When President Obama announced that coalition forces would provide support to the Libyan rebels fight against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, I, along with many people across the world, believed that this action bore a striking resemblance to what President Bush had in mind during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. After further research, I will admit that while there are some similarities, the majority of differences outweigh these similarities. I would even have liked to believe that they were similar, just to prove to all the people that Obama is just another politician, and isn’t really the savior that he was cracked up to be during his presidential campaign.
It seemed awfully eerie that both of these campaigns were aimed against cruel and violent dictators who faced strong opposition in and outside of their nations, while also having some of the top oil economies in the world. It was also odd to me that the United States had plans to put a democratic form of government in place after the regimes were toppled, which is something the United States is becoming increasingly infamous for. These issues, along with the point that Iraq and Libya posed no IMMINENT threat to the people of the United States, all struck me as ironically similar, especially under the direction of a President that bashed the foreign policy of his predecessor. Once I learned these things, it seemed I had no choice but to believe that Obama had repeated the Bush Doctrine.
After researching the differences between the U.S. involvement in Libya and Iraq, the first, and perhaps the most significant factor relating the two, is the motive for going in to these countries. President Bush’s reasoning to go in to Iraq was based on allegations that the Iraqi government was developing and hiding weapons of mass destruction. Also, Bush felt he needed to further the war on terror. In the case of Libya, Libyan people were calling for support in a regime change, because citizens were being murdered and mistreated by the Gadhafi regime for a very long time. This makes the case of Libya truly a humanitarian mission. The second major difference is that the United States’ President did not lead the call for action, like Bush did in 2003. It was French President Nicolas Sarkosy that was the first one to call for intervention in Libya, for the purpose of Gadhafi’s crimes against humanity.
The United States’ Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, was also very clear to say that there would be no U.S. boots on the ground in Libya. Although he didn’t say U.S. bombs would devastate Libyan soil, it is important that he did not send thousands of U.S. troops to Libya, as Bush did in 2003. One final and important piece is that the Libyan conflict had much less of chance of becoming a dragged out conflict. Although I don’t believe Bush thought the conflict in Iraq would last nearly ten years, his calculations and predictions did not prove correct. The predictions of President Obama, and the coalition forces did.