooperation from either Party.
In the case of the War on Terror, it was George Bush who sought the approval of Congress for military action in Afghanistan and in Iraq; this was not case in Libya where Obama sought approval from the UN and NATO but totally ignored Congress. Obama's failure to seek any consensus for Libya simply repeated what he did on his domestic policy where he forced his bank reform and healthcare bill upon the American people and over Republican opposition. Obama essentially emasculated the War Power Act and his war on terror has essentially copied Bush; a point made by writer Don Suber. (Obama's greatest success was to copy Bush’s administration war on terror.) For all intention, the left can never criticize a future Republican foreign policy again, at least one in which a Republican administration kicks ass.
Now for the lessons, the first being is that NATO can only serve a supplemental role to the United States when it comes to any offensive actions. European nations have spends far less as a percentage of the GNP on their military and without United States support, the Libya operation would have failed. French and British forces can provide support for the United States operation but NATO can’t sustain offensive capacities on its own, and the United States cannot afford the luxury of leading from behind.
The operation showed that under certain conditions, air support and special ops on the ground can aid a rebel force against a vulnerable government without much loss of life. If nothing else, Libya showed that there is one country that can reach any place with sufficient military force and that force is the United States. Maybe the real lesson is that the left was perfectly willing to oppose Bush’s foreign policy in a shrill fashion, but in the end, they had to accept the reality that American Power is actually good for the world. The shrill nature of the opposition only made it more difficult to produce a bipartisan foreign policy when you get into power. It is even more difficult to garner a bipartisan policy when you fail to seek support from the opposition or the American people. Obama did little to seek a consensus for his policy either domestically or in foreign affairs, even though there were conservatives willing to give Obama support of foreign affairs. Obama has received more support from Republicans for his policy than the other way around. Or maybe I should state that there were Republicans who gave him more support than he ever gave George Bush.