Just so we’re all clear:
The seas of people who thronged Cairo’s Tahrir Square are gone now. But walking across its now-celebrated ground this week, I couldn’t help but remember the inspiring scenes of Egyptians from all walks of life peacefully demanding freedom and dignity. The world watched in awe as the protesters and their young leaders changed the direction of a country and, together with Tunisians, perhaps the whole Arab world.
On Monday I shook hands with young Egyptians and listened to them speak of their hopes for their country. At a town-hall meeting I could sense some questioning whether the United States would really be there when it counted. I was proud that our answer came this week in Libya.
Everything I believe about the proper use of American force and the ability of the community of nations to speak with one voice was reaffirmed when the world refused to stand by and accept a bloody final chapter of the uprisings sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East. With a mandate from the Arab League and the Gulf states, the United Nations Security Council approved a limited military intervention to avoid a massacre. Multilateralism may be messy, but it’s powerful when diplomacy pays off.
Make no mistake, neither the U.N. nor any nation should be drawn into military intervention lightly. But there were legitimate reasons for establishing a no-fly zone over Libya and forcing Gadhafi to keep his most potent weapons out of the fight. If you slice through the fog of misinformation and weigh the risks and benefits alongside our values and interests, the justification is clear and compelling.
I wish he had used that as his topic sentence and saved me the bandwidth—but this is John Kerry. The only thing about him longer than his windedness is his face.
It takes a mind more nuanced than mine—not to mention better hair—to see the differences between Libya and Iraq, but I’ll give it a try.
Iraq had invaded or attacked Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Israel (did I miss anyone?). Libya has attacked or invaded nobody.
Qaddafi did set about to massacre his own people, true, but is the French-looking senator seriously going to claim that Saddam didn’t? Kurds ring a bell? Marsh Arabs, anyone? Rape rooms and human chippers?
Saddam was believed to have active nuclear or biochemical weapons programs. He did not, although he did have them on ice, waiting to be reactivated. (And it wasn’t just Bush-Cheney who believed so: many world leaders—and Democrats in Congress and the White House—agreed. Even Saddam’s generals thought so.) Qaddafi did have such a program, but he openly and contritely gave it up after Saddam dangled from the end of a rope.
Saddam had violated 17 or 18 UN resolutions over a period of years; Libya one for only days. Who rushed to war?
I’m not saying I disagree with our going to kinetic military action in Libya, but the assurances of d*ckheads like John Kerry only make me feel absolutely like it’s a huge mistake.
Here’s another stab at it:
[T]he lead-up to Operation Odyssey Dawn took days. As Secretary of Defense Bob Gates conceded, “We haven’t done something like this kind of on-the-fly before.”
But despite the perception that emotion drove the creation of the on-the-fly Libyan no-fly zone, there appears to be an undeniable rationale, if not an actual doctrine, under pinning Obama’s first war. Much of it comes courtesy of the female advisers who reportedly persuaded Obama to take action against Muammar Qaddafi—maybe none more so than Samantha Power. As a journalist and then an academic writing about genocide in the Balkans and Rwanda, Power was an articulate advocate for the concept of humanitarian intervention—a concept, she once lamented to Time, that had been “killed for a generation” by Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Now, as a senior aide on Obama’s National Security Council, Power has been working to rehabilitate humanitarian hawkishness. She’s apparently had some success. As Obama remarked in his Nobel Peace Prize speech in 2009: “I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That’s why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.”
With Libya, humanitarian hawks have found an almost too-good-to-be-true vehicle for this vision. In Qaddafi, the U.S. has an operatically villainous adversary who not only has the blood of Americans on his hands but also the blood of his own citizens, having pledged to Libyans who dare oppose him that his military “will find you in your closets.” From a purely Realpolitik perspective, Qaddafi also gives the U.S. a Muslim foe who—unlike even Saddam Hussein—is not particularly beloved by the Arab street, much less Arab leaders. Which explains why, unlike the war in Iraq, this military intervention is truly multilateral.
Saddam was liked (or at least not unliked) in the Arab world? Really? Did they ask the Saudis and the Kuwaitis? The Iranians and Kurds (not Arabs, I grant)? The marsh dwellers in the South? The odd Shiite?
I will concede the argument that Qaddafi has a lot of American blood on his hands (not least Lockerbie). But then why let him live this long? Anyway, this isn’t being sold as a war—sorry, kinetic military action—to settle scores. Obama has even said Qaddafi could stay if he just stopped slaughtering his people. (Gee, thanks, Barack.)
And Saddam Hussein was a choir boy? Get real!
Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had extensive ties to terrorist organizations, including a “de facto” link to Al Qaeda, according to an official report published by the Pentagon’s Institute for Defense Analyses and released through the Joint Forces Command.
The report, which was based on captured Iraqi documents, came up with some startling revelations:
Saddam’s Iraq trained terrorists for use inside and outside Iraq and in 1999 sent 10 terrorist-training graduates to London to carry out attacks throughout Europe. (Pages 1-2)
Saddam’s Iraq stockpiled munitions (including explosives, missile launchers and silencer-equipped small arms) at its embassies in the Middle East, Asia and parts of Europe. (Pages 3-4)
The Iraqi Intelligence Service conducted research into developing car bombs, suicide vests, bombs camouflaged in books and diplomatic bags, and improvised explosives using “materials in the current market.” (Pages 5-7)
In September of 2001, Saddam’s Iraq sought out and compiled a list of 43 suicide-bomb volunteers in a “Martyrdom Project.” (Pages 7-11)
The report contains language from a captured Iraqi document which references an attempted assassination of Danielle Mitterand, wife of French President Francois Mitterand, by car bomb. (Page 11)
The report’s authors describe Saddam’s Iraq as a “long-standing supporter of international terrorism” including several organizations designated as international terrorist organizations by the US State Department. Among the organizations that captured Iraqi documents indicate were supported are: Fatah-Revolutionary Council (Abu Nidal Organization), Palestine Liberation Front (led by Abu Abbas), Renewal and Jihad Organization, Islamic Ulama Group, Afghani Islamic Party, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad (founded and led by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri this organization later merged with al-Qaeda). (Pages 13-15)
Captured documents show that Saddam’s Iraq was training non-Iraqis in Iraqi training camps a decade before Operation Desert Storm, including fighters from the following nations: Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Eritrea, and Morroco. (Pages 15-16)
A captured memorandum shows that Saddam’s Iraq had an agreement with an Islamist terrorist group to conduct operations against Egypt during the first Gulf War. (Page 16)
A detailed, captured document from 1993 “illuminated how the outwardly secular Saddam regime found common cause with terrorist groups who drew their inspiration from radical Islam.” (Page 17)
In January 1993, as the American military’s humanitarian mission was begun in Somalia, Saddam directed that Iraq “form a group to start hunting Americans present on Arab soil, especially Somalia.” (Page 18) Interestingly, Osama Bin Laden was setting up identical operations at the same time.
Saddam’s secret intelligence service (IIS) hosted 13 conferences in 2002 for various terrorist groups. (Page 19)
Captured Iraqi documents say that the IIS issued passports to known members of terrorist groups. (Page 19)
Saddam’s Iraq had close ties and provided funding to Hamas, the Palestinian jihadist organization. Captured documents indicate that Hamas offered to carry out attacks for Saddam’s Iraq in return for his support. In fact, Hamas representatives informed the Iraqis that the organization had 35 armed cells around the world hidden among refugees, including in France, Sweden and Denmark. (Pages 24-25).
The Iraqi Intelligence Service manufactured bombs during the early 1990s for the terrorist Abu Abbas to conduct attacks against American and other interests. Many of the attacks were failures. According to the report, a bomb intended to destroy the American ambassador’s residence in Jakarta, Indonesia failed. In another instance, bombs designed to destroy the American Airlines office and Japanese embassy in the Philippines exploded prematurely and damaged only the front of the office, while killing one and wounding another of the terrorists transporting the explosives. (Page 30)
Saddam’s Iraq carried out terrorist attacks on members of humanitarian organizations operating in the Kurdish areas of Northern Iraq, including Doctors Without Borders, Handicap International and UN-affiliated organizations. (Pages 31-33)
The IIS was willing to reach out to jihadist terrorist groups, including those known to be affiliated with Al Qaeda. This includes the “Army of Muhammad” in Bahrain, which had threatened Kuwaiti authorities and had plans to attack American and Western interests. (Pages 35-36)
The report concludes with the following question: “Is there anything in the captured archives to indicate that Saddam had the will to use his terrorist capabilities directly against the United States?” The Institute for Defense Analyses then provides the answer: Yes. (Page 45)
Okay, fine, a lot of Saddam’s terrorist interests supported killing Israelis (including rewards of $25,000 to the “martyr’s” family, if memory serves). But it’s not a stretch to conclude, as the report does, that his ambitions were even larger.
Besides, 294 American servicemen died in the first Gulf War. He still had to answer for them.
To hear these intellectually bankrupt egg-heads tell it, war is not only the answer, it’s always the answer—except in Iraq! Whether by persuasion of Stephanie Powers or Samantha Power, Obama’s a believer. Take a number Syria, Darfur, Congo, Burma, et al ad nauseam we’re coming for you.
And you too, China. If “inaction tears at our conscience”, you people shred it like laundry. His terrible swift sword will be coming down on your head sooner or later.
If Obama’s defenders and enablers are to be believed.
I love a man of kinetic… military… action.