Thursday, September 05, 2013

Syria is not Iraq (and apples are not oranges)

Like other Democratic consultants with careers to keep in mind, Robert Creamer, husband of liberal Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, is currently busy reassuring progressives that Barack Obama's desired attack on Syria will be "completely different" from the shock and awe that George W. Bush and Senate Democrats helped bring to Baghdad. And, it should be said, there's a lot of truth to that. They are, indeed, different situations occurring at different times (the US government had more allies when it destroyed Iraq, for instance).

But while the situations differ and lazy comparisons should always be avoided, Creamer's number one reason for why Syria is not Iraq is wrong in a big way. Being generous, it's the result of a lazy misremembering of history. Being realistic, it's a lie.

According to Creamer, writing for The Huffington Post:
1). The President is asking for a narrow authorization that the U.S. exact a near-term military price for Assad's use of chemical weapons. He is not asking for a declaration of War - which is exactly what George Bush asked from Congress in Iraq.
George W. Bush did not ask Congress for a declaration of war, which no president has done since WWII. He asked Congress to pass an, "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq." Barack Obama, meanwhile, is asking Congress to pass an, “Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons."

Obama's request does include a clause stating that it is not intended to authorize the use of "combat" troops on the ground. At the same time, while there does not appear to be much elite interest in a full-scale occupation of Syria at this point -- though calculations on all sides of the conflict could change when the bombs start falling -- the AUMF recognizes the president's "inherent" right to use military force to counter what he perceives to be threats to national security. Limits on "combat" troops are there for political reasons, not legally binding ones.

In other words, what Obama is asking for is "exactly" what Bush asked for, which is: political cover for using the US military any way he sees fit. What's different is the target and the perception that there's no real risk of being embroiled in a quagmire: just a few bombing raids carried out in time to pick up the kids from soccer practice.

You may be not at all surprised to learn that Creamer, who somehow managed to get this basic fact wrong, is a convicted liar. Indeed, he pleaded guilty to multiple felonies for defrauding a bank. But the people Creamer is lying to now don't run banks. Defrauding the public in order to sell a war won't get him a conviction, but a new hot tub and perhaps an appearance or two on a liberal chat show.

In terms of the dishonesty involved in selling a war on it, Syria is looking a lot like Iraq, actually.

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