Iraq's Legacy On America's Role In The World.

There’s an awful lot of “should” in politics. These “shoulds” often involve a lot of bleating when not 100% of everyone agrees with something, even if that lack of consensus was totally predictable.

International law provides for the UN to deal with breaches of the peace. The UN Charter also allows nations to fight defensive wars. There aren’t really any other exceptions to these rules. (I’m under the impression that it is legal to launch a war to fight genocide without the UN’s cooperation, but that is relying on 8 year old information from a law professor. At least that seemed to be the deal with Kosovo.)

One of the specific instances where the UN has resolved to keep the peace (and to act itself) is in the case of genocide, war crimes, or the involvement of civilians in armed conflict. UN Security Council Resolution 1674. That is exactly what the UN has done in Libya.

Today’s Gallup Poll has Americans split 44-44 on Obama’s handling of Libya. 57% approved of Bush’s handling of Iraq a few weeks in.

This is stunning. Both Hussein and Qadafi have been comic book villains in the American consciousness since the late 80s. Both are, you know, “Arabs.” Both Iraq and Libya produce oil and are in the “middle east.” America has seen on TV videographic proof that Qadafi was committing war crimes by bombing his own people, something like what in April 2003 might have sounded in the mind like Colin Powell’s UN speech.

Whence the 13% spread? Is it because Obama’s black? It more or less corresponds to the difference between Bush’s overall approval rating at the time and Obama’s.

But I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s America is war weary. Nothing seems to be resolving in the other two wars. 9 years ago we knew why we were in Afghanistan. Now even if you support us being there, it’s hard to feel great about it.

This is what I have said about Iraq since the beginning. It was a fraud. The people who perpetrated it knew it was a fraud. They knew it would probably come out that it was a fraud. And they knew or should have know that that would make people less willing to do what we’re supposed to do with our military.

So, should Iraq have moved Americans into knee jerk pacifism? No. But anyone could have known it would.

So, guys like David Sirota can call people like me “cruise missile liberals” and others can tell us why our intervention in Libya is a bad idea. Well, I’ll leave it to renowned Arabist and well-known leftist Juan Cole to plead the case.