If anyone has been paying attention, there are some striking differences on display in the saga playing itself out in Barack Obama’s handling of a crisis in Benghazi, Libya, and George W. Bush’s handling of Iraq.
It’s become a convenient trope of history that Bush invaded Iraq on a pretext, that of “saving” the world from the weapons of mass destruction under the control of Saddam Hussein weapons that Bush knew were not there.
“Bush lied and people died,” goes the mantra, which now lies in shambles after Barack Obama’s Benghazi makings.
Let’s take this piece by piece, compare the approaches and results.
Taking Bush’s approach at face value takes us one place, Barack Obama’s another.
Bush, we’ll recall after 9-11 faced a difficult choice, whether to ignore Saddam Hussein, whose glee with regard to the attacks was unmitigated.
Oh, and then there that was the matter of Saddam’s bragging about having, and being willing to use, WMD, as they became known.
Bush faced a difficult choice. What made more sense? Act, or allow a madman with a tenuously credible claim to the most powerful weapons on Earth to simply be, blasting away at U.S. pilots patrolling the no-fly zone, savoring the murder of thousands of Kurds, and defying the United Nations. Resolution 1441, anyone?
Bush decided it was better to topple Hussein and liberate Iraq. He weighed the odds and opted to err on the side of caution. For doing so, he’s been vilified.
Now we have Obama’s handling of Benghazi.
Knowing that jihadists are attached to anniversaries, he looked the other way when Ambassador Christopher Stevens was sent to Benghazi – where Stevens was on Sept. 11.
While an actual attack (Remember, Bush acted to prevent one, Obama to permit one) was being captured in real time at the State Department and in the White House, Obama opted to do nothing, exactly what Bush’s critics counseled (in hindsight.)
The upshot is Bush left behind an Iraq freed of Saddam Hussein and the introduction of free elections. Remember those purple fingers?
Obama, meanwhile, won’t tell us where he was at 6:07 on 9-11 – the time that his situation room received an e-mail telling Obama that Ansar al-sharia had claimed credit for the attack, meaning it wasn’t the senseless mob attack that the administration described it until recently.
We know the story of Bush’s decision; the background of Obama’s is still being revealed.
It’s not a pretty picture, but we know that opting to do nothing has done nothing to advance American interests, all while exacting a terrible price.