September 3, 2013

"How the U.S. Left is Failing Over Syria."

Interested in how consistent the anti-war left has been about Obama's military adventures, I ran across this Counterpunch piece by Shamus Cooke:
It’s now painfully clear that Obama’s war on Syria is a replay of Bush’s march to war in Iraq, both built on lies. Zero evidence has been put forth that proves the Syrian government used chemical weapons. On the contrary, evidence has been collected that suggests the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels are responsible for the attack.

If Obama wages an aggressive attack on Syria — especially without UN authorization — he’ll be committing a major international crime that will, by any standard, make him a war criminal, just like Bush before him.

And because Obama’s attack on Syria followed Bush’s logic, you’d assume that liberal, progressive, and other Left groups would do what they did when Bush went to war: denounce it unconditionally and organize against it.
Of course, this isn't happening.

ADDED: Cooke says: "Every head of state that is targeted by the U.S. government must be portrayed as an inspiring 'Hitler,' since attacking a nation led by 'Hitler' is, of course, a 'good' thing to do."

And sure enough, here's John Kerry today, doubling down on Assad is Hitler: "Secretary of State John Kerry told House Democrats that the United States faced a 'Munich moment' in deciding whether to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government."

47 comments:

MadisonMan said...

But...but...but...he won a Peace Prize!

Daniel5000 said...

I know it is fun to point out the perceived hypocrisy of the anti-war left, but if you cannot see the difference between the Iraq war and the limited action contemplated here, it makes me wonder about your abilities as a federal jurisdiction professor. After all, don't you need to distinguish cases with far more nuance than these? Can you not see a principled distinction between these two cases, and the options considered? I commend you on the healthy dose of willful ignorance you exhibit in order to provoke discussion.

tim in vermont said...

What a carnival of dunces.

Jim Gust said...

Per Rush Limbaugh today, we may have intel suggesting that some rebels were tipped off ahead of the gas attack. The attack may have been intended to draw in the US and other western forces.

Rocketeer said...

I'm amused by the left's inconsistency here. I'm further amused by the fact that, to me at least, Bush's approach to Iraq* is being thoroughly and unwittingly rehabilitated by this whole mess. The rehabilitation is accelerated by guys like Cooke: the louder they bray about Obama being "just like Bush!!111!!1!) the more obvious it is that no, he is not just like Bush, who willingly went to Congress and sought UN approval every step of the way.

*I don't think I'm peddling too quack a theory by noting that there have been credible rumors for years about the provenance of Syria's WMDs originating from Iraq immediately pre-war, with the Russian military serving as enthusiastic intermediary.

Daniel5000 said...

I know it is fun to point out the perceived hypocrisy of the anti-war left, but if you cannot see the difference between the Iraq war and the limited action contemplated here, it makes me wonder about your abilities as a federal jurisdiction professor. After all, don't you need to distinguish cases with far more nuance than these? Can you not see a principled distinction between these two situations, and the options considered?

damikesc said...

I love how not intervening when loathsome forces are slaughtering one another en masse is just like Munich.

It's like the Iran/Iraq War. The best thing that can happen, for Western interests, is for this to continue indefinitely and drain Iran in the process.

Meade (and several other's) comment is appropriate: Sen Kerry, who should the first to ask to die for a mistake?

Ann Althouse said...

"I know it is fun to point out the perceived hypocrisy of the anti-war left, but if you cannot see the difference between the Iraq war and the limited action contemplated here, it makes me wonder about your abilities as a federal jurisdiction professor. After all, don't you need to distinguish cases with far more nuance than these? Can you not see a principled distinction between these two situations, and the options considered?"

1. What position did I even take other than to note that the left is having an internal conflict?

2. I can see distinctions that would make Iraq more justifiable: Notably, we were in the middle of a long-running conflict that began when Saddam invaded Kuwait, violating another country's sovereignty. That needed to be resolved, and we were already enforcing a no-fly zone, so Bush's step was not the intrusion on the country's sovereignty. Also, obviously, Bush got an international coalition behind him. And: The national security angle was stronger than it seems to be here.

3. Your comment is phrased with such jackassery. Why don't you see how that makes you look?

Tibore said...

Well, the leftist who wrote that Counterpunch column is certainly against it.

That said, the reasoning given is effete and ineffectual. That column demonstrates a very much head-stuck-up-his-rear-end view of the world. While he's at least consistent at applying the same measure to Obama that he did to Bush, you can't help but see that he'd view any US action involving the military as being unjustified. Anyone oblivious enough to write: "And although opinion is certainly divided over Assad, those in the U.S. wishing to stop an aggressive war must focus on the actions of their own country" certainly doesn't know how to handle context and genuinely compare and judge situations. Using the weasel words about focusing "on the actions of their own country" obscures the reality about the US having far less a malicious intent and far more overestimating their ability to use force for positive change. I don't recall the US rolling out anything worse than tear gas for opposing masses, and I certainly don't recall deliberate targeting of entire ethnic and religious populations for military action in recent history. You must go all the way back to the Old West and Army actions against the Native American tribes to even start to just point in the right direction, and much has been learned since then that informs modern morality. Much of it driven by the US themselves, with the same groups - those very Native Americans - being the ones with the freedom and ability to drive that change. By contrast, imagine a minority ethnic or religious group driving a similar introspection in Assad's government. Or Iran's, Syria's ally of convenience regarding Lebanon. It just ain't happening.

So sure, this fellow can get proper praise for being consistent at holding Obama to the same standards as they do Bush. But let's not misunderstand that it's a jaundiced, cynical view to begin with. That man deserves no praise for deliberately erasing the distinction between US actions taken with due care and a terrorist dictator's actions taken with no intent other than selfish powermongering. The reason he's criticizing Obama is because his ultimate goal is to paint the US as being morally reprehensible. Not to merely apply a standard consistently.

Rocketeer said...

I know it is fun to point out the perceived hypocrisy of the anti-war left, but if you cannot see the difference between the Iraq war and the limited action contemplated here, it makes me wonder about your abilities as a federal jurisdiction professor.

Oh, the differences are definitely there, but I argue strongly that the benefit of the comparison does not accrue to the present administration. You know, it can't be overemphasized enough, now that I think of it. The narrative of the last 7 years is being put on its head by Obama. Turns out the bigger action is looking like it will be the one remembered as the most prudently adopted, and that the "limited" one will be remembered as having been pursued willy-nilly and with little coherence of thought or action.

What was in fact the rationale behind the Iraq War? An honest person must admit that, wrong though Bush may (decided emphasis on "may") have been on Iraqi WMD*, it was in fact rooted in intelligence that was provided and believed not just by us, but collaboratively by every other major partner in the enterprise, The path to war was taken in measured steps, approved by Congress and the UN, with the diplomatic effort very much led by a hands on, Ivy-league-educated president who it turns out was a foreign policy genius, and who was his own man.

And what is the proposed Syria strike based on? An ill-thought-out, off-the-cuff red line created on the spur of the moment by a man who, despite his impeccable academic pedigree, turns out to be an incompetent cowboy president with daddy issues trying to sound and act "tough", going it alone based on poorly sourced and questionable intelligence provided exclusively by affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood.

*Again, I will not be shocked in the least to learn at some point in the future that we're looking at them in Syria, right now.

Rocketeer said...

Oops, I see Althouse just said what I wanted to much more concisely.

tim in vermont said...

Daniel5000

I notice that you did not provide any supporting evidence for your position. Instead your post followed the perfect liberal template of "Reject first, ask rhetorical questions later."

tim in vermont said...

Oh, I get Daniel5000's argument now. This is going to be a "cakewalk." Not like Iraq, and all possible consequences of it have been foreseen by the the great one because he is so smart.

LawGuy5000 said...

Professor Althouse,

Do you acknowledge there is an enormous difference between a limited air action and a ground invasion. Moreover, even if you disagree with the distinction made between Iraq and Syria (and in fact find the case for intervention in Iraq more persuasive), I cannot see how you can be blind to the obvious, principled, distinction one can make between the two situations. Instead you prefer to hurl the accusation of "hypocrite," where it is really unfounded here.

LawGuy5000 said...

Professor Althouse,

Do you acknowledge there is an enormous difference between a limited air action and a ground invasion. Moreover, even if you disagree with the distinction made between Iraq and Syria (and in fact find the case for intervention in Iraq more persuasive), I cannot see how you can be blind to the obvious, principled, distinction one can make between the two situations in good faith. Instead you prefer to hurl the accusation of "hypocrite"(although it may not be the worst fear that can ever be hurled).

LawGuy5000 said...

"1. What position did I even take other than to note that the left is having an internal conflict?"

You imply the left is hypocritical. Do you not think that implication is clear, or do you believe you simply noted the left is having an internal conflict? Perhaps I read too much into your posting(s).

Cedarford said...

Daniel 5000 is trying to split hairs with "little wars" that cause less casualties and cost many billions less that Obama wants to get into, that are excusable by the Left somehow because they are not "bigger Bush-evil type wars".

Similar to Lefty hair-splitting on Obama whacking the Lefts beloved "innocent enemy civilians" being OK - because "Bush forced him to stay and whack those innocent enemy civilians."

Hagar said...

Saddam Hussein was also consistently violating the conditions of the 1991 ceasefire and I think, at least a couple of later U.N. resolutions, so George W. did not need, and in my opinion should not have, sought any more such, as all they that has done is to give the left opportunities to obfuscate and confuse the people as to the facts of the case.

George W. gave the Husseins a clear choice: Cut it out, or we are coming in.

He should have left it that simple for the wold to see too.

Robert Cook said...

"Can you not see a principled distinction between these two cases, and the options considered?"

There is no such distinction.

Robert Cook said...

Regarding Iraq, we gave Hussein our implied permission to attack Kuwait, when Ambassdor Glaspie told him we had "no opinion" on private conflicts between the Arab states. Being a long term willing puppet and accomplice of the United States, he understandably felt he had been given a green light by his paymasters.

It's forgotten--and was little reported at the time--when Bush demanded Hussein remove his forces from Kuwait post haste or face American intervention, Hussein communicated he was willing to work it out. Bush ignored him. (Hussein had what appears to have been valid beef with Kuwait, as they were slant drilling down into Iraqi oil fields and withdrawing their oil and were undercutting him on prices.)

The fix was in...the US wanted to go to war against Iraq. The tales promulgated of Iraqi soldiers bayonetting Kuwaiti babies in their incubabors were later revealed to be lies. This is not about whether Hussein was a good guy...or not a bad guy...he most certainly was a very bad guy. But we were very happy to ally with him for years...until we weren't. (We've been happy to ally ourselves with bad guys and murderers for years; any notion that we are paragons of virtue in the world who act from concern for innocents at peril is childish nonsense.)

CWJ said...

Did Cooke really say "inspiring Hitler" rather than "aspiring Hitler?". Why yes, yes he did. Doofus!

Bob Ellison said...

Kerry is also doubling down on "we are nuanced". He told Congress today that it was a "Munich moment", I guess referring to the Munich Pact of 1938, right? Wherein Western Europe sold out Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler. Or maybe he meant the Munich Massacre, in which Palestinian terrorists murdered Israeli athletes.

No, Occam's Razor suggests simply that Kerry is too ignorant and stupid to know what he means. But he was nuanced, so nuanced in front of Congress today. He said Obama wants support from Congress to strike Syria, but Congress's support doesn't actually matter. Kerry said no boots on the ground, but that could change, like Obama's nuanced mind.

Marty Keller said...

". . . if you cannot see the difference between the Iraq war and the limited action contemplated here."

A further hilarious piece of jackassery is his credulous acceptance of the "limited action contemplated here" trope. Yeah, just like the Gulf of Tonkin resolutions that promised limited action in Vietnam. Oh, right, that was another Democrat president, wasn't it? Only true believers can ignore history and still take The One at his word.

Sheesh.

Lonetown said...

Bush got UN approval as well, right? Much to the chagrin of Hans Blix. Then we sent in Scott Ritter to make the case who after turning on the admin was accused of childs porn possession.

Wow

Alexander Ignatiev said...

Hitler, himself a victim of chemical weapons, opponent of assault rifles, and exterminator of Jews.

Beorn said...

Can you not see a principled distinction between these two situations[...]?

Yes, one war was started by a guy I voted for, and the other was started by a guy I didn't vote for.

Rocketeer said...

Yeah, just like the Gulf of Tonkin resolutions that promised limited action in Vietnam. Oh, right, that was another Democrat president, wasn't it?

If Lyndon Johnson had a son, he would look like Barack.

Ann Althouse said...

" Instead you prefer to hurl the accusation of "hypocrite," where it is really unfounded here."

Quote me.

Where did I hurl the accusation?

Ann Althouse said...

I'm trying to smoke out the lefties (and to divide them into subcategories).

There are the real partisans who opposed Bush because he was GOP and who support Obama because he's Democratic.

There are the idealistic peaceniks.

What else is there?

Where is Code Pink, for example?

I'm just using the occasion to get some clarity. I want to distinguish the partisans from the idealists.

Ann Althouse said...

"Do you acknowledge there is an enormous difference between a limited air action and a ground invasion."

Yes, but which way does it cut?

Lobbing in a stray bomb now and then to make a statement? Is it any wonder the people on the receiving end hate us and resolve to use whatever tools they have at hand?

Ann Althouse said...

Do you like the argument based on our power to make only their people die?

We're safe, because we're rich and well-equipped. And you are screwed.

Why would that deter the use of chemical weapons?

Why is that ethical?

heyboom said...

Do you acknowledge there is an enormous difference between a limited air action and a ground invasion.

About that ground invasion:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/03/john-kerry-boots-on-the-ground_n_3861860.html

harrogate said...

"There are the real partisans who opposed Bush because he was GOP and who support Obama because he's Democratic.

There are the idealistic peaceniks.

What else is there?"

That's an awful oversimplification of available positions. I mean, come on. Only an "idealistic peacenik" would be opposed to the Iraq invasion and the current proposal to begin bombing Syria?

How about allowing for reasonable opposition to both? After all, it's not like any reasonable person would suggest that the case for either was/is without significant flaws.

An "idealistic peacenik," as I understand it, would be someone who would never support military action for any reason. That's not the same as calling b.s. on several wars in a row.

Paul Zrimsek said...

(We've been happy to ally ourselves with bad guys and murderers for years; any notion that we are paragons of virtue in the world who act from concern for innocents at peril is childish nonsense.)

Chomskyoids are actually perfectly cool with the idea of fighting a war for oil... just so long as it's not the US doing it.

David said...

Althouse: "I'm just using the occasion to get some clarity. I want to distinguish the partisans from the idealists."

The cowards are a force too. And the fashionable narcissists.

Hagar said...

A "limited air strike" is still an act of war, and I am very puzzled as to why Democrats think that they are entitled to do that sort of thing whenever they disapprove of someone just because they are Democrats and their hearts are pure.

Robert Cook said...

"Bush got UN approval as well, right? Much to the chagrin of Hans Blix."

No, the UN did not approve our invasion of Iraq. One reason it was illegal. That it was founded and sold on lies on lies doesn't help.

"Then we sent in Scott Ritter to make the case who after turning on the admin was accused of childs porn possession."

No. He was charged and convicted of "unlawful contact with a minor." He masturbated in front of his computer cam and talked dirty with a police operative he thought was a 15 year old girl. He had engaged in similar behavior before and been given a second chance. It's creepy and unsavory and criminal but not the same as possessing child porn. Neither does it impeach his debunking of Bush's claims for Iraq's having had WMD. In that respect, Ritter's work was proven accurate.

jr565 said...

Daniel wrote:
"I know it is fun to point out the perceived hypocrisy of the anti-war left, but if you cannot see the difference between the Iraq war and the limited action contemplated here, it makes me wonder about your abilities as a federal jurisdiction professor. After all, don't you need to distinguish cases with far more nuance than these? Can you not see a principled distinction between these two situations, and the options considered?"
It is fun to point out the hypocrisy be ause its so blatant.
But do you want me to point out a principled difference? the principled difference is that Iraq had 15 resolutions against it already. We had already gone through the containment, and the no fly zones and the mutiple bombings and military actions on our part. And we already knew about the gassing of the Kurds, and the mass graves. And we had already passed the Iraq Liberation Act which called for regime change in Iraq, and which was US policy by the time Bush took office.

Iraq had already been put in the box for doing what Syria jut did, over a much longer period of time and we had already said we would punish Iraq. Syria is a festering Iraq 10 years after we said we'd remove the dictator not removing the dictator and having to deal with the problem of or removing him.

Paul said...

Amazing how Obama as become a Bush... an inept Bush, but a Bush no less.

But Bush attacked Iraq because of Saddam's violation of UN resolutions on WMD. There are no such resolutions involving Syria.

Thus there will be no 40 nations joining the U.S. in this.

The only thing Obama is trying to save is his own face. He, himself has admitted no objective as for the overthrow of the Syrian government nor forcing them to relinquish their WMDs.

William said...

I was one of those people who thought Saddam had chemical WMD and that the people of Iraq would greet us as liberators. My bad. The thing about the Middle East is that no one, not the rulers nor the people they rule, act in their rational self interest. Assad and the people he rules are fools. I think Assad used poison gas, and by doing so he definitely crossed a line. Why that line is redder than killing 100,00 plus people and creating a million plus refugees I leave for minds as nuanced as John Kerry's to parse. But Assad is over the line and some action should be taken against him.........I'm uncertain of the action and know for certain that President Obama doesn't either. But we go into action with the President we have and not the President we would like. I would support the President in this and do so knowing that there will be unintended consequences. There is, to name just one, a greater likelihood that Assad will use WMD because of limited US action. That's the way those assholes think......Anyway, I'm consistent and not hypocritical. That's not as good as being right, but it's something.

somefeller said...

There are the real partisans who opposed Bush because he was GOP and who support Obama because he's Democratic. There are the idealistic peaceniks. What else is there?

The realists who see that neither side in Syria appears to be all that great and worthy of US support are another option, and one that is well-represented on the left (and the right, for that matter). Being against a specific war because it looks like it will be a clusterfuck doesn't make one an antiwar peacenik.

Gahrie said...

The solution is to invoke the Ryan Doctrine. Whenever a regimer uses WMD, you take out the regime's leadship. We send a cruise missile through Assad's window, and President Obama goes on TV that night and says:"The same thing will happen to the next person to authorize the use of WMDs. Goodnight."

Jason said...

These idiots talk about "limited action" as if it were a feature, not a bug. But a limited action is far dumber than an unlimited action, because there's no policy payoff. We take on the risk of provoking Iran to launching an attack on Israel...(Having said they would, they are every bit as committed to that course of action as Obama is to attacking Syria, for the same reason - maintaining credibility).. with no upside.

What is the objective here? It's a basic principle of war, Objective. It's one of the Nine Principles of War taught to every officer in the U.S. military. But yesterday, our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had no idea what our objective was.

This is a problem.

The Armed Forces are being dragged kicking and screaming into this conflict. You can't read the tea leaves? They know something about the ineptitude and fecklessness of the National Command Authority that you don't.

This is a problem, too.

"Limited actions" have a way of not staying very limited, as Bush and Clinton found out in Somalia and Johnson found out after Da Nang.

The whole world is now inside the incompetent Obama's OODA-loop. This is a problem.

Syria has already moved their chem stocks in among civilians, or moved human shields on top of likely targets. Obama could have short-circuited this by not telegraphing his punches and if he wanted a limited strike to 'send a message,' he should have done so first, and then talked about it as a done deal, before anyone else had time to react.

We don't even have the UK on board on this one (though why they would trust Obama to back up their flyers if one went down is beyond me.

Plus, Syria isn't the root problem. Iran is. We should be keeping our powder dry to clobber the bejeesus out of them, rather than peak our carrier deployments prematurely over this non-issue in Syria.

I would be more inclined to support an UNLIMITED action than a limited one. Only libtard idiots do "limited actions," and they are all stupid, just like the libtards.

Syria will avenge a small attack. They cannot avenge a large one.

Don't tease a rabid dog. Either kill it or leave it alone.

Robert Cook said...

"But Bush attacked Iraq because of Saddam's violation of UN resolutions on WMD."

There were no such violations.

Saddam had destroyed his WMD programs and stockpiles. He had opened up his country to a new UN inspections regime--an inspection that was cut short prematurely when the inspectors were told to leave the country for their own safety as the invasion of Iraq was about to commence. Up to that point, they inspectors had consistently found...no WMD.

We prevented Saddam from being proved to have abided by the UN resolutions on WMD. We did this intentionally for fear that an official certification by the UN Inspectors that Hussein had no WMD would remove the only basis compelling enough to Congress and the American public to win our approval for war. (That's why they fabricated the whole scare story to begin with!)

Robert Cook said...

But do you want me to point out a principled difference? the principled difference is that Iraq had 15 resolutions against it already."

None of which justified invading Iraq, which is why the UN Security Council never approved the war and Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the UN called the invasion "illegal."

We had already gone through the containment, and the no fly zones and the mutiple bombings and military actions on our part."

All of which had worked to cripple Hussein and neuter his (minimal) potential as a threat. In fact, in the many deaths of children and older people in Iraq that resulted from "malnutrition, lack of medical supplies and from lack of clean water,"* (a result our financial and trade embargo of Iraq), we are complicit in mass murder of Iraqis that preceded our mass murder of Iraqis resulting from our invasion and occupation of Iraq.

And we already knew about the gassing of the Kurds, and the mass graves."

Sure, because we gave Hussein the information that allowed him to use gas in Iran and against the Kurds. We assisted him in gassing the Iranians and stood by without protest as he gassed the Kurds, as he was our ally.


And we had already passed the Iraq Liberation Act which called for regime change in Iraq, and which was US policy by the time Bush took office."

As if one nation passing an internal policy to force a regime change in another nation makes it legal. (Hint: it doesn't.)

*(from Wikipedia)

jr565 said...

Robert Cook wrote:
"Saddam had destroyed his WMD programs and stockpiles. He had opened up his country to a new UN inspections regime--an inspection that was cut short prematurely when the inspectors were told to leave the country for their own safety as the invasion of Iraq was about to commence. Up to that point, they inspectors had consistently found...no WMD.

We prevented Saddam from being proved to have abided by the UN resolutions on WMD. We did this intentionally for fear that an official certification by the UN Inspectors that Hussein had no WMD would remove the only basis compelling enough to Congress and the American public to win our approval for war. (That's why they fabricated the whole scare story to begin with!"

How did they fabricate the scare story? And who's THEY? Do you mean Bush or Clinton and the UN?
When all the inspectors left in 1998,what did Clinton do? How was the impression left at that point? i.e. did the world think that Sadaam had disarmed or did Clinton bomb Iraq because it was YET AGAIN not cooperating. When Clinton and congress passed the ILA and demanded regime change was that because they were under the impression that Sadaam had disarmed or not. When the UN passed resolution 1441 giving Sadaam his last chance (kind of like when Obama puts down the red line)was that because they were all under the impression that Sadaam had already disarmed?
THat's ludicrous.
Once inspectors left there were no inspections at all, until Bush brought them back in his term. So there would be no way to determine Sadaam had in fact disarmed. So you have to look at the situation when the last inspections were actually run. And there was no evidence that Sadaam had actually done anything but continue to not cooperate.
Which is why Clinton bombed him.

Even Hans Blix, who didn't want the war, brought up that Sadaam had yet to provide evidence that he had destroyed KNOWN WMD's and stockpiles that we were aware of from the last inspection.

When Sadaam submitted the paperwork about how they were in compliance it was the exact same paperwork from the previous inspection regime and that paper work never answered the question.
And Blix, additionally said, it was not the inspectors job to find those weapons or prove that they were destroyed, it was Sadaam's responsibility to do so.

jr565 said...

paul wrote:
But Bush attacked Iraq because of Saddam's violation of UN resolutions on WMD. There are no such resolutions involving Syria.

and also because of human rights violations. And by the way, the UN used the same justifications when passing their resolutions. And the same justification when Clinton and congresss passed the Iraq Liberation Act.