The Libyan Intervention of 2011 was the (first) massive foreign policy blunder under President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. To any honest observer, this fact cannot be disputed. NATO intervention caused a once-stable country to descend ever deeper into a civil war, the central government quickly fell, and order has not been restored in the country since. Just as occurred before in Iraq, the US overthrew a sovereign government and a power vacuum was left in its wake, a vacuum that is increasingly being filled by ISIS.
Today’s story reminds us of these stark facts, and highlights the tremendous political opportunity they represent for the Presidential candidates on both side to go after Hillary Clinton on one of her signature issues. Writing at The Week, Michael Brendan Dougherty is even kind enough to write out a brief script for anyone who is willing to take up the charge. Personally, I’m not too optimistic he’ll get any takers, but it’s nice to hope for it anyways. Here’s the link:
The blindingly obvious political attack that every 2016 candidate should use against Hillary
In response to the above article, a friend on social media pointed out that hindsight is 20/20 and asked whether the current disaster in Libya was truly foreseeable. This is a fair and important question. Unfortunately for Hillary supporters, the answer is a resounding yes.
Lest anyone should doubt this, I’ve compiled a helpful summary below to support this conclusion.
First and foremost, the history of American foreign policy adventures in the post-WWII era and especially the post-9/11 era. I literally can’t think of a single episode that didn’t turn out poorly for just about everyone involved. I’m open to being corrected on this, but none come to mind. Meanwhile, the negative examples are plentiful (list below far from exhaustive):
- Iran, 1953 – coups that ultimately resulted in the 1979 Islamic revolution
- Iraq, 1991 – end of the war saw a Shiite rebellion, initially encouraged by President Bush Sr., get brutally crushed in Iraq, involved bases in Saudi Arabia, which became a major grievance inspiring Al Qaeda, and resulted in horrible sanctions imposed on the Iraqis in the 1990s
- Afghanistan, 2001 – regime change operation followed by continual occupation and ongoing warfare through today
- Iraq, 2003 – this one needs no introduction
- Somalia, 2006 – overthrew a nascent government with the help of Ethiopia, continual chaos ensued.
Second, there were definite indications that the rebels in Libya included many jihadists, including the following:
Third, we know from then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that Hillary Clinton hadn’t fleshed out any strategy for what would happen after the government was toppled in Libya. In his words, Hillary’s plan had them “playing it by ear”
Fourth, the military’s distrust of Clinton was so great that they began, along with Rep. Dennis Kucinich, to hold separate negotiations with Libyan regime in an effort to avert a war. This was revealed in a series at the Washington Times,
and was confirmed by the participants in the negotiations. One of the most important things we learned from this journalism is that Ghadafi’s regime was willing to negotiate and the State Department essentially cut off communication unilaterally.
Granted, these last two items weren’t public knowledge at the time of the war. But they would have been available to anyone who cared to learn them inside the halls of the US government. And thus, Obama and Clinton had every reason to know Libya was going to be a catastrophe from the start. And they did it anyway.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton deserve to be held accountable for the failed war in Libya. Let’s hope one of the presidential candidates is smart enough and courageous enough to actually do it.