Shorter Longer PZ Myers: Why are we bombing Libya?:
I don’t see any difference between Barack Obama responded to a request by the Arab League, endorsed by the United Nations, to establish a no-fly zone with a clear end-game and limited engagement which will prevent Gadhafi from murdering his people and allow a legitimate popular uprising to succeed, and George W. Bush circumventing the UN and international law to take revenge on Saddam Hussein for trying to kill Bush’s dad in a costly and ill-defined war with no clear goals or endgame which installed a puppet government with no indigenous legitimacy.
There are legitimate questions to ask about the domestic legality of the President launching military strikes without Congressional consent, but PZ is wrong to treat this and the Iraq war as cases of “staging a coalition to throw us into another costly war with another petty dictator.” The US lagged the rest of the world, at least in its public diplomacy, in seeking a no-fly zone. The Arab League called for the no-fly zone, and the UN Security Council authorized it under a clause that, arguably, justifies the White House circumventing Congress to take part. The no-fly zone falls well within the tradition of just war.
By contrast, the Arab League and the UN opposed the invasion of Iraq, and the Bush administration put together a farcical “coalition” to paper over the genuine international opposition. There was no support for the action in international law, and Congressional support was iffy (the war resolution was premised on UN inspections failing, and inspectors didn’t feel their work was complete).