A new in-depth report from The New York Times paints a damning portrait of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US government’s involvement in the war in Libya. While there had been previous reports citing Clinton as leading the charge for the US to enter the war and overthrow former Libyan Leader Omar Gaddafi, the Times published a play-by-play story with on-the-record comments numerous current and former Obama Administration officials.
The most prominent of those on-the-record comments came from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who claimed that the decision to go to war in Libya was heavily influence by Clinton. In fact, Gates says she made the difference in a “51-49” decision that ultimately destroyed the country of Libya and allowed ISIS to grab new territory in the Middle East.
The breakdown of the events thoroughly supports the view that Hillary Clinton learned nothing from the Iraq War debacle. And, according to the Times, “The lessons of the Libya experience have not tempered her more aggressive approach to international crises.”
Make no mistake, Hillary Clinton is the war candidate in 2016.
The report claims that after a meeting with Westernized Libyan exiles in what appears to be an eerie parallel to the Ahmed Chalabi con, Clinton became convinced that Libya could become a thriving democracy if Gaddafi was overthrown. She then worked tirelessly to ensure the US jumped into the war, pushing back against then-Defense Secretary Gates, National Security Advisor Tom Dolan, and Vice President Joe Biden, who wanted to stay out of the conflict.
Gates even recalled telling President Barack Obama and others in on the Libya meetings that he and the Pentagon had more than enough responsibilities with the Iraq and Afghanistan missions, saying, “I think at one point I said, ‘Can I finish the two wars I’m already in before you guys go looking for a third one?’”
The answer was no. Though there was no solid intelligence on what exactly Gaddafi would or would not do regarding the opposition, then-Secretary Clinton began aggressively lobbying other countries to support the war effort and help the rebels in Libya. With France and the UK already on board, Clinton turned to Russia which shared President Obama’s concerns about unintended consequences.
The Times story notes Russia initially opposed a no-fly zone, even after Clinton told them the US did not want another war. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reportedly responded to Clinton by saying, “I take your point about not seeking another war. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t get one.”
In the end, Russia and other countries acquiesced to Western powers and the bombing began. Initially, the bombing led to a stalemate, which Clinton reportedly found unacceptable, leading her to push for higher-level US weapons to be sent to rebel forces. Those weapons would ultimately end up in the hands of Islamic terrorists in Syria and elsewhere, something Clinton had been warned about by intelligence and military leaders, who said there were “flickers” of Al Qaeda among the Libyan rebels.
As Clinton friend and initial supporter of intervention Anne Marie Slaughter had noted during the war, “We did not try to protect civilians on Qaddafi’s side.” Nor was there any real effort to do so after the US-backed rebels took control.
With the aid of the US, the Gaddafi government collapsed and the now-unrestrained rebels went wild, including a campaign of ethnic cleansing that Clinton herself had been made aware of through private emails from unofficial advisor Sidney Blumenthal. Victorious Arab rebels began killing black Africans en mass due to the rebel’s perception that all black Africans in Libya had been loyal to Gaddafi.
Outside of the new information is something the Times brought out of the memory hole vis-a-vis Clinton and Libya. In the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of Gaddafi, then-Secretary of State Clinton did a victory lap, which included a press tour of post-Gaddafi Libya and a memo celebrating her own role in the war [PDF], which likely was designed to serve a later political purpose should she decide to run for president in 2016.
Now, with Libya as a coherent political entity arguably no longer in existence, former Secretary Clinton says it is too early to tell if the war in Libya was a success or failure, and told Congress last October that, “At the end of the day, this was the president’s decision.” So much for leadership.