The United Nations resolution to establish a no-fly zone in Libya has engendered criticism aimed at President Obama from both political parties for his decision to help in the humanitarian effort. On the Democratic side there are complaints that the president declared war on Libya when it is the Congress’s job, and Republicans are upset that Obama did not act unilaterally in deposing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan crisis is a complex issue, but the comparison to George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq is immature, and the Republican complaint that President Obama should have acted sooner is typical of war-mongers like John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Dennis Kucinich has compared American involvement in the U.N.’s no-fly zone over Libya to Bush and the Iraq war which is laughable, if not absurd. Bush used fabricated intelligence to promote the Iraq invasion and conducted the war without U.N. approval for regime change and nation-building. Perhaps Kucinich forgot the start of the Iraq war and Bush’s unilateral invasion when the U.N. failed to support the war. There are myriad differences between Iraq and Libya, but there is one similarity; the Republican controlled Congress gave George W. Bush authority to wage war at his discretion. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and did not repeal the authority when they had the opportunity.
President Obama has not lied, fabricated evidence, misled the country, or declared war unilaterally. In fact, President Obama waited for the Arab League to ask for a no-fly zone, and waited for a unanimous vote by the U.N. Security Council. For either party to attack him for preventing a massacre is immature, and calling it an impeachable offense is drastic; even for Kucinich. Some critics have said that Obama didn’t talk to Congress to tell them America was protecting our interests in Libya, but it seems obvious that stability in the region is of paramount importance to America. Conversely, George W. Bush was interested in Iraqi oil and handing out no-bid contracts to Dick Cheney’s corporation and he certainly did not inform Congress of his objectives.
Republicans have criticized the president for waiting for U.N. authorization and for not going in to depose Gaddafi and install a new government. It is apparent that Republican war-hawks still cannot see the folly of regime-change and nation building. The U.N. sponsored no-fly zone means a measured use of force for the sole purpose of protecting Libyans from being massacred. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the resolution authorizing the use of force is to stop Muammar Gaddafi from “deliberately and indiscriminately killing his own people. Thousands of lives are still at stake. We could well see a further humanitarian emergency.” The U.N. resolution said nothing about all-out use of force to conquer Libya as the Republicans are suggesting.
It is predictable that Republicans are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on war when the country is mired in two protracted conflicts with an economy barely moving forward. Republicans generally enjoy their wars, but their corporate donors and the oil industry love them even more. It is bad enough that Republicans are giving tax breaks to corporations and subsidies to the oil industry, but creating a war to sell oil and build more bombs is an atrocity. Even with a very limited, measured attack on radar and anti-aircraft installations, the cost thus far is enormous.
The cost of one Tomahawk Cruise missile is $1,066,465. The Pentagon reported that the United States fired 112 of the cruise missiles at a cost of $119,444,080 as of Sunday. That amount is the equivalent of hiring 2,388 teachers for $50,000 each for one year. Most entry-level teachers make significantly less than $50,000 a year. That amount would also fund some of programs to feed children that Republicans cut in their budget-slashing frenzy so far this year. The cost of supporting an invading army would be tens-of-billions of dollars per month and there is no telling how many years the conflict would last. The only benefactors of another protracted war are corporations and the oil industry that already benefit from Republican favors.
The unrest in Libya and America’s involvement in providing humanitarian protection is going to have critics and it is important that President Obama has not chosen cowboy diplomacy. He has used discretion and allowed the world community to set the standard for protecting the Libyan people from their dictator. By waiting for the Arab League and United Nations, Obama has not provoked the Arab world with Bush-era imperialism and go-it-alone attitude. The president made a difficult decision, but it was the right decision. No-one likes war (except Republicans), but using force to prevent a massacre is a necessary evil if America is to have any credibility in the world community.
If Republican war-hawks are so anxious to spend billions of dollars to oust a malicious dictator, why are they unwilling to spend a fraction of the billions on teachers or programs that benefit all Americans? Republicans who advocated for an attack on Libya for humanitarian reasons have shown nothing but inhumanity for American citizens.
The American people deserve passionate advocacy from all of their representatives in government, and if legislators would spend as much time and dedication helping Americans as they have criticizing President Obama, America and its citizens would be better for it. There will always be criticism, and when it is constructive, the president welcomes it. Dennis Kucinich will always be against war and that is a credit to his humanity. However, to accuse the president of declaring war like George Bush did is even a bit extreme for Mr. Kucinich. America was involved in the U.N. sanctioned no-fly zone in Bosnia when Bill Clinton was president so Obama’s action is not without precedent.
President Obama has said that America will hand over the lion’s share of the work in Libya within days; not weeks or months. As of Wednesday, the president has reached an agreement to hand over operations to NATO and the coalition. The critics on both sides of the aisle should support the president for helping to prevent a massacre using the least amount of force and assets as possible.
The decision to use force was not taken lightly, and if critics on the left are worried about loss of life; why are they not concerned that Gaddafi is exterminating his own people? The critics on the right need to review the Iraq war and the crippling expense it is burdening our economy with and channel some of their energy to create jobs instead of creating more wealth for their corporate masters. There is one thing about Republicans; they are consistent in their love of war. They have their wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, American middle-class, and now they want a war with Libya. America is fortunate Barack Obama is our President.