Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Some thoughts on how the Iraq war has poisoned some views on Libya

I’ve really been struck at how many commenters on this blog invoke the Iraq war when looking at Libya. I don’t see it. I actually think that letting Iraq getting in the way of looking at Libya is a mistake. I am not saying we should use force casually, but I do think there are ...

expertinfantry/Flickr
expertinfantry/Flickr
expertinfantry/Flickr

I've really been struck at how many commenters on this blog invoke the Iraq war when looking at Libya.

I don't see it. I actually think that letting Iraq getting in the way of looking at Libya is a mistake. I am not saying we should use force casually, but I do think there are times when force should be used. There are sins of commission, and that is what George Bush committed hugely in Iraq. But there also are sins of omission.

For me, the worry of many Best Defense commenters about even giving Arab states a hand in Libya is just one more reason to consider the Iraq war a huge strategic mistake. David Ignatius, who likes facts more than ideology, has a good answer on this: Don't look at President Obama through the Bush lens, look at him at someone who consciously is trying to do away with that lens. He has spoken softly but also used the military stick.  

I’ve really been struck at how many commenters on this blog invoke the Iraq war when looking at Libya.

I don’t see it. I actually think that letting Iraq getting in the way of looking at Libya is a mistake. I am not saying we should use force casually, but I do think there are times when force should be used. There are sins of commission, and that is what George Bush committed hugely in Iraq. But there also are sins of omission.

For me, the worry of many Best Defense commenters about even giving Arab states a hand in Libya is just one more reason to consider the Iraq war a huge strategic mistake. David Ignatius, who likes facts more than ideology, has a good answer on this: Don’t look at President Obama through the Bush lens, look at him at someone who consciously is trying to do away with that lens. He has spoken softly but also used the military stick.  

Here is how Rafat Bakar, a Libyan revolutionary in the city of Baida, puts it, according to today’s Wall Street Journal: " When America occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, it spread corruption and killed innocents. A Western intervention in Libya would help us get rid of the tyrant and of injustice." (I disagree with Mr. Bakar on Afghanistan, but you get the point.)

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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