My friend Steve Cook asked me a question and honestly it was one I hadn't spoken out about yet since the actions taken in Libya are yet to fully play out and our commitment is not clear. But if someone wants to wink at me with a notion of hypocricy, I'll be damned if I don't respond. If you come across this note at a later date - please reference the date in which this was written. (LATER NOTE: Some factual discrepancies have been discussed in the comment section of the original note.)
It would seem hypocritical only if you painted it with a very large brush. Though people like to draw comparisons to the two dictators, the actual circumstances of the situation of the moment and the Iraq War are pretty different.
I'm sure I'll regret not taking my time and writing a million paragraphs the first time around based on what happens in the comment section but I'll try to get away with pointing out those large differences and leaving it at that.
The large differences of this moment:
-We have committed no ground troops
-There's a clear internal struggle of citizens being slaughtered vs a dictator and his army
-It was a combined effort after obvious disccussion by the international community/U.N.
Those basic facts paint a very different picture than 2002 when Bush often spoke of Iraq and 9/11 in the same breath only to have to change the narrative two years later arguing we went in to free the Iraqi people. Also, even if it was based off the "freedom for Iraqis" thought from the beginning, even that could be argued to be nieve and short-sighted based on the "U.S. vs Muslim World" narrative that has only played into the hands of radical islamists.
If Obama were to commit ground troops, then we'd have a very different discussion on our hands. We'll see what the end-game thought of this campaign is when he makes his speach on (probably) Monday night to the United States people.
Things I should address just so people can't throw them in my face as if I ignored them on purpose, while I at the same time only feed the narrative of people who want to disagree with me at all costs yet may not have known about these things:
-The criticisms that have been made by the Arab League that their backing of a U.N. sanctioned no fly zone did not include the concept of actually bombing front lines and compounds, are fair criticisms.
-The criticisms that were made about his lack of consultation with the Senate are also fair (though it's not historically unprecedented when it's compared to actions taken by other Presidents).
-The worries that you can't "dabble" in war and that this was short-sighted as Ghadafi has shown signs he plans on waiting out the "passers by" may also be fair criticisms but at least they are decisions that we are not too heavily commited to, nor made solely by the U.S. But rather they were also decisions that have already proven to be met with praise by many Libyans in the streets of Libya.
So short answer: I think it was a fair step to take for the time being given the ticking time-bomb nature of the rebel struggle, the cooperation and action of the international community as a whole and as long as any thought of long term involvement is sincerely off the table (i.e. No troops on the ground) I don't see any hypocricy in that.
Here is a blog version of articles I've written in various forums and for various reasons. These are probably way too opinionated to be placed on a website where I'm potentially advertising my services but whatever, get over it - ideas are for sharing and debating.