Sunday, March 27, 2011

Libya vs. Iraq - Some Thoughts

Did you know that Chimpanzees and Humans share overwhelming similarities in their genetic makeup? Though the percent varies depending on how deep the data goes, the similarities range from the high 70s to the high 90s. In other words, the similarities greatly outweigh the differences on the genetic level, yet the two are so completely different that no rational person taking a holistic view could mistake a Chimp for a Human. Yet, a top scientist locked in a room with only the two genetic codes in front of him could toil through a majority of the genetic code before finding any significant differences!

The point of this is simply to repeat the ancient observation that little can be understood about the true nature of things by examining their similarities; only by understanding their differences do we really get to know them.

The cartoon I recently posted comparing Libya vs. Iraq is a good example of the futility of focusing on similarities, or for that matter, the petty differences. As many commenters have pointed out, the cartoon, and those who liked it, cannot make a strong enough case that the two conflicts are comparable. Of course, the cartoon is limited to being a caricature of hypocrisy, ignorance and irrational devotion. It is not meant to argue a case that the two conflicts are equivalent. However, the nature of caricature is that it only works through exaggeration and that has resulted in quite the debate among viewers which has shed much heat but little light. (Also some funny stuff and some really nasty stuff too!)

So what do I think? Are these two wars comparable and if not what are the salient differences? For me, they are not comparable actions in their essence. Iraq was about trying to save American lives by enforcing something which came to be known as “The Bush Doctrine”, and Libya is about trying to save non-American lives on one side of a civil war by enforcing something known as UN 1973.

You may agree or disagree with “The Bush Doctrine” and the threats posed by the Iraqi regime, but your representatives in Washington voted for it overwhelmingly and that is what Democracy in a Republic looks like. Deal with it.

As for UN 1973, you may agree or disagree with it, but your representatives in Washington have no say in it whatsoever. That is what Global Totalitarianism looks like. Deal with it.


  1. I watched your video and thought it had many valid points. It's funny how people view each other on different sides of this whole matter. My question to you is how you believe American lives were saved due to our actions in Iraq? Thanks

  2. @anonymous, my reading of the so-called "Bush Doctrine" is that it was a strategic approach to discouraging nations from supporting terror against the US.

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  4. UN 1973 is a resolution of the UN Security Council. The US is a permanent member of the Security Council with veto power. I think that 1) this gives the US government a huge (some would say "disproportionate") say in the content of UN 1973, and 2) that's a long way from Global Totalitarianism. If UN security resolutions represent global totalitarianism, then how on earth do you characterize the WTO, the IMF, and worst of the bunch, NYMEX (the oil futures market)?

  5. One of our Representatives in Washington is named Barack Obama. He seems to have been somewhat involved in the decision. That's part of a Democracy.

    Its not clear that this is a "war" and it is not clear what exactly the Constitution deliniates as the separate powers - Congress is given the power to 'declare war' while the President is 'Commander-in-Chief'. This action is very similar to the actions in Kosovo that never had any Congressional authorization beforehand. The Korean War also never got official Congressional authorization. Lastly, even if you believe the War Powers Resolution is Constitutional, then the President may send armed forces into a country for 60 days prior to getting authorization. This is, at least theoretically, supposed to be a non-military humanitarian mission with security overtones. Also comparable is the no-fly zone over Iraq between 1991 and 2002.

  6. @Phil Gallagher, Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Good point. I actually took out the word "will" from the final version of this post. The sentence originally read: "That's what global totalitarianism "will" look like." Didn't think it was necessary since I thought "look like" gave it enough distance so as not to veer into hyperbole. Wrong choice? Perhaps. As for WTO, IMF, UNICEF, etc., the UN has a role but I draw the line at blowing things up. I would like to see military actions on our part be at least discussed with congressional leaders beforehand, if a a vote is not practical. I may be in the minority though...

  7. @Anonymous, Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I've got a deal for you; If I can pay a small part of my taxes, I'll settle for a small part of a Democracy!

  8. Here are some more historically accurate points. Entertaining video, but it's not really very educational considering the contexts. It's easy to pull the parts that confirm your world viewpoint. I'd challenge all of us to try to see the valid arguments on both sides though.

    Seeing the world in black and white leaves everybody blind.

  9. I'll admit that our current involvement in enforcement of U.N. Resolution 1973 presents a foreign policy conundrum of sorts vis-à-vis the manner in which dissidents are being dealt with in Syria and Yemen, for example. The world is a complicated place, and the particular situation in Libya is a confluence of history, the moment, and the wave of change that is sweeping through the Maghreb and Middle East. It is what it is, and our rationale for getting involved is at least honest and aboveboard -- we want to nurture the rising democratization of Libya, we want to afford the agents of that change enough breathing room to move the process forward before they, and thousands of other innocents, are slaughtered, and we want Gadhaffi gone in the bargain. The president has been very straightforward in articulating those motives and aims. To make the case advanced by the man in the youtube video -- viz., that there is no fundamental difference between the circumstances that gave rise to our involvement in the Libya operation and the circumstances that gave rise to our invasion of Iraq -- belies the simple and indisputable fact that the rationale for invading Iraq had nothing at all to do with supporting the nascent democratization of a nation or protecting that nation's people from a murderous tyrant.

    The pretext -- repeat for emphasis: pretext -- for invading Iraq was, as the historical record conclusively shows, the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Period. Full stop. I emphasize 'pretext' because the preponderance of pre-invasion intelligence clearly suggested that, in fact, Iraq had long since abandoned its WMD programs, and that neither WMD facilities nor materiel were in evidence or likely to be found. There was another agenda, however. Then-Governor George W. Bush told a top campaign strategist in 2000 that every great American president needed a war whereby he could make his bones as a leader, and that, for him, the invasion of Iraq would be that war. Months before, Dick Cheney was already meeting with exiled Iraqi political leaders, sounding out their will to repatriate and form a new government in the wake of an American invasion of their native land. Bush and Cheney quietly declared war on Iraq more than six months before they were sworn in to office -- the Iraqi WMD ruse, and the Cheney-inspired specter of a mushroom cloud coming soon to a community near you and me, was one of the greatest propaganda victories in all of post-WWII history.

    The 2003 invasion of Iraq became the 'liberation' of Iraq only after it became patently obvious that the original pretext -- eliminating Iraq's WMD capability -- was complete bollocks, a fact that the Bush administration knew long before the boots of an American invasion force ever made their way on to Iraqi soil. Invading Iraq was about forging the legacy of a feckless and reckless president as a great war-time leader -- Bush found the 'humanitarian' and 'democratization' missions when the wraps came off of the WMD ruse, and by then it was too late to make good on even that mission, our invasion force and troop-strength commitment being woefully short of that necessary to securing the country and protecting the populace from the blood-letting that followed. The man should be warming a bench in a federal penitentiary. I don't know if President Obama is awesome, but I do know that he's no George W. Bush.

  10. @Anon.,So.....Bush lied, people died?
    Think about this: a man you consider to be an incompetent, illiterate, primate, somehow bamboozled Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore, and Joe Biden along with the entire legislative branch of the US govt. into fighting a ground war in Iraq and sacrificing thousands of US soldiers, just so he could advance his legacy? Does that sound plausable to you? Really? Is Bush an evil genius, or a flaming moron? You are free to pick one.

  11. That is funny Anon.. you should run for office. Lots of words and little facts..yup I think Obama has some open jobs for you. BTW had you listened to Iraq's #2 who is BTW the only Christian in the Muslim encampment because Saddam felt he could "trust" his words as truth, actually on record said yes we had things the Americans were looking for but did move them because the Americans would let us know where and when they were coming...VIA THE MEDIA.. but that will make no difference in your mind why? because Obama is good, he is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who would never start a war..he is good. LOL