President Barack Obama has launched a third war in a Muslim country, expanded the war in Afghanistan and is continuing many of the national security policies of former President George W. Bush, including keeping Guantanamo open, indefinite detentions of enemy combatants, rendition and military trials. Civilians continue to be killed by U.S. and NATO military forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And, in just the last few days, photos have begun to be released of atrocious crimes against Afghan civilians, allegedly committed last year by American soldiers.
Nevertheless, most of the Obama administration’s Left-wing supporters are still in the fold, remaining silent when the same sort of conduct during the Bush years brought an unrelenting stream of vitriolic condemnations against George W. Bush.
One challenger on the Left is Ralph Nader, who has called for President Obama’s impeachment, saying he is responsible for war crimes in the Middle East.
In an interview with the anti-war group Democracy Now!, Nader compared Obama to Bush:
Why don’t we say what’s on the minds of many legal experts; that the Obama administration is committing war crimes; and if Bush should have been impeached, Obama should be impeached. “[Bush officials] were considered war criminals by many people. Now, Barack Obama is committing the same crimes. In fact, worse ones in Afghanistan. Innocents are being slaughtered, we are creating more enemies, he is violating international law.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the seven-term Left-wing Democratic congressman from Ohio said President Obama committed an “impeachable offense” in deciding to authorize U.S. airstrikes over Libya without the consent of Congress:
President Obama moved forward without Congress approving. He didn’t have Congressional authorization, he has gone against the Constitution, and that’s got to be said. I’m raising the question as to whether or not it’s an impeachable offense. It would appear on its face to be an impeachable offense.
Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink, said on the “O’Reilly Factor” last night that she opposed Obama’s decision to go to war in Libya.
There have also been scattered anti-war protests against American involvement in the war against Col. Moammar Qaddafi’s forces.
However, these challengers to President Obama’s policies from the hard Left are the outliers. The core of Obama’s Left-wing base appears to be remaining in his corner for the most part, at least for now. His supporters in the media and the Democratic Party are giving him the benefit of the doubt, which they never extended to George W. Bush.
The last time I checked Moveon.org’s website, for example, I saw nothing from this self-described anti-war group condemning Obama’s attack on Libya . If this had been George W. Bush and he had acted without any Congressional authorization, Moveon.org would have gone for his head by now.
The New York Times ran an editorial yesterday supporting Obama’s Libyan war, following the support it had expressed for Obama’s Afghan war surge decision in December 2009. By contrast, the Times savaged every war-related decision that George W. Bush made, including the successful surge in Iraq that turned the tide of that war in our favor.
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow gave Obama a pass because he was a “reluctant” warrior who sought international consensus first. The fact that he neglected to consult with Congress in any serious way mattered not to her.
What has even more dramatically demonstrated the double-standard of Obama’s apologists is the revelation, reported by the British newspaper The Guardian, that members of a self-styled U.S. Army “kill team” in Afghanistan last year posed for photos with corpses of civilians they allegedly tortured and killed. This happened on Obama’s watch.
The photos, Guardian reporter Jon Boone wrote, were published in German news weekly Der Spiegel. They are reportedly worse than the images of U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib in Iraq, for which the mainstream media and Democratic Party leaders blamed President Bush.
The New York Times, which alone published 56 stories on the Abu Ghraib scandal, many on its front page, and ran editorial after editorial excoriating Bush, has barely mentioned these latest photos. In yesterday’s Times, an article appeared on p. 4, under the headline “Photos Imperil U.S. Relations With Afghans.” I didn’t see any article on the subject in today’s Times. Nor has the Times chosen to run any editorials yet.
Joe Klein of Time Magazine had accused George W. Bush and Dick Cheny of running
a profoundly un-American administration
Joe Klein went on to claim that Bush’s policies “led directly to the abuses” of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
Although Klein did offer some mild criticism of Obama’s decision to intervene militarily in Libya, where has Klein been on the latest revelations of civilian abuse in Afghanistan during the Obama administration? As of his last post yesterday on the Swampland blog, Klein has said nothing about it.
All of this proves that, with limited exceptions, the Left’s rants against President Bush were not motivated by sincere anti-war principles, but only by a desire to destroy Bush’s presidency for partisan purposes. The Left’s double standard is alive and well.
Joseph Klein is the author of a recent book entitled Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations and Radical Islam