On a street corner in Washington, D.C., outside the Cato Institute, there’s a metal box that controls traffic signals. During the Bush years there was hardly a day that it didn’t sport a poster advertising an antiwar march or simply denouncing President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. But the marches and the posters seemed to stop on election day 2008.
Maybe antiwar organizers assumed that they had elected the man who would stop the war. After all, Barack Obama rose to power on the basis of his early opposition to the Iraq war and his promise to end it. But after two years in the White House he has made both of George Bush’s wars his wars.
In October 2007, Obama proclaimed, “I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.” Speaking of Iraq in February 2008, candidate Barack Obama said, “I opposed this war in 2002. I will bring this war to an end in 2009. It is time to bring our troops home.” The following month, under fire from Hillary Clinton, he reiterated, “I was opposed to this war in 2002… .I have been against it in 2002, 2003, 2004, 5, 6, 7, 8 and I will bring this war to an end in 2009. So don’t be confused.”
Indeed, in his famous “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow” speech on the night he clinched the Democratic nomination, he also proclaimed, “I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that … this was the moment when we ended a war.”
Today, however, he has tripled President Bush’s troop levels in Afghanistan, and we have been fighting there for more than nine years. The Pentagon has declared “the official end to Operation Iraqi Freedom and combat operations by United States forces in Iraq,” but we still have 50,000 troops there, hardly what Senator Obama promised.
And now Libya. In various recent polls more than two‐thirds of Americans have opposed military intervention in Libya. No doubt many of them voted for President Obama.
There’s another issue with the Libyan intervention: the president’s authority to take the country to war without congressional authorization. As many bloggers noted over the weekend, in 2007 Barack Obama told Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe,