I am confused.

The Catholic left condemned President Bush and the Iraq War.

Why is the Catholic left not condemning President Obama and what he is doing in Libya?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Teresa-1962 says:

    In a word: hypocrits.

  2. wmeyer says:

    After all your years of seeing the left in action, how can you be confused? ;-)

  3. Fr. Basil says:

    I was against the invasion of Iraq–and later that of Afghanistan since the objective, finding Osama bin Ladin, was not being accomplished–and I’m also against the war in Libya.

    I feel that they are NOT in the best interests of the USA.

    Where does this put me? [Raising a question about one side doesn’t imply anything about the other. People can have legitimate different approaches to this situation. But there is an inconsistency on the left.]

  4. Teresa-1962 says:

    @ Fr. Basil

    I would say it makes you “consistent” in your views. But this isn’t really about “your” view, it’s about those who found every action Pres. Bush took “wrong” and see every action that Pres. Obama takes as “right” despite the fact that they are very similar.

  5. alan says:

    In the minds of most of those on the left, people on the left are good, altruistic, unselfish people and those on the right are selfish, evil, and out for themselves only.

    With that as the premise, whatever the left does is, by definition, good and whatever the right does is evil.

    It is that simple.

    @fr basil – to me, that puts you in the category of “smarter than me”, as I only recently came around to your view :-)

  6. revs96 says:

    The Catholic left is a bunch of cafeteria Catholics. They pick and choose what to support and what to reject. This comes as no surprise.

  7. o.h. says:

    To be fair, just last evening NPR was talking about this very issue: how many on the left are, in fact, quite upset about the President’s military adventurism in Libya.

  8. digdigby says:

    I hate to sound cruel but you were recently speaking of ‘confounding’ our enemies. Islam is our enemy, the enemy of Christ and above all the enemy of the infinitely beautiful souls that it enslaves. Confounding our enemies means to leave them to slaughter one another Shiite against Sunni, Gaddafi against al-qaeda etc. and to MYOB, especially as our ‘post-God democracies’ have nothing to offer them except 24/7 porn and hi-tech weaponry.

  9. Andrew says:

    This is not my view, but it might explain the position of certain individuals or groups: Obama went to Libya in support of a civilian uprising, whereas there was no uprising in Iraq when Bush went there.

  10. Andrew does have a point; the cases are not precisely parallel.

    (Is there any warrant in Just War theory for using military force to intervene in a situation like this – if we assume for the sake of argument that the government the populace is uprising against is in fact tyrannical?)

    Even if the answer to the preceding is ‘yes’, I would still not be comfortable with *this* case, because our prior history in the Middle East makes it unlikely that we are really doing so from the right motives.

  11. Eric says:

    I input all the pertinent information into my logic machine and it spit out the answer, “Because Obama is a really good guy.”

  12. Centristian says:

    Does the Nobel Commission give Carl XVI Gustaf a prize for Irony to hand out, I wonder? If so, I think I know who should get it.

    I am in the Catholic center and I didn’t support Dubya’s right to speak in public (it was always an excruciating thing to be subjected to), much less his “War ‘nainst Tara”. I find our meddling in Libya even more baffling, however, considering that our incumbent Commander-in-Chief was supposed to bring an end to all our “wars”, not to continue them and then start some new ones on top of them.

    Why do American administrations always manage to convince themselves that other peoples are incapable of determining their own destinies without American intervention? “We must help the Libyan people overcome this brutal dictator.” Wait…we MUST? Why MUST we? Why not let the Libyan people determine their own destiny, fight their own internal conflict, and let the chips fall where they may?

    Or if it has to be the case that every issue in the Middle East must be exacerbated by the unwelcome intervention of a foreign power, why can we not let China, or Russia, or Germany, or India get in there and make matters worse? Why must it always be the USA?

    If Catholics on the Left are silent about this, it could be hypocrisy, on the one hand, but it could be astonished confusion on the other hand. Disbelief that Obama didn’t turn out to be the peerless, liberal Superman that they’ve tried to portray him as. He isn’t the man of steel, after all…just a politician…made of the same stuff as Dubya.

    If I were a liberal, I’d shut up at this point, too.

  13. Pachomius says:

    Presumably, because this was is legal under international law, and the US is not seen to be at the forefront of it.

    Not that Catholics have any business being left, right, Conservative, Labour, Democrat, or Republican, in any case.

  14. Brad says:

    Digdigby: I have realized lately that high-tech weaponry is a form of porn. I’m so sick of this world’s raunchy anti-gospel everything-ness.

  15. Philangelus says:

    Because they’re being tolerant.

  16. Dennis Martin says:

    Dear o.h.,

    I rather think Fr. Z’s point is not that the Catholic Left is undisturbed by Dear Reader’s wonderful (mis)adventure but that, being disturbed, they are nonetheless silent.

    They screamed at the top of their lungs when Dubya did it.

    Now they furrow their brows and quietly among themselves whisper their disturbness. [Exactly… and thanks for that new word…”disturbness”.]

    That’s the contrast.

    And the hypocrisy.

    To answer Fr. Z’s question, why the silence?

    Because they are Leftists first and Catholic second. But not all. The “not all” are the Catholic Leftists now speaking at the top of their lungs. All three of them.

    Some political conservatives are Rightists first and Catholics second. But not all of us, even though Catholic Leftists often accuse us of that. That’s okay. We know the difference.

  17. xgenerationcatholic says:

    “This is not my view, but it might explain the position of certain individuals or groups: Obama went to Libya in support of a civilian uprising, whereas there was no uprising in Iraq when Bush went there.” OK, then what did Obama do to support the uprising in Iran?

  18. Dennis Martin says:

    Of course, the other possible explanation for the deafening silence is that, if one is a Leftist, one sees people only through categories of race and class. Our President belongs to a particular race. To Leftists, criticism of a member of that race is racist.

    So, even if one is disturbed by the Great Libyan Misadventure, one dare not more than whisper one’s disturbedness. For Leftists would not wish to be racist. Of course, viewing all persons first and foremost through the lens of race is, well, just a tad racist. (Though I think it’s probably racist to write what I just wrote. One ought not point each and every sort of racism, only Approved Types of Racism. And criticizing members of certain races is an Approved Type of racism. So Catholic Leftist deal manfully with their disturbness, quietly and among themselves.)

  19. MichaelJ says:

    While expressing “apprehention”, the USCCB says that the present action in Libya
    “appears to meet the traditional criterion of ‘just cause'”

  20. PghCath says:

    It seems that liberals come in two stripes with regard to foreign policy: on the one hand there are the doves; on the other, there are those who want the U.S. military to act like international policemen to take out the bad guy du jour.

    For those in the latter group, the Iraq War should have been just as attractive as the Libya action is. The difference is justification. In their view, President Obama informed the public that Libya is not a threat to the US and that America is going to engage in a gratuitous peacekeeping mission. On the other hand, they believe that President Bush was less than forthright about the Iraq War in that he embellished evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

    As it is, I’ve heard Libya called the perfect “liberal war”: it’s supported by the UN and the “international community” and is being fought with planes instead of ground troops. If ground troops are introduced into the mix, I see support for the Libya mission plummeting among liberals and conservatives alike.

  21. anilwang says:

    I think it’s pretty simple. Human nature.

    The left is likely not happy with Libya, but think Obama is the lesser of two evils and that he has advanced the cause of the left enough to make the occasional mistake. They might even hold their nose and defend Libya from criticism, not because they agree with it, but because they don’t want this issue to be a wedge issue that will be used to weaken Obama.

    The right does the same thing, and at a personal level, we all do. Think of your parents. Are they perfect? No. Do you criticize them in private? Likely. Will you let others, especially people who hate them, criticize them? Likely not!

  22. SimonDodd says:

    I don’t think it’s that difficult to understand, even if one doesn’t agree. They—”they” meaning liberals who opposed Iraq and support Libya, which by no means = “all liberals”—believe, I think, that we went to war with Iraq for purely selfish reasons, whereas our motives in Libya are purely altruistic. Remember the slogan from the demonstrations against Iraq? It wasn’t “no war” (apart from a few outliers), it was “no war for oil.” Their take is this: When we have no vested interest in the outcome, unilateral use of force is just war, and when we do, it generally isn’t. Now, you can of course disagree with them (as I do), and point out the practical limits of that view (are our motives in Korea altruistic or self-interested?) but I don’t think it’s difficult to grasp the essentials of what their position is.

  23. Geoffrey says:

    It shows that there are those who embrace their political party more than the Faith of their Church. And the same can be said about Republicans, and any other political party/faction. No one political party embodies the Catholic Faith.

  24. torch621 says:

    It’s quite simple really; for the Catholic left, a war is only “unjust” when it’s being waged by a Republican.

  25. Bryan Boyle says:

    because…they’re hypocrites?

    Let’s see…
    iraq: brutal islamic-in-name dictator? Check. (just ask the Kurds)
    libya: brutal islamic-in-name dictator? Check.

    iraq: Known sponsor of terrorism? Check. (Al-qaeda funding, safe houses, etc.)
    libya: Known sponsor of terrorism? Check. (Lockerbie anyone? Certainly quieted down when RR dropped a bomb down the fireplace of one of his palaces)

    iraq: people subjugated and living in fear? Check.
    libya: who knows, but one can assume that they did not speak out. Still to be determined. Semi-check.

    iraq: military action started by Bush (causes libs and MSM to quiver in anger) with permission of Congress and the UN without a clear exit strategy? Check.
    libya: “kinetic military activity” (IOW putting our troops into harm’s way) commanded by Obama (causes libs and MSM to swoon in adoration) without sanction of Congress (after all, HE decides what’s constitutional or not) before UN gets around to deciding…without a clear exit strategy? Check. Oops.

    iraq: remove said brutal dictator and hopefully establish a democratic gov’t? Semi-check
    libya: ?

    USCCB: talks out of both sides of their mouth. No surprise. They don’t know HOW to respond, since they’ve pretty much stuck their heads, as a corporate group, into the Democrat barrel of kool-aid up to the 4th cervical vertebra. So, their hero and corporate messiah has cover (just war) while they save themselves some wiggle room with ‘reservations’. Such nuance.

    It will be interesting to see how much $$$ GE gets to ‘help rebuild’ libya. And whether the MSM will be as critical of their involvement as they were with Haliburton, et al, post-2003…

  26. @SimonDodd: Indeed. I think it is basically a fear of becoming imperialist/colonialist — the idea is that our economic interests (oil) were involved in Iraq.

    If this really does fit a ‘just cause’ … then I wouldn’t have any problem with it in vacuo. The problems, to me, are
    a) what it means/becomes on top of our history in the last few decades. If our economic interests were dangerous in Iraq, they are probably so here too — the involvement is less direct, but I am not convinced an oil-greedy nation like ours can do military action in the Middle East/Islamosphere from just motives at all (except in the most direct self-defense; and the Romans managed to build an empire on what they thought was self-defense!).
    b) the prudential aspect. Can we, or the popular uprising, really put in something better that will last? Democracy does not seem to work well in an Islamic culture — Turkey has managed it largely by pushing religion out of the public sphere, and it’s pretty unique.

  27. Andy Milam says:

    I hate to answer a question with a question, but…..

    Could it be the ties between the CCHD and Saul Alinsky and Barak Obama?

    I’m just sayin’….

  28. moon1234 says:

    I don’t think the US has attacked Lybia. I think Obama has attacked Lybia. He has usurped his roll as president and appointed himself king. I was shocked to see that the armed forces blindly obeys his command.

    This to me was a test by Obama to see how much power he really can wield. If the US military will blindly follow his orders with no approval from congress, then we are no longer living in a republic. Isn’t this the SAME thing that happened in the Weimar republic?

    Either we are a Christian Nation of Laws or we are ruled by a depot monarch who does whatever he wants, whenever he wants with the Military backing him.

    All of the most recent wars have been unjust. They seek not for an outcome to protect the country, but rather for power over people, resources and territory. This is regime change and global domination pure and simple. It is transparent to all who are willing to see it for what it is.

    Our blessed Mother warned Japan in the apparitions at Akita. I believe that Japan, and the world, is suffering and will suffer further for not heeding her calls for peace and conversion. These wars and death will continue to spread until man realizes that he is not master of the univerase and his own fate. Only with a true faith in God and his son Jesus Christ will man ever be able to live peacsfully on this earth.

    “Most Holy Mother of God. Never let me be separated from your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your special child. Amen.”

    “. . . if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and the priests.”

    “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres (other priests). Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.”

    “The demon will be especially implacable against the souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them.”

    “. . . Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved.”

    All, Please heed our Blessed Mother’s Warning

    If Fukushima is not part of this, then I am very afraid of what is to come.

  29. Brad says:

    Or Lady of Akita: “The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…”

    …and Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, `Lo, this [one] is set for the falling and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against — (and also thine own soul shall a sword pass through) — that the reasonings of many hearts may be revealed.

  30. markomalley says:

    Why is the Catholic left not condemning President Obama and what he is doing in Libya?

    Republican war = bad

    Democrat war = good

  31. cothrige says:

    Among the strange inconsistencies is that of Biden, then and now. Click here to watch an excerpt of an interview our current Vice President, then senator, did on MSNBC in 2007 in which he speaks about impeaching Bush if congressional approval was not first attained for any potential action against Iran. Where is he now regarding President Obama who did exactly that in the case of Libya? I find the silence of Biden today very interesting, and telling.

  32. Martial Artist says:

    Just my tuppence worth, but I suspect that it is not simply sinful human nature and/or hypocrisy. Consider one of the foundational viewpoints of the left (i.e., of progressives, as a subset of humanity).

    They start from the premise that mankind is always “progressing” (hence their choice of label for themselves and their opinions). This implies that those who recognize that progress are somehow more knowledgeable than their nonprogressive fellows. That opinion of themselves inherently implies that those who see things from other perspectives are somehow deficient in their understanding of reality. That attitude in turn predisposes them to make favorable noises and nod their heads in agreement when one of their fellow progressives, particularly one as eminent as a POTUS makes the right vocal noises that reinforce their sense of moral and intellectual superiority, which, of course, comes right along with their belief in their own prescience in being progressive themselves.

    None of this is to say that conservatives cannot be overly certain of their moral and intellectual superiority, that is indeed a part of fallen humanity’s baggage. But the conservative and the libertarian start from different premises than does the progressive. The conservative wishes to “conserve” the moral and political principles upon which the modern world was built. The libertarian, especially the Old Whigs (of which I consider myself an example), recognizes that, especially in matters secular, people have different needs and desires. This predisposes the Old Whigs in particular toward an attitude that tends to treat self and others as adults, that is to tolerate the pursuit of what I desire that does not harm another, and to tolerate what another desires that harms neither myself nor a third party, and views this as very much a part of what being a free citizen is about. That leads, I think, to the inculcation in the individual so inclined to a degree of humility not generally inherent in either progressivism or progressives.

    I think Father Z’s confusion arises from an expectation on his part that the Left thinks matters through, analyzes the likely consequences of any particular choice of action in response to a specific situation and decides accordingly. I do not share that expectation, hence I am only very rarely surprised by the lemming-like behavior of the Left—most recently when I began to see vehicles driving about Seattle displaying bumper stickers indicating the owners had voted for Obama, and now, a year or more later, additional stickers indicating some degree of disenchantment with their hero.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  33. Clinton says:

    I believe the Catholic left is being hypocritical, but I believe that ‘hypocrisy’ is a concept that
    the Catholic left feels it has evolved beyond.

    Father, in your post on the USCCB Doctrine Committee and its evaluation of the inadequacies
    of Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s book above, you quoted the committee’s summation of her errors:
    “It effectively precludes the possibility of human knowledge of God through divine revelation
    and reduces all names and concepts of God to human constructions that are to be judged not
    on their accuracy… but on their social and political utility”. If both reason and divine revelation
    are useless, and Truth is impossible to determine, then hypocrisy (and honesty) become
    irrelevant concepts. There is no right, no wrong, and no sin but the sin of not advancing one’s

    Oddly, such a philosophy– that there is no knowing what is good and true, only what is
    socially and politically useful– does not address the question of how we are supposed to know
    that their agenda is a good and true agenda, and what is meant by ‘useful’. Now that’s
    where things get confusing…

  34. Jacob says:

    It is a known fact that the coalition backing Obama in his Libyan adventure is smaller than Bush’s coalition in Iraq. To claim that Obama has more of a mandate from the International Community than Bush did is just plain wrong. That is unless you give the UN absolute moral authority to dictate the will of the International Community as a whole.

    Father Z:
    Back awhile ago when Obama came out with his refusal to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, you characterized it as a betrayal. My comment was kind of harsh when I said that it wasn’t surprising at all. I apologize for that. But my point stands that I made back then and is applicable now. Obama is making no effort to get Congress’s approval for his Libyan adventure. This ignoring of the War Powers Resolution does not surprise me in the slightest. His fundamental nature as a man is to ignore whatever does not help his chances at reelection. Not enforcing DOMA, going off to aid jihadis in Libya while ignoring the War Powers Resolution, these are all things that clearly illustrate that Obama is only out for himself.

    [I have to make a distinction. This really isn’t as much about what Pres. Obama is doing about Libya. People can agree or not agree with what he is doing. This post is about the lack of criticism from the Catholic left. It looks as if Pres. Obama is doing what Pres. Bush did. The left jumped all over Bush and continue to jump. They are not jumping all over Pres. Obama. At least I haven’t seen them to be. I hope you now understand the distinction.]

  35. catholicmidwest says:

    Because they’re a bunch of biased pharisees. They have their minds made up about everything, never mind the facts.

  36. Jordanes says:

    Dennis Martin said: Now they furrow their brows and quietly among themselves whisper their disturbness.

    I think you meant “disturbitude.” :-D

  37. EXCHIEF says:

    In the view of the left some people (Obama) because they are also leftists can do no wrong and those on the right (Bush) can do no right. Simple

  38. Only Democrats have the moral rectitude to charitably kill others.

  39. kelleyb says:

    President Obama used his brand spanking new “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine dreamed up by Samantha Powers, I believe. This is an humanitarian kinetic military action implemented by Obama, the genius as opposed to a military invasion conducted to protect our national interests by Bush, the (fill in the blank).
    He sold a bill of goods to the left under the guise of preventing genocide. This is rich because he participates in the wholesale genocide of the pre-born very single day.


  40. EXCHIEF says:

    You are absolutely right…and if his “responsibility to protect” were logically followed we would be in the Sudan, Darfur, the Congo and a whole lot of other countries where genocide is even worse than in Libya

  41. rakesvines says:

    With Bush, it was war. With Obama, it was a kinetic military action.
    Bush was defending Americans from WMD. Obama was defending civilians from a dictator. (Then again when civilians take up arms they become combatants. But that’s semantics.)
    Bush complied with the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (50 U.S.C. 1541–1548). Obama dispensed with that law, along with others e.g. eligibility requirements. Video here or go to http://divine-ripples.blogspot.com/2011/03/birthers-vindicated-with-4-irrefutable.html

  42. AnnAsher says:

    Here is what disturbs me. Otherwise intelligent people who glom to their left or right membership like international relations is just a team sport. Many people seem to have blinders on when it comes to their “team”. I hear people on the right, using the language and same supporting arguments to be anti lybia war that the lefters utilized to be anti Iraq war. The ignorance astounds me!
    So my answer is: because it’s their team now driving the same war, different location, no going against the team. ;)

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