The Difference Between Barack Obama and George W Bush

Last night President Barack Obama announced that he had ordered airstrikes against ISIL positions in northern Iraq.

He didn’t do this to secure oil fields. He didn’t do this to project US power in the Middle East. He didn’t do this in some sort of misplaced revenge.

He did this, as he stated quite clearly, to prevent a genocide.

The Yazidi community—descendants of the Zoroastrians who used to rule the area—has come under attack by the militants of ISIL. ISIL’s intent is clear: wipe out the community. Whether it be starvation in the mountains or slaughter on the plains is of no matter to them. (Although I think those brainwashed fundamentalists would love nothing more than to mow down unarmed men, women, and children.)

Of course, ISIL is a direct result of the chaos unleashed by former president George W. Bush in 2003 with his invasion of Iraq. No, I’m not carrying water for Saddam Hussein. He was a murderous, psychopathic dictator. However, he maintained a level of stability via his terror. The Bush Administration had no plan for what would replace Saddam, Donald Rumsfeld famously saying that US troops would be out of Iraq within six months. Six months turned into seven years, while Mr. Bush’s best and brightest were found out to be the worst and dullest, fumbling around for one solution after another which never worked out. The solution finally decided upon—the regime of Nouri Al-Maliki and his Shi’ite maximalists—was probably the worst possible choice. Replacing a Sunni dictatorship with a Shi’a dictatorship proved not only hypocritical, but suicidal. Mr. al-Maliki, for all his venality, hasn’t been able to project the terror which Saddam did to keep the various sects in line. And the Iraq invasion unleashed all sorts of ethnic and confessional demands. But most importantly, al Qaeda, which had never been in Iraq or the greater Middle East before 2003, suddenly found purchase amidst the chaos. Mr. Bush’s lie that the US invaded Iraq to fight AQ became true after the hornet’s nest he stirred up. ISIL is a direct descendant of those first AQ cadres. So, as with our support of Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s leading to the formation of al Qaeda, our invasion of Iraq has led to predictable blowback in the form of ISIL.

Every time Mr. Bush had the chance to do the right thing in response to the 9/11 attacks, he chose to fulfill neo-conservative wet dreams of remaking the Middle East in America’s image, and subservient to US interests. And he never seemed to be bothered by the thousands of people—Americans and Iraqis—he sent to death.

Pres. Obama is quite different.

As far back as 2002 he was making his opposition to the Iraq adventure known, at a time when it was still quite popular among the public. He foresaw the possible blowback—blowback with which he now has to deal as president.

As president, he’s taken limited military action when needed: the air war over Libya, drone attacks against militants, surging in Afghanistan to stabilize the country so that the US could then withdraw. But much more often, he has relied on diplomacy: the Syrian civil war, the crisis in Ukraine, and issuing the harshest language a US government has issued against Israel since former secretary of state James Baker’s famous tirade in 1991.

And now, in an effort to avoid a shameful massacre, he has ordered US planes to bomb ISIL positions so that Kurdish troops can move against the militants and save the Yazidi. Notice the difference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush: the former is acting to prevent a humanitarian disaster; the latter acted to create one.

But, more importantly, is what Pres. Obama isn’t doing. He’s not sending in ground troops. He’s made it clear that there is no US military solution to the Iraqi civil war—a civil war created as a result of Mr. Bush’s invasion. The US can support a peace process, it can provide limited military aid to stanch the rolling of ISIL. But it has lost all legitimacy in imposing a solution.

And that is what drives Pres. Obama’s critics like former vice president Dick Cheney mad. They are besotted with the idea of the United States as the world’s new empire, imposing its values and forms on the world. Pres. Obama is quite aware that to exert US influence, it has to be done in coalitions of equals, with the coalition members on the same page as to goals and objectives. Carrier aircraft are unable to solve most of the world’s problems; but persistent, public diplomacy can.

Mr. Bush—or any of the hopeful GOP candidates since 2008—would have already sent in the Marines, to start another cycle of blood. The hammer is the only tool in their tool box. As Vladimir Putin is learning, it’s usually the wrong tool.

I, like most Americans, don’t want more war. And Pres. Obama, by his actions, is helping to ensure that there will be no US boots on the ground of Mesopotamia. As an added goal, he may just prevent a genocide. That’s the man I voted for twice.

114 Responses to “The Difference Between Barack Obama and George W Bush”

  1. 39 HG
    August 8, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    An excellent post. This is why we sleep well at night knowing we have a responsible adult in the Oval Office, unlike in 2001-2009.

  2. 40 Vicki
    August 8, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Good post, LL.
    Just want to add that in addition to “the US as the world’s new emperor, imposing its values on the world” I’d add, US looting and plundering in every place it can do so. Oh and detroying its infrastructure, antiquities, art work, and anything else in their path. That is the Cheney Plan.

  3. August 8, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    • 42 vcprezofan2
      August 8, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Hmmm. Pete’s tuning in to the ‘fashion’ aspects of his FLOTUS pics? Well, what do ya know? 😀 Truth is I hadn’t noticed the bracelets at all and I had run through all the pics.

  4. August 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm

  5. August 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    you are absolutely on point. thank you LL

  6. 50 MadameSoph
    August 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Another wonderful post by LL!

    LL, I think you are off running errands right now, but in case you read this later, just wanted to also compliment you on your post from a couple of days ago, “annals in ‘missing the point'” You were spot-on! I’ll never forget when PBO made his speech about how it was time to move on from the “War on Terror” thinking, take another look at the Patriot Act practices (and this was BEFORE Snowden and GG began their big “look at me” stunt), scale back the MIC, etc. He was in the middle of urging Congress to let him close Guantanamo (AGAIN) and the code pink lady started yelling and interrupting him; she wasn’t even paying attention to the fact that he was on her side!

    Loved this in your piece:
    “Too often on the Left people have an image of Barack Obama as Rush Limbaugh’s “Barack the Magic Negro”: he’ll come in waving his hands and make everything better! And when they’re brought back to reality that politics is hard, dirty work, and nothing is guaranteed, the yelling commences, in expectation that by harrangues the Overton Window will magically move leftwards. The fact is that his voters were unsatisfied with his progress up to 2010, or were lured by the siren song of the Tea Party, and by not turning out to vote—”We voted in 2008! That’s all we thought we had to do!”—were responsible for the dysfunction in our politics since then.”

    Amen! Thanks LL!

    P.S. Your doggie is adorable!

  7. August 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Thank you, LL, for clearly explaining how ISIS relates to GWB/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice actions in 2003.

    It’s infuriating that the harshest criticism of PBO appears to be coming from the emoprog/emoputin left, who apparently lack the ears/eyes needed to listen/see what PBO says, regardless of circumstance — whether it’s in front of the white elite media (WHC jackals) or in front of thousands overseas. His consistency and genuineness and honesty cannot be denied, yet the emoprogs/emoputins continue to wildly speculate.

    I heard on the radio around noon that McCain/Graham both support the President’s actions.

    I’ve also heard/seen very little opposition from the GOP/MSM on last night’s announcement.

    The only voices of dissent I’ve heard are from Dems, specifically Chris Murphy (CT Senator) who apparently chose not to hear what President Obama said last night.

    • 52 vcprezofan2
      August 8, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      ‘I heard … that McCain/Graham both support the President’s actions.
      I’ve also heard/seen very little opposition from the GOP/MSM on last night’s announcement.’

      Arapaho, not attacking you, but IMO this doesn’t mean much.
      a) Consider, if we give credence to these ‘jokers’ approval under this circumstance, shouldn’t we give credence when they are yelling in opposition? I won’t because they never seem to have rational rationale 😉 behind the positions they take.

      b) I do not find their response (to anything) nuanced – PBO approved strikes; they favour strikes for everything; they’re happy.

      • 53 japa21
        August 8, 2014 at 5:01 pm

        Actually they approve the President’s actions to a point, but believe he should do more up to and possibly including boots on the ground.

  8. 55 japa21
    August 8, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    To get serious for a moment, LL you are spot on. There is not just a different President in the House, but a whole different perspective on the world as well. I remember back in the days of my youth (which is a long time ago) when we were taught of the conept of Manifest Destiny as how the US justified everything id did here and abroad. At the time, my teacher ( a good one) taught about this as if it was something negative about us without actually coming out and saying it was a stupid idea and approach.

    Nowadays, though, although you seldom hear the term anymore, it is the exact philosophy behind much of the neocons approach. God demands and backs our doing whatever we want to imprint ourselves everywhere. I am sure the TP and neocons would try to get any teacher fired who taught like mine did and questioned in any way that philosophy.

  9. 56 Dudette
    August 8, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Hi Everyone!

    VA Secretary Bob McDonald is holding a press conference now. It’s streaming on 11Alive’s website in Atlanta but I can see streams at work. No mention on CSpan website so far.

  10. 61 Dudette
    August 8, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    More razor-sharp analysis from LL! Thank you for this post! Everyone in the country should read it!

  11. August 8, 2014 at 4:55 pm

  12. August 8, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    AUGUST 8, 2014

    State Department Briefing


    Marie Harf briefed reporters and responded to questions on a variety of international issues.



  13. August 8, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    • 68 vcprezofan2
      August 8, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Thanks for compilation, Bobfr! Much appreciated.

    • 69 vcprezofan2
      August 8, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      One thing I don’t get about twitter – an informative tweet like this one will get a handful of retweets, if sender is ‘lucky’, but more asinine, or rude/tacky, or irrelevant ‘social’ tweets will get 100s, 1000s of retweets within the blink of an eye. You would think Dems would push the informative, encouraging, etc. etc. tweets with greater ardour than they do tweets about celebrities or whatever, especially as November approaches. /smh/

      • August 8, 2014 at 7:01 pm

        Agree, VC. But, if I can get at least some folk to read and a few to RT then maybe it’s helpful given the multiplicative nature of networks of networks.

        Thank you.

        #LandslideDEMS2014 …. Lives depend on it ….

        • 71 vcprezofan2
          August 8, 2014 at 7:08 pm

          Your tweets *are* helpful, Bfr. I was only lamenting because sometimes I see tweets that I consider really stupid and pointless and yet they have *thousands* of retweets, and right close by I’ll see something meaningful or helpful and it will have, maybe, 11, 25, 40 retweets. Ah well! :-/

    • August 8, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      She does not mince words….Oooooooo weeeeeeeeeee….

  14. 78 JER
    August 8, 2014 at 5:04 pm

  15. 79 JER
    August 8, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    • 80 dotster3
      August 8, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      Even tho Abby Huntsman thinks he needs to cancel his vacay and “hunker down in the White House”???

      (I couldn’t believe all the people whose first thought at the news last night was to salivate over the possibility that it would mess up PBO’s vacation—–so juvenile, like being secretly gleeful that the popular h.s. QB lost the big game, or some such petty jealousy)

  16. 81 vcprezofan2
    August 8, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Smartypants has a short post up today that dovetails quite nicely with Lib_L’s. Go check it out.

    ‘In May President Obama gave a big speech at West Point outlining his approach to foreign policy. Perhaps because it wouldn’t fit on a bumper sticker (“You’re either with us or against us”), people didn’t pay too much attention.

    Last night the President summed it all up.


  17. 84 Vicki
    August 8, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    As was noted earlier today, Big Eddie is dubious about our actions in Iraq.

    He is as bad as any Repub in that he reflexively doubts PBO.

    Personally, when I saw the Vice News video of the ISIS pychopaths doing donuts on their tanks and yelling about placing their flag on the White House, I signed on to being openminded about whatever the Pentagon considers necessary to protect the Kurds.

  18. 85 hopefruit2
    August 8, 2014 at 5:12 pm

  19. August 8, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    • 94 vcprezofan2
      August 8, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      Apart from the fact this seems farfetched for my non-scientific, non-legal (note I didn’t say illegal 😉 ) mind, I don’t get the point of such a verdict. Charging his assassin would be pointless at this point, and Mr. Brady’s family has already lived with the fact for years that this particular assassin destroyed his life. I really don’t get the point. Any insights?

      • August 8, 2014 at 5:56 pm

        It struck me as really odd too VC, but I suppose if the death can be linked to the shooting then there’s probably no legal alternative? Strange, though.

        • 96 vcprezofan2
          August 8, 2014 at 6:02 pm

          Weird, indeed, I think. In addition, the killer is already in a mental institution, so he’s unlikely to be charged, and if charged, it won’t go far. Ah well. It’s at least an ‘interesting’ bit of info for us non-legal types.

    • 97 Nena20409
      August 8, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      I get the point. But the shooter was found to be insane. I know that the family believes that James Brady’s death was caused by the shooting. Yes….mostly true. But with fate, destiny, etc……who is to say what life would have had for him. Hinckley is living a life, but what a life……so Karma will do him justice.

  20. August 8, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    And I’m home. For literally 10 minutes.

  21. August 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Hey Chips, did you notice some “liberal” argle bargling at us that both PBO and GWB are “stupid”? Happily blocked him and his 40 followers.

    • August 8, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      I did LL 🙂 Yes, a Liberal who sees no difference between PBO and GWB. Oh, I do love that block button.

      • 103 vcprezofan2
        August 8, 2014 at 5:56 pm

        Chips, it’s been a lo-o-o-ong while since you have shared ONE of those lunatics’ masterpiece with us for a good laugh. Have they ALL been so terribly vicious and pathetic that no laughter can be squeezed from one?

  22. 107 Dakota
    August 8, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    OMG! We’ve got an All-Williams semi-final at the Rogers Cup! Haven’t had one of those in a long time! Venus is playing like her 20 year old self!

  23. 108 dotster3
    August 8, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    There are so many great people like Dorothy everywhere working to get out the Dem vote in their communities. We need to win this Ia. Sen. race —–Dem Bruce Braley vs. Ted Cruz BFF, nullification and impeachment fan and tea party darling, Joni Ernst. (and mean piggie deballer)

  24. 110 desertflower
    August 8, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Great piece, LL…Thom Hartmann was busy connecting these dots for people today. Once again ( STILL!) cleaning up after Bush and Co. Grateful every single day for President Obama. EVERY DAMN DAY!

  25. 112 sjterrid
    August 8, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Another excellent piece, LL!

  26. 113 Nena20409
    August 8, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Beautiful Piece LL.
    You know how to hit it perfectly.

    Just one thing…..it was since 2002….that then state senator Obama was against the Iraq war. He called it a dumb war.

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