There are those who say that the moral case of interfering in Libya is the same as the moral case against interfering with Iraq.
Case 1: A person charges into a neighbor's house, kills the head of the household, and claims that he did so in self defense. He asserts that the neighbor was going to harm him. This is in spite of the fact that the neighbor presented no clear and present danger. Further investigation shows that the neighbor did not even own a weapon and, furthermore, agents for the attacker had been in the house looking for such a weapon and finding none.
Case 2: A community, faced with clear evidence that the head of a household is engaged in the murder of his children in clear view of that community, organizes a comunity response to stop those murders.
I hold that these represent a proper analogy for examining the attacks against Iraq and Libya. The first case represents the invasion of Iraq, while the second represents the attack on Libya.
I am being told that I must not permit or endorse the Libya response because doing so endorses the actions of the agent in the Iraq case.
Ultimately, on the face of it, this is absurd.
In raising objections to Bush's attack on Iraq, I argued that Bush violated a basic principle of justice. Except in the case of an immediate act of self defense against a clear and present threat, an individual has an obligation to appeal his case to an impartial third party. The Bush Administration failed to do this.
Analogously, our attacker in Case 1 above simply asserts that his neighbor was a threat without providing any information and without any sign that the neighbor was going to launch an immediate attack.
In the case of Libya, there was an appeal to an impartial third party that endorsed the conclusion. A U.N. resolution was passed authorizing the use of force against Libya.
In the case of Iraq, no use of force was ever authorized. the Bush Administration attempted to get a resolution passed authorizing such an attack, but withdrew the attempt when it was seen that the resolution would almost certainly fail.
In fact, it appears that the only way Iraq could have avoided a US invasion would have been to turn over stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and weapons research it did not have. This would be like saying that the attacker in Case 1 was authorized to kill his neighbor unless his neighbor agreed to produce a weapon the neighbor did not have.
Granted, I am not spending all of my time studying the facts of the case in these situations and I may have missed some relevant facts. Yet, the facts that I do have - if they are true and complete - would suggest that there is a significant moral difference between these two cases, and many and strong reasons to condemn the first set of actions (the attack on Iraq) while endorsing the second (the attack on Libya).