In an interview in 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked on the torture and killing of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi by famously paraphrasing Julius Caesar, exclaiming, “We came, we saw, he died.” The follow up question from the CBS reporter who prompted the declaration was, “Did it have anything to do with your visit?” to which Clinton jokingly responded, “I’m sure it did.”
But was it such a joke? Gaddafi died at the hands of US-backed rebels after a US Predator drone attacked a military convoy Gaddafi was traveling in, wounding him and forcing him to surrender to his assassins. Whether Clinton specifically knew of this attack is almost irrelevant. What she did know was that, through her own actions, the US policy in Libya was not a humanitarian intervention but, in fact, regime change.
This point is hammered home magnificently in a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine by Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations (no fringe group, last I checked). Zenko goes through a point-by-point rebuttal of the big lie of the Libyan war: that the US and NATO intervened for humanitarian reasons.
Using the pretext of protecting civilians from a massacre in Benghazi, US and NATO forces began a full campaign to overthrow the Gaddafi regime, which included decapitation strikes on Gaddafi’s residence from the start. Once the war got going, the support for regime change continued.
As Zenko notes, the US and NATO claimed they were upholding UN resolution 1970, which forbids arming either side of the conflict, while at the same time allowing arms to go to the rebels. NATO even posted a video where its forces stopped a ship, found arms destined for the rebels, and then let the ship go on. So much for the UN. By the end, the US was arming the rebels on its own.
While the article in Foreign Policy is – to borrow a phrase from a former CIA director – a slam dunk case that the US was always pursuing regime change in Libya, it was already obvious to many that the Obama Administration was, at the very least, not upset by Gaddfi’s overthrow.
A recent New York Times story revealed in more detail how it was former Secretary Clinton that drove the US into the war in Libya, with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates claiming it was a 51-49 decision within the Obama Administration, and that Clinton made the difference.
Hillary Clinton’s history of supporting regime change is so pronounced that a major line of questioning at a recent MSNBC town hall focused on Clinton’s support for the idea of regime change generally. MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews repeatedly challenged Clinton to name an instance where the US pushing for regime change had worked out. Clinton had no answer other than to offer hypothetical scenarios of possible positive outcomes in stopping Hitler in Germany before World War II, or intervening in Rwanda in hopes of stopping a genocide. The Rwandan reference is odd, as it was President Bill Clinton who was in office during the Rwandan genocide, and Hillary Clinton has repeatedly cited his presidency as a model and credential for her candidacy.
The truth is, Libya shows Hillary Clinton learned nothing from the Iraq War. If she gets into office, expect more regime change posing as humanitarian intervention.