In October 2002, US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York voted to authorize the Iraq War. In fact, Senator Clinton went beyond just voting for the bill; she took to the Senate floor and made an impassioned speech accusing then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of having weapons of mass destruction and providing sanctuary to Al Qaeda. Clinton also made it clear in her speech that she knew her vote could very well lead to war, but she would still “cast it with conviction.”
The war that followed in 2003 is likely to go down as one of the greatest military blunders in US history, if not one of the country’s greatest crimes. Hundreds of thousands of people killed, trillions of dollars spent, and the sowing of local and regional instability that further empowered Iran and led to the rise of ISIS.
And, of course, no weapons of mass destruction to be found.
For years Clinton defended her vote for the Iraq War. In 2004, Clinton said she did not regret her vote because it was proper at the time given the context of the threats facing the country and Hussein’s history. In 2006, she began altering her position to claim that the vote itself was not mistake, rather, President George W. Bush had abused his authority. She refused to say she made a mistake or regretted her vote through the 2008 Democratic presidential primary process which she lost, in part, due to her Iraq War positions.
But in 2014, now a former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton changed her position again and said in her book “Hard Choices” that “I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.” In 2015, Clinton stuck with that position and accepted the term “mistake” to describe her Iraq War vote.
So 12 years after voting for the Iraq War, Hillary Clinton finally conceded that she made a mistake. But did she learn anything from the Iraq War? The answer appears to be no.
In 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the charge by the Obama Administration to begin a military campaign in Libya. US and NATO forces helped Libyan rebels overthrow the government led by Muammar Gaddafi. The justification was to prevent a massacre that was supposedly imminent in Benghazi, Libya.
Clinton maneuvered behind the scenes to keep the NATO coalition together, as well as promote regime change as the ultimate goal. After the war, she claimed that “we set into motion a policy that was on the right side of history, on the right side of our values, on the right side of our strategic interests in the region.”
Gaddafi, who fled after the fall of his government, was eventually found, then tortured and killed by the rebels — something Clinton apparently found amusing when, in an interview with CBS News, she paraphrased Julius Caesar in regards to Gaddafi, chuckling “We came, we saw, he died.”
Once again, Hillary Clinton had backed the violent overthrow of a government in the Middle East, and, once again, the results would ultimately be a nightmare for both the region and the US.
In the power vacuum created by the destruction of the Gaddafi government, Libya fell into chaos. Rival factions battled for control as the state collapsed and disintegrated. Today, there is arguably no political entity that could even be called “Libya.”
Just as it did in Iraq, ISIS has capitalized on the instability created by the US in Libya. According to the United Nations, ISIS now controls much of central Libya where the group has consolidated power and imposed its brutal Saudi-style brand of Islamic governance.
The US is again bombing Libya. Instead of forces loyal to Gaddafi, the strikes are aimed at ISIS members who came to power thanks, in part, to US bombing. There is little evidence to show that the bombing is working to dislodge ISIS in Libya, a familiar refrain given the lackluster results of US bombing attacks on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The solution from the liberal interventionists and neoconservatives to this problem? More bombing.
As Hillary Clinton makes yet another attempt to assume the imperial presidency, it is worth keeping in mind that she apparently is unwilling or unable to learn anything from the horrendous blunders she has championed in the past. Are you ready for more?