Hillary Clinton

Libya: It Was About Regime Change, and It Was a Disaster

Hillary Clinton was part of a campaign to mislead us about the purposes of the Libyan intervention.

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Five years ago this week, the U.S. began its intervention in the Libyan revolts against Moammar Qaddafi. Hillary Clinton, likely Democratic presidential candidate and reasonably likely next president of these United States, had a lot to do with all that mess, being secretary of state at the time.

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In a detailed and damning look back on our little Libyan adventure and its aftermath in Foreign Policy, Micah Zenko looks at what Secretary Clinton thought about what had happened and her role in it. He notes that she very much sloughs over the time period when the clear purpose, from the U.S. perspective, went from "protect[ing] civilians in Libya" to overthrowing the regime. 

She has little to say about a U.S.-led NATO coalition's role in helping the rebels along and adding both to casualties at the time and enduring trouble and chaos five years later.

Zenko sees, with merit, that the the Libya story and would-be president Hillary Clinton's role in it is a valuable and informative "case study for the ways that supposedly limited interventions tend to mushroom into campaigns for regime change."

Obama started on March 28, 2011, assuring us it was all about "protect[ing] the Libyan people from immediate danger and to establish a no-fly zone.… Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake." Various other administration officials echoed that in the coming weeks.

Then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, though, "told the New York Times last month that 'I can't recall any specific decision that said, 'Well, let's just take him out,' although at the time "'the fiction was maintained" that the goal was limited to disabling Colonel Qaddafi's command and control."

Zenko details that the actual pattern of NATO's strikes makes it hard to believe they weren't trying to kill Qaddafi pretty much from the beginning though it was denied straight-up by administration figures.

In fact, the NATO forces were not only not sticking to enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions but actively facilitating their violation when it came to supplying arms to the rebels, which was supposed to be a no-no.

In this sense, then, it was an American intervention that at least achieved its real goal, if not one worth the expenditure of U.S. treasure and reputation, and one we should have lived to regret. As Zenko wrote:

on Oct. 20, 2011, it was a U.S. Predator drone and French fighter aircraft that attacked a convoy of regime loyalists trying to flee Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte. The dictator was injured in the attack, captured alive, and then extrajudicially murdered by rebel forces.

This sort of lying to the American people about what our military is trying to do is a long tradition and ongoing to this day in terms of our essentially combat operations against ISIS. This sort of thing, this:

gradual accretion of troops, capabilities, arms transfers, and expanded military missions seemingly just "happens," because officials frame each policy step as normal and necessary. The reality is that, collectively, they represent a fundamentally larger and different intervention.

Clinton tried to show some warrior cojones with her famous "We came, we saw, he died" zinger. Clinton described that before an October 2015 hearing as "an expression of relief that the military mission undertaken by NATO and our other partners had achieved its end."

But as Zenko's article makes clear, that wasn't the end that we the people were told was being pursued. And Clinton's eager central role in such a game of tricking both U.S. and world opinion into not caring much about military actions by misleading us about their goals and intentions is something I hope voters don't forget.

I wrote on some larger issues involving the penumbra of misleading secrecy surrounding American foreign policy in "Secret Foreign Policy is Bad for Democracy." That's still quite true, even when the secrets are kept by Democratic presidential aspirants.

Reason TV on the Obama administration's tendency to wage wars that aren't "really wars."

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58 responses to “Libya: It Was About Regime Change, and It Was a Disaster

  1. Topple a dictator in Iraq: be vilified for insufficient crowd control in the aftermath. Topple a dictator in Libya, having no plans at all for crowd control in the aftermath: sweep to the democratic party nomination. I love principles.

    1. At least there was an argument that Saddam was a threat to America. It may have been an incredibly weak one that was exaggerated, but it was there nonetheless. How was Libya threatening the U.S. in any possible way? Bush went through the correct processes for the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Even if one thinks he outright lied about the reasons and evilly tricked dozens of countries and a majority of America into siding with him, you can’t really claim the actions themselves were “illegal”. What Obama has done is. Just because fewer U.S. soldiers are dying because of his actions doesn’t make them better than Bush.

    2. This is the same president (Obama, not Qaddafi) who was bestowed with the Nobel Peace Prize in advance for his “potential”. The Nobel committee was correct. His potential for authoritarianism and deciet was truly awesome.

      1. But, but, but….BOOooooOoOoOoOSHHhH!

  2. We didn’t lose a single person in Libya.

    1. That’s because you lost multiple persons in Libya.

      She messin’ with you mind, brah.

      1. They all filed joint returns.

    2. They were all just EVEOnline handles.

    3. There is an ambassador and a number of former SEALS who might like to disagree with you about that …if they were still alive.

    4. Sarcasm on the internet is hard.

      1. Especially the Reason commentariat’s “delightfully dry deadpan”-style sarcasm!

  3. In contemporary political debates, the Libya intervention tends to be remembered as an intra-administration soap opera, focused on the role Clinton ? or Susan Rice or Samantha Power ? played in advising Obama to go through with it.

    That seems to jive with this, and other articles about Samantha Power’s role in Libya. In reference to Power:

    While she was by no means alone in advocating military intervention in Libya ? Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, was a pivotal voice ? the president’s decision to pursue that course is something of a personal triumph for her.

    While there are certainly too many secrets (Setec Astronomy), it is also pretty obvious that President acts on terrible advice from terrible people.

    1. Barry’s inner circle is a somehow-worse Tyler Perry movie. Valerie, Susan, Samantha (token wilty white girl), and of course Chewie. Oh yeah, his mother-in-law is installed on premise as well (played by Tyler Perry himself). Hillary’s tenure was the cameo Betty White-saying-fuck shtick.

      1. Maybe there will be a sequel based on Madea Goes To Jail.

      2. And they all nag and bother him with shit right when he’s leaving for the golf course.

  4. Libya was all about not allowing the Great Man Made River to turn it into the bread basket of the Middle East as well as stopping Qaddafi’s plan to introduce a gold backed currency.

    1. Now that’s how you do sarcasm on the internet!

  5. I look forward to Trump making Hitler own Iraq and Libya .

    1. It’s going to be Huuuuge!

    2. Trump is working on cloning technology. Give it time.

      1. They saved his brain!

        My phone autocorrects Hitlery to Hitler…weird huh?

    3. Trump is a Hillary stalking horse and not actually interested in leading the country.

      1. Think of it this way: if Trump gets the nomination, we either get Hillary for president or we get her good buddy and fellow traveler, Trump. Not really much of a choice, huh?

  6. The U.S. did this for Sarkozy and France.

  7. It’s just one dictator in one small country, not very well liked by his people, and, well, all the other bigger countries were going on about their dictators and how much they wanted to off the lot of them and so we thought it would be ever so much fun and ever so easy to, you know, just kind of go in their and get our whacks in on one of the littler ones – who knew even little dictators in little countries could make such a big mess? Heck, we saw what a mess Georgie-boy made in Iraq, but, c’mon, that was the bloody Mesopotamian Empire for crying out loud! Fourth largest army in the world, weapons of mass destruction, yellow cake – the whole bit. Who’d’ve thought the Libyans would put up a stink? I mean, we kicked the crap out of them back when they were just the Tripoli Pirates, back when they were just a Triple-A team, back in like 1800, you’re telling me our military’s less powerful now than it was 200 years ago? Geez, can’t even topple a dictator now and again without some sort of blowback these days. What’s the world coming to?

  8. Government work. Facepalm.

    http://hotair.com/archives/201…..d-robbery/

    1. The union defense is brilliant here. A previous employee was also convicted of serious charges and is still employed, so it would be grossly unfair to fire anyone else who is similarly sent to jail. It’s perfect, really. At this point one of the VA workers could literally shoot someone in the parking lot and still get their job back as soon as they get home from prison. It’s just baked into the cake.

      Gubmint, I want moar.

    2. Leverage is sitting across from a convicted sex offender at the negotiating table. You can’t call him a hypocrite at least.

  9. The massive and passionate antiwar demonstrations occurring across the globe in the early days of the Libya campaign should have given Obama and Hillary pause.

    1. They were just protesting that anti-Muhammad video.

      1. At this point, what does it matter?

  10. Clinton’s eager central role in such a game of tricking both U.S. and world opinion into not caring much about military actions by misleading us about their goals and intentions is something I hope voters don’t forget.

    “I remember she had great experience and kept up safe as Secretary of State.”

    1. “You just don’t know how Uranium deals work, you know I’m telling you something, let’s make America achieve critical mass again.”

  11. Personally, I blame homosexuals and the blacks.

    1. Irish is 50% with you.

  12. Clinton may have made an error in stating when the use of her personal e-mail server began.

    I find it hard to believe that someone so competent and so invested in good government would lie about something like this. So it must be a simple mistake.

    1. You misspelled perjury.

      She was under oath before the Senate when she said that. Lao we will wait and see if she gets the insider treatment or the peon treatment for lying to a senate committee.

      1. NO!!!!!! SHE CARES TOO MUCH TO BE IN THE WRONG!!!!!!!

      2. She just mis spoke sloopy.

        You know how that works right ?

        Its like when she was dodging sniper fire when she really wasn’t she just thought she was and mis spoke when she claimed she was.

        It’s just all innocent mis spokenness except all you assholes who expect her to remember every little detail of her remarkable life leading up to the White House where she can fight for all Americans but fight especially hard for women and minorities mostly .

    2. I’m Illuminati
      Yes I’m Illuminati
      I can be nice or naughty
      Cause I’m Illuminati

      1. *snaps fingers, puts on tin-foil hat

  13. W started disastrous wars. Obo started disastrous ‘kinetic activities’.

    1. Energies were converted.

  14. WDATPDIM!

  15. RE: Libya: It Was About Regime Change, and It Was a Disaster

    Now that Daffy Qaddafi is dead, I’m sure all the Libyans will join in and launch a democratic regime like they did in Egypt.
    Won’t life be wonderful in the Middle East?

  16. According to most Libyan activists and intellectuals and operatives French Intelligence assasinated Gadaffi after the rebels captured and wounded him.

    He had contributed to Sarkozy’s campaign – which could put Sarkozy in prison – so Sarkozy had him killed once their “friendship” went south.

    1. Still pissed about the French-Algerian War eh?

  17. ObamaHillary didn’t war on Libya, they foreign explosive technology exchanged with new Smart Bomb(tm) technology that only eliminated bad peoples.

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  23. “This sort of lying to the American people about what our military is trying to do is a long tradition and ongoing to this day in terms of our essentially combat operations against ISIS. This sort of thing, this:”

    A Marine SSgt died in Iraq the other day who was supposedly providing force protection for coalition partners. Guy was part of the 26th MEU’s GCE. I imagine he brought his shower shoes, so as not to be a boot on the ground.

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