Oliver Willis

Not Anti-War, But Anti-Stupid War

The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf takes Howard Dean to task for not opposing military action in Libya.

Dean lost in the primaries, so we never got to see whether he’d really embrace the rule of law, truth-telling, and transparency about facts as president. But he is still speaking out about foreign wars. On Wednesday morning, for example, he went on MSNBC, where he praised President Obama for the war in Libya. “It’s very smart. You don’t put boots on the ground. You don’t commit trillions of dollars to a war in Iraq,” he said. “You do it with the other tools that we have that frankly work much better over the long term because you don’t get a lot of public resistance — drones, special operations forces, use of intelligence agencies. That’s exactly what he did.”

Isn’t that something?

He’s praising drone strikes and special ops because they’re less likely to attract the scrutiny and criticism from American citizens. It’s a position one doesn’t expect a prominent Iraq War dissenter to take — you’d think he of all people would understand that it’s vital for the American public to scrutinize the foreign policy decisions of its leaders regardless of the political party in power.

Friedersdorf goes on to attack the anti-war movement as just so much partisan hackery. Except, he’s wrong. The bulk of opposition to the Iraq War wasn’t opposition to the concept of war. For most of us who opposed the Iraq War, it was neither out of dovishness or kneejerk opposition to Bush. It was opposition to a war that was unnecessary and distracting from the already ongoing war against Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The only military action of the last 20 years I have seriously opposed was the invasion and occupation of Iraq, because it never made any sense. There were no WMDs and thousands of Americans died due to poor leadership from Bush and his crew.

When Obama ran for president, he did not run as an anti-war candidate, something even some of his supporters seem to have ignored. Obama said he opposed the Iraq War, but even on the campaign trail he made clear that he thought the conflict in Afghanistan was needed.

I don’t get this sort of strawman type argument that because someone – rightly – opposed the Iraq War, they should oppose all other wars and if they don’t they’re a hypocrite.