I’ve been doing some more thinking about President Obama’s decision to lend military aid to Libyan rebels. I’ve critiqued the decision on constitutional grounds—he never consulted Congress. Then I thought about Ronald Reagan’s decision to send troops to Grenada back in 1983. He didn’t consult Congress either. Neither did he do so when he bombed Libya [and the same Qaddafi] in 1985. So that leaves a person open to criticism that a double standard exists.
There are distinct differences, however.
With respect to Grenada, Reagan had a couple of things to consider: first, all the other island nations in the region begged the U.S. for help, fearing that once the Soviets totally controlled Grenada, they might be next; second, there were 800 American medical students in the country. Any advance notice of a military strike would have risked making those students hostages, as our embassy personnel in Iran had been under Carter. Reagan had to move without public debate to ensure their safety. When the operation was over, a few Democratic congressmen started an impeachment movement; it went nowhere because even the Democratic House Speaker Tip O’ Neill agreed with Reagan’s decision.
By the way, those medical students were thrilled to be rescued. Reagan later received them at the White House.
With respect to his bombing of Libya, that was in direct response to Qaddafi’s financing of terrorism, culminating in a bomb at a West Berlin nightclub that killed one American serviceman and injured another 200. Any president has the right to respond to an attack on American citizens.
When George W. Bush sent the military into both Afghanistan and Iraq, it was with congressional approval from both parties. Yet some Democrats, and the liberal left as a whole, have never ceased to castigate him for his actions. He was the devil personified in their eyes.
Yet how do they treat the current president when he sends the military into action—without congressional approval?
They have their enablers as well:
If you want to meditate on a real double standard, I offer this as a fitting subject for such meditation.