Well then, that didn't take long... in near-record time, the right wing pulled a complete about-face on their take of what's happening in Libya. Why? Because President Obama got involved, that's why! Yesterday, they were asking why President Obama hasn't done anything yet to help the people of Libya, who asked for our assistance. What are they screaming about today? "Constitution!" "Domestic problems!" Oh, and aren't we in two wars already? Sure, they voted for the guy who started those wars, and they supported those wars right up to Inauguration Day in 2009, and they didn't seem to care as much about the Constitution or our domestic issues when those two conflicts started, but I shouldn't point that out; it's wrong to bring logic to a knife fight.
There wasn't really anything that President Obama could have done in this situation that would have appeased the right-wing. If he refused to aid the people of Libya and join NATO in their action, the criticism would have been that he's a "do-nothing President," that he insulted our NATO allies, and that he's firmly in Muammar Gaddafi's pocket. If we only enforced a no-fly zone over Libya, the complaint would still be that he didn't do enough, and if the opposition forces failed in their quest to overthrow Gaddafi's regime, President Obama would have been blamed for that, too, citing his lack of involvement. Here we see a carefully thought-out and measured response to a crisis. A United Nations production of a NATO film, starring France, The United States, and Great Britain, with seventeen other cast members, at the behest of the Libyan people. And what is the far-right saying now, after having very heavily criticized President Obama for doing nothing all this time? He was wrong to act. This is suddenly their problem, and we shouldn't be involved. The Libyan people should have picked themselves up by whatever bootstraps hadn't been shot off.
People on the far-right are already comparing this to the Iraq war. They're saying this military action goes against our Constitution, which is funny, since these are the same folks who defended the Iraq war back in 2003, claiming the Constitution had nothing to do with anything, but I digress. What they're ignoring (or are simply ignorant about) is the fact that what we're doing in Libya is absolutely nothing at all similar to the Iraq war. We aren't sending soldiers into Libya... we're firing missiles from war ships and hitting targets many miles away, while enforcing a no-fly zone over Libyan skies. Opposition forces will do all of the ground work themselves. We aren't sending in an occupation army. We aren't overseeing the development of the new government that rises out of the wake of the impending collapse of Gaddafi's regime; this isn't another attempt at nation-building. You won't see images of U.S. Army Rangers being waved at by Libyans with purple fingers. Simply put, we knock out Gaddafi's targets, we sit off the coast until opposition forces seize Tripoli, and then we go home. That's as far as our involvement will be, or should be. And if President Obama decides to stick around, it will cost him the 2012 election, and I won't vote for him, as much as a cheerleader for his administration as some on the right like to make me out to be.
President Clinton didn't act in Rwanda, which infuriated me to no end. I was fourteen years old, so I had no legitimate voice, but I couldn't believe that Bill Clinton, a man whom I had supported as a youth, a man I had looked up to, stood idly by and did nothing while a genocide was carried out on innocent people. If ever there was a time where conservatives had a chance to convert me, that was as golden an opportunity as they've ever had, not that it would have lasted more than a few weeks. He didn't make up for it by going after Milosevic, either; it was the right thing to do, but to this day, I wish President Clinton had done something in Rwanda, where our presence was needed the most. I slept a bit easier last night knowing that President Obama didn't succumb to the same critical error.
But none of that matters to the people on the far-right. To them, it really wouldn't have mattered what President Obama did in this situation... it would have been wrong regardless, because they refuse to acknowledge anything good about him, purely on the principal of not wanting to ever show his administration support. I recently made a similar comment to this on another article: President Obama could offer to buy someone on the far-right an ice cream cone. They'd complain about taxpayer money being spent, and when President Obama broke out his own wallet and put up his own cash, they'd complain about the flavor. When he offered any flavor they wanted, they'd claim they were lactose intolerant. When he offered a non-dairy treat, they'd complain about how disgusting non-dairy ice cream tastes. When he offered them something different, they'd respond by saying how badly they wanted ice cream. No matter what he says or does, it's going to be wrong.
The arguments coming out of the far-right against our involvement have thus far been bitterly ironic and painfully deadpan. The aforementioned Constitution argument is particularly fun, when it's cited by people who had absolutely no care in the world for the Constitution back in 2003, when Bush and company were frantically searching for an excuse to invade Iraq... when the Constitution really mattered. Another popular argument, one which has been mentioned countless times by Conservatives on my Facebook friends list, is that we have nothing to gain from this venture. If the United States doesn't stand to gain something, why is it worth doing? To that, I tend to reply that helping people in need should be its own reward. You shouldn't need incentive to do the right thing. And besides, if President Obama refused to go in with NATO and did absolutely nothing, you'd be whining in the other direction, as you were prior to the announcement that we were joining NATO in helping the Libyan people. So really, you're invalidating your own arguments before you even make them.
If you could travel back in time to Paris in the 1770's, you could walk into just about any pub or tavern in the city, and you'd find a few of the establishment's patrons complaining about sending French soldiers and ships across the Atlantic to help a bunch of colonists fight off the British Empire. Why should they help us? What's in it for them, right? We asked for their help, but forget that... France has its own problems! Of course, if you fast-forward to that same pub in the summer of 1944, shortly after the liberation of Paris, they'd have a wholly different view. Heck yes, go help them with their revolution! I'm not going to further illustrate this point for the less-initiated, and I beg you not to either. Let them try to flex their own head muscles for a while.
My support for President Obama's administration in this action in Libya is very strictly limited to the principals of my own beliefs. I will support the President's decision of attacking Gaddafi's forces in Libya, but a number of conditions must remain true for that support to remain in place. One, ground forces may not be sent in without overwhelming support for such an action from the people of Libya, nor may it be done without knowing exactly where Gaddafi is, and doing so with the sole intention of capturing him. Two, no nation-building. The people of Libya have earned the right to develop their government themselves, even if we don't agree with what they come up with. Last but certainly not least, my third condition for support is that as soon as the opposition asks us to leave, we must leave. There is a responsible, rational method of helping Libyans earn their freedom, and there is a capricious, dangerous route as well. As soon as we start heading down the latter road, my support for this action will firmly and swiftly cease, and my support for President Obama, which has already been tested by numerous issues on which we strongly part ways, will be open again for reevaluation.
But that's the difference between a rational individual, and a radical political fringe element. The latter tends to be indifferent to their own double-standards, opposing their rivals regardless of where that opposition truly stands, because siding with them on anything is an admittance of moderation, which to them is a great political sin. The rational individual will part ways with those whom they support when it is called for, and will withdraw their support entirely when it proves itself necessary. Most importantly, they have the courage to stand up and admit when someone on the other side of the aisle has a valid point, or has done something worthy of commendation. So in the coming hours, days, and weeks, keep an eye out for the radical political fringe element. And do be sure to call them on their hypocrisy and fatuity whenever they turn an about-face on their positions in the hopes of showing off their opposition.