Like President Obama, Jim Webb won a U.S. Senate seat in large part based on his opposition to the Iraq War, a conflict that dominated Democratic primary politics between 2004 and 2008 and support for which probably sank Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions.
Webb has been out-front on the issue since his election in 2006, and his concern about foreign conflict includes the president’s recent, seemingly humanitarian incursion in Libya.
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Webb lambasted the manner in which the conflict was begun.
“The reasons that he used for going in defy historical precedent. We weren’t under attack. We weren’t under an imminent attack. We weren’t honoring treaty commitments. We weren’t rescuing Americans,” he said.
“We need to be clear that once Gadhafi is gone, we won’t have Americans in there as a peacekeeping force. We’ve got to stop this addiction. We’ve got to focus on our true strategic interests,” he argued, drawing a line between the Iraq War he and Obama both rejected and the Libya intervention that has a broader base of support in the Democratic Party but that nonetheless faces criticism from the left and right.
“I really don’t believe that we have an obligation to get involved in every single occurrence in that part of the world,” Webb went on.
Obama will be looking to burnish his anti-war credentials in the run-up to his reelection bid, and the large drawdown from Iraq–and the smaller one announced last week from Afghanistan–should be considered at least in part through that prism.
But getting flack from such a respected national security voice, especially one who has credibility with the Democratic base on these issues, is hardly what the political team at 1600 Pennsylvania wants right now. Keep an eye on this in the context of Obama trying to restore the luster of his anti-war bonafides while sticking to his guns on an intervention he clearly thought was necessary.