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Echoes Of Failures Past

I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is something hauntingly familiar about what seems to be the Obama policy regarding Libya. Something that seems eerily reminiscent of... dammit, I can't quite put my finger on it.

Maybe it's the idea that we are aiding and abetting rebels against a militaristic dictator in a civil war, but solely through air power...


OK, then, maybe it's the idea that we are encouraging the overthrow of a Middle Eastern dictator who we have come to terms with, but not knowing a damned thing about the likely successors, in the hopes that "they can't be as bad as the current guy" -- even though "the current guy" isn't bothering his neighbors or causing mischief outside his own borders.

No, that's not it, either.

Fine. OK, how about we have a Democratic president who never served in the military who is deploying the US military forces into Africa for what he describes as a "purely humanitarian" move to help and protect suffering innocents, in an area where his administration explicitly states that we have no national interest, just our sense of duty to humanity and to show the world we really are the good guys.

Still not it.

Sigh. I give. Maybe there are some historical parallels to be drawn here. Maybe there are some lessons we can learn from past experiences, lessons that will help us avoid repeating them.

But it's going to take someone with a keener sense of history than me to find them.


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Comments (26)

It sure will.Leave... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

It sure will.

Leave it to Wizbang to suggest that the whole story of American involvement with the Middle East, and Iran specifically, started in 1978.

Bruce, there's no other pos... (Below threshold)

Bruce, there's no other possible response I can give to that but "WTF?"

I suspect that is the reaction you wanted, and you have a multi-paragraph response ready about how all the problems in the Middle East all trace back to being the US' fault.

Not relevant here, Bruce. So don't go there. Note that only one of the examples I linked to involved the Middle East.

I'm not in the best of moods today, Bruce. Not a good time to push my buttons and press the boundaries.


Could that example be the B... (Below threshold)

Could that example be the Balkans and the Democrat president be William Jefferson Clinton? Sounds like that has an eerily strange sense of deja vue to it.

FWIW, H. W. Bush deployed t... (Below threshold)

FWIW, H. W. Bush deployed the US military in Somalia in 1992. The fit hit the shan in 1993, after Bill Clinton became president.

Deployment - Bush 41. Response to Mogudishu - Clinton. At least Slick Willie didn't blame everything that went wrong in Somalia on Bush.

JT there are plenty of prec... (Below threshold)

JT there are plenty of precedents to dealing wig BH "look a shiny" combined with marginalize/minimize the opposition that with a little cut and paste you could have a ten paragraph response to his canned response in no time.

Leave it to BH to produce yet again another thread bending blurt of hate.

True dat, epador, but for o... (Below threshold)

True dat, epador, but for once I spotted it right away and smacked it down.

Guess I ought to be cranky more often.


You didn't even mention the... (Below threshold)
Andrew X:

You didn't even mention the parallel of 1991 -

Rabid middle eastern tyrant sees his corrupt military decimated and put to rout by US and allied forces, at which point we decide that obviously he is so both loathed and gravely wounded that the rebels on the ground can make short work of him. "Hey, we did the heavy lifting guys, why don't you just waltz into the capital and take care of business?"

And how'd that one work out, again?

"But it's going to take som... (Below threshold)

"But it's going to take someone with a keener sense of history than me to find them."

OBAMA DOCTRINE: "Makin' shit up as we go along. The Won exits, leaving others holding the bag and doing the work."

So Andrew, Bush 1 should ha... (Below threshold)

So Andrew, Bush 1 should have marched to Bagdad and taken out Sadam without UN authorization to do so, without congressional authorization to do so? Bush 1 should have ignored Sadam's surrender and just pushed on right? I guess that means you were in support of Bush 2 taking Sadam out right?

At least we have learned tw... (Below threshold)

At least we have learned two lesson from Iraq:

1 - don't involve ground troops.
2 - formally involve the UN and get buy-in from other Middle Eastern countries.

It would be nice if we could be not involved at all, but this appears to be a clear case of things being worse if we aren't.

Now again, we're not involved because we love Libyans so much. Clearly if we did love them, we wouldn't have left them saddled with Qaddafi in the first place. Much like the Shah of Iran who we put in and supported - and also much like Saddam Hussein, who we also put in and supported.

No, it's all about the resources and their effect on our own bottom line.

Somalia is what we call Mis... (Below threshold)

Somalia is what we call Mission creep.
Bush 41 was the one that deployed our troops in Somalia.
Clinton took over and changed our mission in to capture Kill mission under UN control after reducing forces.

Kosovo to me is the appt version.
1. No real goals of the mission
2. Underestimation of the will of the Enemy
3. Support of Rebels
4. An ever expanding Bombing campaign that in 11 week was going to run out of targets. NATO was dithering on sending in ground troops when the Russians negotiated terms with the Serbs
5. After all was down we found that many Hits were decoys and did not hamper the Serbs forces and gave cover for on both sides. THough NATO could never admit that the KLA did anything wrong.
6. European powers relied on the US to do all the heavy lifting.

"...Bush 1 should have marc... (Below threshold)

"...Bush 1 should have marched to Bagdad and taken out Sadam without UN authorization to do so..."

Actually? Yes he should have gone on to Baghdad and dusted Saddam, as demonstrated by the US having to go BACK a few years later and do just that. As I recall that was heatedly debated as well at the time.

F**k the UN, it's NOT a body that can dictate policy matters to any country, its strictly a *political* body that gives the sham appearance of cover for actions they approve of that actually needed to be done anyway.

Its also to bad there's not a Chinese embassy to pop with a misplaced JDAM or two either. Clinton managed to piss off some of his biggest campaign contributors doing that in Bosnia.

Yeah, we played by the UN p... (Below threshold)

Yeah, we played by the UN plan in '91. Bad move, in retrospect.

The trouble is that eventually dictators go "Man, dodged a bullet on that one!" when the UN bails them out - and then they instruct their reps on the various UN councils to block actions which might take out other bad actors. Professional courtesy, kind of like sharks not biting lawyers...

So the UN gets... um, neutered. Which, in the end, doesn't do anyone any real good - except the dictators who know that that no matter what, the UN won't do anything.

Damn shame, too. Back in the '60s, I really thought they'd help bring around world peace. Well, it was a nice fantasy.

Well, Jay Tea, I guess if o... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Well, Jay Tea, I guess if one checks Wizbang, dashes off a comment, and goes to work, one finds that one has been "smacked down" when one returns.

Not to push your buttons or anything, but your first link refers to wikipedia's entry on Iran's 1978 revolution, the first sentence of which is, "The Iranian Revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution, began in January 1978 with the first demonstrations against the Shah." Your second link is TO THE SAME PAGE. The third is about Somalia, which, it is true, is not technically part of the geographic region known as the Middle East, but damn sure shares some similarities.

My intent was not to imply that all the problems of the region were the fault of the US, but that US and Western policy has helped shape the history of the area for good or ill since long before 1978. And if you were honest about the history of the area, you'd realize that the two situations - Iran 1978 and Libya 2011 - bear little resemblance to each other beyond the surface similarities you have strained so hard to conflate here.

But what conservative readers crave is simplicity - black/white, good guy/bad guy stuff. So conservative writers give it to them. I don't know if this qualifies, here. Too thinky thinky.

Crap, I screwed up the link... (Below threshold)

Crap, I screwed up the links. The first was supposed to be to the Bay of Pigs.

Lemme go fix that.

Worst part about it is that it gives Bruce a bit of a leg to stand on...


OK, now that the link's fix... (Below threshold)

OK, now that the link's fixed, let me spell it out for Bruce:

The reference to Iran was intended to talk about how "this guy is so bad" led to "anyone must be better," and ended up replacing the Shah with the Ayatollah -- and would you care to say that that was an improvement?

Likewise, what do we know about the Libyan rebels, apart from that at they don't like K-Daffy and at least some of them used to be trying to kill our guys in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Could be good to know, especially since we're fighting for them and apparently giving them weapons...


No, it wasn't an improvemen... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

No, it wasn't an improvement. Know what might have led to something better? If we hadn't enabled the Shah, whom we and the British illegally (re)installed in '53, to persecute and murder most of the secular liberal and leftist opposition. For 26 years.

See, once those guys were gone, there was no one to give voice to anti-Shah feeling except the mullahs. But don't let that stop you from continuing in the fantasy that the Iranian Revolution was one hundred per cent Jimmy Carter's "fault."

I'm not going to defend Obama's policy in Libya. I have plenty of misgivings about it, some of which are the same as some of yours, Jay Tea. But I take issue with drawing many parallels between the two scenarios. It was just a couple of months ago that the Egypt situation was "just like" Iran 1979, and before that Tunisia was "just like" Iran 1979. Previously Lebanon was in danger of becoming "just like" Iran 1979. According to some here, anyway.

jim x (rated): "we wouldn't... (Below threshold)

jim x (rated): "we wouldn't have left them saddled with Qaddafi in the first place." WTF! Why is it leftists make no effort to read a page of history? They simply fall back on the default position that all problems in the world, including earthquakes and tsunamis (see HAARP ravings by the left) are caused by the USA. Talk about original sin! I challenge you to back up the "U.S. put in" statements from reputable... and reputable is not a term that can be used with The Nation, Mother Jones and similar rags... sources.

Bay of Pigs.Now th... (Below threshold)

Bay of Pigs.

Now that was horrid. The JFK did not provide the requested air support because Soviets were in Cuba. That mistake allowed the USSR to build missile silos miles from Florida. This was important as we later learn that many of the Russian ICBM had poor guidance and the SSBM were still get bugs out. in the MAD game the US was ahead so Cuba and a missile base their was needed.

It really was in our national interest to provide all aid to the rebels and we did not do so only brought closer to the brink a few short years latter.

Now the other question is the original US support of the Castro brothers. A case of not knowing your friends as well as you should.

Laughingoutloud - since my ... (Below threshold)

Laughingoutloud - since my statement about Qaddafi is so wrong in your eyes, please explain why if we loved the Libyan people so much, we didn't get rid of Qaddafi much earlier.

Since my statement is so wrong, that should be very easy for you, shouldn't it?

jim x, I hate to interrupt ... (Below threshold)

jim x, I hate to interrupt your "America is the root cause of all evil in the world" lecture (well, not really, but I'm being polite), but the point I was raising was that Carter supported the Ayatollah over the Shah -- and that was ultimately worse for the world in general, and the US and the Iranian people in particular?

Yes, you're obsessed with blaming America for everything, but I'm talking only about the Shah vs. the Ayatollah here. Kindly take your "it's all our fault because of 1953" and shove it up your ass sideways save it for a more relevant time.

Also, please enlighten us. At what point during K-Daffy's reign would have been appropriate for us to invade and topple him? Or just assassinate him? Obviously, we can eliminate 1973-1977, 1981-1993, and 2001-2009, as that's when we had Republican presidents, and that would have been illegal warmongering and meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations. No, only a Democrat could act humanely and compassionately and selflessly enough to carry it out -- so that means Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton.


It can't be fairly said tha... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

It can't be fairly said that Carter "supported the Ayatollah over the Shah" - more like he "failed to rescue the Shah when the Shah needed rescue most." Although it's not clear that anything the US did in 1979 would have prevented the Shah's fall.

I know it's difficult for conservatives, but let's try a little empathy exercise. Let's suppose that the US found itself under the rule of a puppet Emperor imposed by a foreign superpower. And let's say that the puppet emperor spent 26 years, propped up by his foreign masters, murdering and persecuting any and all enemies, real and imagined. Let's further suppose that a charismatic exile returned and led a revolution against the puppet emperor.

Who would you support in this revolution? The expatriate who is throwing out the puppets of a foreign power? Or the Puppet Regime who promises to continue doing what they've been doing for the last 26 years?

My point is that the 1979 Revolution was going to happen no matter what Carter did. Now, could he have handled the hostage crisis more forcefully? Sure. And Reagan could have managed the next 8 years of the Revolution's aftermath more adroitly and in a less craven fashion, too.

Bruce, Carter called Khomei... (Below threshold)

Bruce, Carter called Khomeini a "fellow man of faith." And I'm talking 1979. Carter also refused to allow the deposed Shah -- who had been a loyal ally for decades -- admission to the United States for medical treatment, even though he was dying.

Carter did not have to have an official position on the Iranian revolution, but he chose to back Khomeini's return. And that really worked out well, didn't it?

Likewise, there is no reason whatsoever to take a position -- let alone a side -- in the Libyan civil war. Not unless you want to show some kind -- hell, any kind -- of evidence that the rebels would actually be better than K-Daffy.

I know you're pretty much hopeless on most things, Bruce, but let me point out one simple fact:

It ain't 1953 any more. Most of us are a bit more concerned about current events -- and in case it's escaped you, it's 2011.


It's been 32 years since th... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

It's been 32 years since the Iranian Revolution, and you're still pissed about it.

In 1979, it had only been 26 years since Iranians awoke to find that a puppet had been installed by foreigners as their absolute ruler, with power to imprison and murder anyone at will, at any time, for any or no reason. A power he used liberally over that 26 year period.

I'll bet they were more pissed then than you are now. And they were going to get rid of the Shah. It's unfortunate they wound up being ruled by mullahs all this time, but there has NEVER been a serious Iranian movement to bring back the Shah. What does that tell you?

No it ain't 1953, but it ain't 1979, either. And every instance of turmoil in every Middle Eastern country shouldn't necessarily be compared with the Iran of that year. Pretending the situations are analogous is the mark of a lazy writer.

Bruce, let's cut through th... (Below threshold)

Bruce, let's cut through the crap you seem to enjoy flinging, and bring it down to just one critical question that nobody can seem to answer:

Do we have ANY indications that the guys we're backing will be any better than K-Daffy, and not worse?

That should have been answered before we fired one missile. But we don't have any indications that it was ever even ASKED.


I'm thinking that by "crap ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

I'm thinking that by "crap you seem to enjoy flinging" you mean "facts Jay Tea finds inconvenient."

As I said, I'm not defending Obama's policy on Libya, just pointing out that not every situation in the Middle East is analogous to Iran 1979.

Even your basic premise with this comparison is flawed. In 1979, no one doubted that it would be "worse," not "better," for short term US interests if the Shah, our puppet, was ousted and a bunch of religious fanatics took over. That's why Carter tried pathetically to mollify Khomeini with his "fellow man of God" comment. But Carter didn't "back" Khomeini. More like accepted the reality that Khomeini was going to wind up in charge.

By contrast, in Libya, we're not talking about an American puppet being deposed - we're talking about an anti-American dictator who has committed acts of terrorism against us and the West since the 1970s. And, to my knowledge, no one is suggesting that the leadership vacuum is going to be filled by fanatical Shiite clerics. So how again are the two situations analogous?






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