Inhofe Then Inhofe Now
As I posted earlier, I’m opposed to military strikes against Syria right now, but the issue has predictably created some blatant hypocrisy among formerly hawkish Republican politicians, most notably U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe.
Inhofe, the ranking GOP member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has now publicly stated his opposition to President Barack Obama’s plan to strike Syria military targets following an alleged Aug. 21 sarin gas attack ordered by the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad.
After a classified briefing on Syria last week, Inhofe released a statement that included this:
I’ve said repeatedly the President must first explain our objectives and end state in Syria, present a long-term strategy for the region and the means to fund it, as well as clarify the risks associated with military intervention. Despite several years of bloodshed, we’re just now seeing a last minute rush by the White House to gain the support of Congress and the American people. Until the President comes forward with answers to these questions, no one should vote to authorize an act of war on Syria.
Where was this reasonable tone a few years ago when former President George Bush dragged the country into a long military occupation of Iraq based on lies and misinformation about weapons of mass destruction? It’s difficult not to note the similarities between the reasoning for action against Iraq in 2003 and Syria now.
Here’s what Inhofe had to say about Iraq before American forces invaded the country in 2003:
Our intelligence system has said that we know that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction -- I believe including nuclear. There's not one person on this panel who would tell you unequivocally that he doesn't have the missile means now, or is nearly getting the missile means to deliver a weapon of mass destruction. And I for one am not willing to wait for that to happen.
Note the absurd reference to “nuclear.” Let’s be clear: Inhofe was an ardent supporter of the Iraq military occupation throughout its history, even though the entire premise for the initial invasion was based on the misinformation he and others presented to the American people. This is because it was an action pushed by a Republican president rather than a Democratic president.
Inhofe’s new clarity is obviously a political move. It shows us how untruthful the political process can be especially when it involves life and death issues like bombings and war. Inhofe, like most of his Republican colleagues in Washington, just wants Obama to lose political points.
Here’s Inhofe in 2007 about the so-called Iraq “surge”:
A majority of the Senate voted to give General Petraeus until mid-September to implement a successful new surge strategy, and any effort to cut short this timeline and set an arbitrary withdrawal deadline is premature and irresponsible. The last thing we need is 535 ‘Generals’ in Congress telling our troops how to win this fight.
Here’s the current Inhofe:
Many members have expressed their concerns. We know this could be open ended; we know that an attack on Syria could have repercussions on Israel; but no one is talking about the decimation of our military. Today we can afford to launch 30 cruise missile into Syria, but we cannot ignore that such an attack on another country is an act of war.
We can presume Inhofe is referring to “members” of the Senate committee. Suddenly, it’s not only okay for “535 Generals” to dictate American military policy but also paramount. Inhofe’s hypocrisy, the difference between then and now, is appalling, but he won’t be held accountable by the corporate media here.
Obama will speak to the American public about Syria Tuesday evening, and I hope he mentions this Republican hypocrisy. That’s probably wishful thinking. Obama is more likely to use the same rhetorical scare tactics used by the former presidential administration to qualify the Iraq invasion.
Bush and the GOP, including Inhofe, took us into what they called a “war” that has cost more than $800 billion and resulted in the deaths of more than 4,000 American soldiers. Now, when a president asks for a supposed limited military action in the Middle East, some Republican hawks are using the same language and arguments made by those of us who opposed the action in Iraq.
The main problem here is that Inhofe won’t openly acknowledge how wrong he was about the situation in Iraq and how costly the war has been to our country. If he would admit how wrong he was, his position on Syria would seem more sincere and credible.