Friday, October 28, 2011

Good Versus Bad War

I know I lack the "nuance" gene because I fail to appreciate the deep differences between a "good" war and a "bad" war.

Iraq was an illegal war of choice despite being backed by UN resolutions unfulfilled by Saddam and a new one, plus a Congressional declaration of war (authorization to use force).

Libya was an exercise in responsibility to protect without a declaration of war and without a UN resolution authorizing regime change. Indeed, the Obama administration said it was not even a "war", and so exempt from the War Powers Resolution requirement to report to Congress.

President Bush "lied" about the reason to go to war with Iraq (WMD), even though every major intelligence agency believed Iraq had active programs and stocks of chemical weapons (our CIA said it was a "slam dunk" certainty); and even though our declaration of war listed many more reasons than WMD to go to war. Add to this that Saddam was poised to restart chemical and other WMD programs as soon as sanctions slipped sufficiently, with the apparatus still in place to develop, design, and manufacture chemical weapons and other WMD.

President Obama took the Arab League request for a "no-fly" zone to keep Khaddafi's planes from bombing civilians, used it to get a UN Security Council Resolution allowing the bombing of Khaddafi targets to protect civilians, and then used that to ultimately train, arm, organize, and advise the rebels to achieve regime change, using NATO planes as their air force. The toll of lives lost from Khaddafi's air force is unclear and may not have been very much. This was not lying us into war.

Iraq was a bloody mess, with somewhere over 120,000 Iraqi civilian casualties over 8.5 years, or about 14,000 per year.

Libya was a pristine immaculate intervention where we limited our intervention to avoid civilian casualties, with--for argument's sake since the toll is uncertain--15,000 civilian deaths (few from NATO air strikes, to be sure) from all war causes over 7 months. That's over 25,000 on an annual basis. In a country with a quarter of the population of Iraq. Which means that the Libyans endured a toll about 7 times as intense as Iraq.

After the death of Khaddafi, who was captured and shot on the battlefield, we are celebrating mission accomplished.

After Saddam was captured, tried for his crimes, and executed by the Iraqis, we fretted over the manner of his death and how it would prolong the "quagmire."

Iraq's three major regions (Kurdish north, Shia south, and Sunni Arab center and west (broadly speaking, with mixing in the center, of course) can't get along and needed the iron hand of Saddam to hold the artificial state of Iraq together.

Libya's eastern, western, and southern tribal factions will work together in a democratic transitional government, even though Libya is an artificial state.

Bush was a reckless cowboy for saying about Baathist insurgents in summer 2003, "Bring 'em on" if they wanted to challenge the new Iraq (What was he supposed to do? Quake in his boots or show confidence?)

Our chief diplomat said of Khaddafi's death, "We came, we saw, he died." Crickets continue to chirp loudly.

Look. I'm satisfied that getting rid of the Khaddafi regime was a victory for the good guys. But so too was getting rid of Saddam's regime. I'm just a little bitter that our Left and media treat the two so differently because President Obama led one and President Bush led the other.

Me? I'll support staying engaged long enough to cement our battlefield victory in Libya. Because that's what I want in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because that's what you should do when we go to war. Will the Left and the media remain supportive when the going gets tough?

That was rhetorical, of course. The question answers itself.

UPDATE: Thanks to Stones Cry Out for the link. Also, how could I have forgotten the fluffiest of fluffy excuses to hate the bad Iraq War? "No blood for oil (in Iraq)." Again, tip to Stones Cry Out. Libya must have much better oil--environmentally speaking.