Guest Editorial: Anti-War Progressives and Gays May Challenge Obama in 2012

If President Barack Obama submits his intervention in Libya to Congress for its approval and he was still Senator Barack Obama, he would vote against his own use of force resolution.  After all, he opposed his predecessor, George W. Bush, for invading Iraq.

Obama seems to have taken the first step into quicksand and will find it impossible to extricate himself.  He has been lured by conservative governments in the London and Paris to embrace the cause of saving Libyan civilians, a fight he probably cannot accomplish without ground troops and likely cannot win without regime change.

Bush-43 spent six years trying to convince us that Iraq was not another Vietnam.  Now Obama is trying to sell the idea that Libya is not another Iraq.  But, of course, it is.  In both cases, we face a hostile dictator who, with his political and military cronies, has made a good living by abusing his own people.  Even if Gadaffi goes, his vindictive military is as likely to trigger a guerrilla war as Saddam's did in Iraq.  And, in both countries, we intervene as a foreign power, distrusted by the population.  And, in each case, we face a nation where the crowded cities and the vast open spaces around them make guerrilla war highly possible.

Add to this mix that Obama took the action consulting only with the U.N. Security Council, not the U.S. Congress.  He, even now, refuses to send a war powers resolution to Congress.  The American Left, and all its Gay supporters, would never allow a Republican to do the same.

He begins the war with only 51 percent approval for the intervention among Democrats.  A Democratic president cannot sustain popular support for a war by relying on Republicans.  Obama is setting in motion the same forces that toppled Humphrey and Johnson in 1968, Bush the First in 1992 and Hillary in 2008.  He is betraying his political base and will pay for it at the polls.  Repealing "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" will not suffice to hold his party together.

In President Clinton's move to the center of 1995-1996, he took care to cave into the demands of Jesse Jackson to preserve affirmative action, despite the president's personal preference to make it gender and racially neutral.  He did so precisely to avoid a primary fight so that he could accommodate the Republican Congress on domestic policy and budget issues without worrying about his left flank.

Obama has cut no such deal with the likes of Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, a national leader of the American Left and a favorite among many hard-core Gay activists.  If Obama stays in Libya, Kucinich probably gets into the race.  If Obama continues to stay, Kucinich will move up in the polls.  Such an outcome will split the Gay Democrats to the delight of Gay Republicans and conservatives.

At the very least, Kucinich's challenge will hamper Obama's attempts to move to the center since complying with Republican demands for spending cuts will enrage his liberal constituents.  At the most, Kucinich's candidacy will attract funding and credibility and become a serious political movement.  Can't you see Michael Moore hopping on board and the leftist anti-war group, Code Pink, (which is full of gay activists), protesting wherever Obama appears in public?  Already, Michael Moore is telling Obama to give back his Nobel Peace Prize.

How did Obama get embroiled?  It started with European pressure on Hillary.  The Secretary of State did not like being the odd-woman-out as the European club berated the U.S. for failing to protect Libyan civilians.  Never mind that they let the Kurds get gassed by the hundreds of thousands and the Rwandans get exterminated by the millions.  Now, the European establishment was determined to act.

Hillary, obsessed by the desire to fit in, came out - in private - for military action, convinced Obama to act.  The subtext of this decision was that the president couldn't sit back and let slaughter proceed in Libya and have his 2008 presidential runner-up chaffing at the bit to stop it, always with the threat of leaks and, eventually, going public and resigning.  In fact, in the middle of this ordeal Hillary told USA Today that she would not serve as Secretary of State if Obama wins a second term.

So now the escalation begins:  from no-fly zones enforced by bombing to no-drive zones for armor policed from the air;  from protecting civilians to ousting Gadaffi;  from toppling a regime to stopping a civil war.

 


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