Thursday, February 24, 2005

O'Reilly In Wonderland

As reported over at Media Matters, Bill O'Reilly recently echoed the claim coming from the right that the left did not decry civilian casualties when Clinton ordered the bombing of Yugoslavia.

Bullshit! Bullshit, I say! I call bullshit!

I was concerned about civilian casualties in Yugoslavia. I worried about whether US intervention was going to improve the situation or not, especially with Clinton's plan to bomb those carrying out ethnic cleansing into submission. It seemed to be the cowardly way out; the amount of bombing necessary to stop the ethnic cleansing seemed certain to kill and/or displace thousands upon thousands of civilians. I had my fears and doubts the whole time. Most of the people who didn't, ironically enough, seemed to be people who were more conservative than me.

The difference between Yugoslavia and Iraq, Mr. O'Reilly, is that in Yugoslavia there was a clear reason to attack -- to stop the ongoing genocide as required by the UN Genocide Convention. And Clinton actually told the American people the truth about why he wanted to go in. Bush didn't. So, naturally, when it turns out that the US' whole reason for going to war in Iraq was faulty, naturally some American become concerned about what is being done in their name for reasons they were never made aware of.

Also, I am very critical of Clinton's failure to intervene in the Rwandan genocide. I believe that it is right and proper, as the US agreed when it signed the Genocide Convention, for the US to intervene to stop genocides, as Clinton did in Yugoslavia and failed to do in Rwanda, and as Bush has failed to do in the Sudan.

I do not believe in invading countries because of ideologies that conted that the US can use military force to make other nations become democracies. I do not believe in invading countries in order to assuage the pride of the US or to settle a score with a foreign leader who tried to kill the President's father. I do not believe in invading countries just because we don't like them. And I especially don't agree with invading countries when it is not in the country's interest to do so, as was the case in Iraq.

And so, O'Reilly is not only lying about the lack of concern on the left about Clinton's policy in Yugoslavia, he is also intentionally comparing events of different kinds (that is to say, comparing apples to oranges). Comparing one's support for a war to stop a genocide to one's support of a war fought to prevent illusory WMD from falling into the hands of terrorists (despite the fact that Saddam was an enemy of the very terrorists he was supposedly going to give the WMD to) is just not an apt comparison. That is like accusing someone of being inconsistent because they supported WWII but didn't support the South seceding from the US at the beginning of the Civil War. They're different situations and one's opinions of them are bound to be different, as O'Reilly well knows.


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