Joe Scarborough rightly tags a particularly absurd nascent media narrative: that the GOP’s opposition to President Obama’s Libya intervention constitutes “isolationism.” It doesn’t. First, to ascribe a particular ideological label to the Republican Party’s position here posits an actual, unitary, coherent worldview. Maybe that’s a reasonable assumption with other major political actors, but the Republican Party’s only worldview since 2008 has been opportunism. Functionaries perceive Obama as vulnerable on Libya, so they attack. There’s nothing more behind it, and certainly no principles in play.
Second, Joe is right that there’s substantial daylight between a principled opposition to the Libya intervention, and isolationism. But his description of a unitary “Bush-Obama style of warfare” demonstrates an unwillingness to apply that same scrutiny elsewhere. It should go without saying that beginning a small-scale intervention, without troop commitment and acting only with true international support, is distinct from the unilateral commencement of an all-out ground war (though we shouldn’t “forget Poland“). The two Presidents’ goals are similar: the reshaping of a region into something more favorable to American interests. But the difference between the means employed to that end speaks to a vast difference between the two men — one obvious anytime you look at the price tag of Bush’s adventure, both in lives and in dollars.
Libya proves that Obama shares with Bush a certain willingness to fight and, at an abstract level, comfort with deploying military force to protect American interests. But I don’t believe it speaks to any other similarity whatsoever. Not all military actions are created equal.