As I have mentioned before, I've been a little squishy about our involvement in Libya because I don't know if the U.S. stamp of approval does much for democratic uprisings in this part of the world. But I must say the rebuke of our Libyan involvement is just disgusting to me. Based on their unwavering and uncritical support of Bush's moral-free invasion of Iraq and our way-past-unwelcome forays in Afghanistan, I just can't believe these people can start preaching to us now about war powers.
To catch folks up, the House voted down a measure authorizing our involvement in Libya. A threat to cut off funding failed. But the words from GOP members who have suddenly found a war operation they don't like was astounding. Here is Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, via HuffPo:
“I think the message from Congress is not only is Libya not authorized, we don’t want to fund it. Period.”
All of this made me ask, just how much involvement do we have in Libya anyhow? We are supporting NATO, meaning we are actually going along with a real "Coalition of the Willing." We are primarily providing air support. We have not sent in an Osama bin Laden-like team of seals to storm Gadaffi's palaces.
In fact, we have yet to see a single American military casualty result in this involvement. Check this list of military deaths reported by the Department of Defense. You will see we are continuing to lose soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq on a regular basis, even though the intended goals of those military operations, meaning the ouster of Saddam Hussein and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, have already been accomplished.
In other words, our involvement in the Libyan conflict is largely symbolic. Certainly, people have died in Libya, but it has mostly been the forced on both sides of this civil war. But we simply haven't paid a major price in American blood.
Compare the rhetoric from the GOP regarding this bloodless war to the caustic attacks against the left when resistance was expressed regarding operations in Iraq, which are still costing lives eight years later. Ann Coulter, who has criticized Libya involvement, thinks our involvement in both Libya and Egypt has been wrong-headed, and thinks the strange thing is that Democrats support these bloodless operations while opposing the incredibly costly attack in Iraq. Back then, she wrote a book called Treason about how unpatriotic it was to oppose a president's military ambitions, ever.
But she is just a pundit. What did officials say back then?
Well, here is Kevin Brady (see above) on President Bush's plans in Iraq, via The Political Guide:
"If our military leaders need the extra troops in Baghdad then Congress needs to back them. I have concerns about where we find the troops to build strength in Iraq because our soldiers and families are stretched awfully thin already.
But there can only be one Commander-in-Chief. If Congress starts interfering in battlefield decisions or refuses to fund our troops this war is lost. The consequences will be tragic."
Pretty funny, huh?
Republicans support war when they control the White House and oppose it when Democrats control the White House.
Republicans support war if it means our soldiers get killed for political reasons in efforts which produce only negative change in the Middle East and hurt our interests abroad, but oppose it when America is part of an internationally-backed effort and when no American lives are placed in danger.
Maybe the problem is that Democrats just aren't as good at jingoism. Honestly, most liberal anti-war groups have maintained opposition to Libya, refusing to succomb to the hypocracy that remains the core value of the modern GOP. Barack Obama has never attacked those who oppose his policies as un-American. We don't have politicians calling for boycotts of pop stars who are critical of the president. We simply haven't deployed the same fear-mongering machine that Bush used to guilt Americans into supporting wrong-headed actions of yore.
I have a feeling the right will get their comeuppance. I won't count on there never being an American soldier killed in the Libyan conflict, but at this rate this will be a much lower casualty conflict that accomplishes regime change much faster. Obama will be able to campaign two years from now on a military success that did not result in innumerable deaths, and did not paper every front page in America with stories of local soldiers whose lives were lost for reasons both distant and unclear.
But regardless of one's feelings on this conflict, it seems quite clear right now that Congressmen like Brady never have cared about the lives of our troops or the reasoning for our wars. They certainly didn't care about executive overreach when a Republican did it, and therefore don't really care at all.
All they care about is disgracing Obama. They disgrace themselves and their offices instead.