Libya

Clinton-Sanders Spat Over Libya Reveals Fundamental Problems With Their Foreign Policy Postures

Neither could be expected to avoid further interventionist blunders.

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CNN

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders offered competing narratives on the 2011 U.S.-backed intervention in Libya at last night's Democratic presidential debate in Brooklyn, hosted by CNN. Last week, President Obama mentioned the aftermath of the intervention as the "worst mistake" of his presidency, making engagement of it last night inevitable given that Clinton served as his secretary of state at the time.

Obama's comments were new—he had not previously acknowledged the sub-optimal aftermath of the intervention. Wolf Blitzer, the moderator of the Brooklyn debate, asked Clinton whether as secretary of state she was "responsible" for "not preparing for Libya" after the removal of Col. Qaddafi.

"I think we did a great deal to help the Libyan people after Qaddafi's demise," Clinton insisted, pointing to the two elections held in Libya as evidence of American success, and boasting that the U.S. got rid (or, more accurately, helped Libya get rid) of Qaddafi's chemical weapons stockpile. The chemical weapons claim is misleading—Qaddafi began the process of disarmament in 2003, when he unilaterally admitted that Libya had a nuclear and chemical weapons program. It was possible to conclude that process without allowing European powers to convince America into a war in which it had no national security interests.

Moreover, the U.S. and its allies didn't do much in post-war Libya to prevent the spread of more conventional weapons in Libya's stockpile to countries throughout the region. A United Nations panel of experts found in 2014 that arms from Libya had found their way to places as far as Nigeria and Syria, fueling conflicts there. The post-war spread of arms and weapons also fueled conflicts in places where there was no conflict before, like Mali, which USAID had called "one of the most enlightened democracies in Africa" as recently as 2012.

Sanders, for his part, pointed out that as Obama's secretary of state, Clinton "led the effect" for regime change in Libya. "And this is the same type of mentality that supported the war in Iraq," Sanders continued.

"Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein are brutal, brutal murdering thugs," Sanders said. "No debate about that. But what we have got to do and what the president was saying is we didn't think thoroughly about what happens the day after you get rid of these dictators."

"Regime change often has unintended consequences in Iraq and in Libya right now," Sanders continued, "where ISIS has a very dangerous foothold. And I think if you studied the whole history of American involvement in regime change, you see that quite often."

Clinton responded by pointing out that Sanders voted for a resolution condemning the systemic human rights abuses in Libya and "demanding democratic reforms."

"And that's exactly what we did," Clinton said of the resolution. Sanders retorted by pointing out the vote was made by unanimous consent. This is misleading—Sanders didn't just accede to unanimous consent, he was one of 10 co-sponsors of the resolution.

There were other resolutions considered by Congress during the Libya war, including substantive efforts that sought to defund a war that had never won Congressional approval. Sanders did not participate in those efforts to stop the war and to assert Congress' role in decisions of war.

While Sanders' acknowledgement of the unintended consequences of U.S. foreign policy is a welcome addition to a mainstream debate that's been lacking that kind of insight, there's reason to be skeptical about how much Sanders actually understands the concept of unintended consequences. Sanders has supported a more aggressive posture vis a vis Russia as well as Iran. There are unintended consequences to inserting the U.S. into situations where it has no vested national security interest, as well as unintended consequences to favoring undemocratic regimes like Saudi Arabia over undemocratic regimes like Iran instead of striving for free trade and friendly relations with all countries.

Clinton dug deeper. She insisted European and Arab powers urged the U.S. to intervene in Libya out of "great fear of what chaos in Syria would do to them." But protests in Syria started in earnest in March 2011, the same month the U.S. intervention in Libya started. An armed insurgency did not begin to coalesce in Syria until the summer.

Seeking to avoid any responsibility for U.S. failures in Libya despite her role as secretary of state when the interventionist U.S. policy toward Libya was implemented, Clinton also shifted her portion of the blame to President Obama.

"The decision was the president's," Clinton insisted. "Did I do the due diligence? Did I talk to everybody I could talk to? Did I visit every capitol and then report back to the president? Yes, I did."

"That's what a secretary of state does," Clinton explained. "But at the end of the day, those are the decisions that are made by the president to in any way use American military power, and the president made that decision and, yes, we did try without success because of the Libyans' obstruction to our efforts, but we did try and we will continue to try to help the Libyan people."

Those obstructions include Libya's transitional government declining to permit the stationing of foreign troops in its country. The president is the decider (something Democrats mocked George W. Bush for saying when he was president) and he relies on his Cabinet as advisers, Clinton's role.

Clinton has consistently failed to take responsibility for Libya or to offer a critique of the failures in Libya that don't rely on complaining that the Libyan people didn't do exactly what the U.S. wanted, as if that were a possibility. That makes her unqualified to be president, even though bashing "Wall Street" gets more currency within the Democratic base than engaging the "military-industrial complex" and the policies and decisions that lead the U.S. to perpetual war that both major parties are responsible for.

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  1. I have two Prog friends who have long been Hillary supporters who are having orgasms over what Sanders said about the Israel and Palestinian conflict last night. They have in one night gone from Hillary Hags to feeling the Bern.

    I don’t think Hillary realizes how unpopular defending Israel is with Democratic voters. I am starting to fear this crazy bastard might win, God help us.

    1. I think there are very few people who genuinely like Hillary.

      They simply think she’s the alternative to the Republicans, and they hate the Republicans.

      She’s like the Howard Cosell of politics. Everybody always had nice things to say about him, too–but somehow forgot to mention that they all hated him.

      Nobody genuinely wants Hillary.

      1. I have never thought she had a chance in hell in November i don’t care what the polls say. Bernie in contrast, I am starting to really fear the crazy bastard might have a chance.

        1. Hillary is a terrible campaigner. Her polls reliably decline in direct proportion to her visibility. Its one thing to get through a primary without being exposed much. But there’s no way she gets through the general without a lot of exposure.

          And, campaigning is incredibly hard on candidates. Hillary is old and has health problems. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a significant health episode between now and November.

          The Republicans have proven ready, willing, and able to throw away any election, so I wouldn’t say she’s guaranteed to lose. But I think the Repubs would have to sabotage themselves for her to lose.

          I used to be 50/50 on whether Hillary could win against any Republican. Now, I give her a 40 – 45% chance of winning. Against a competent opposition, I would say she has about a 15% chance of winning.

          1. Against a competent opposition, I would say she has about a 15% chance of winning.

            Luckily for her, she’ll be running against a Republican.

            1. Luckily for her, she’ll be running against a Republican.

              Yay, go TEAM!!!

            2. Or trump.

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  2. “Clinton has consistently failed to take responsibility for Libya or to offer a critique of the failures in Libya that don’t rely on complaining that the Libyan people didn’t do exactly what the U.S. wanted, as if that were a possibility. That makes her unqualified to be president”.

    Some of you may find this hard to believe, but I agree with Krayewski 100% on something he wrote about Libya.

    1. Don’t get carried away.

      Saying that HRC has “consistently failed to take responsibility” can apply to anything she has done, touched, said, smelled, or been in the same universe with.

      1. About Libya, though.

        I agree with something Krayewski wrote on a Libya thread.

        It happens sometimes.

        1. Understood, it worked out in that instance.

        2. I have agreed with everything, though, he’s included in his labia articles.

  3. One of my many personal complaints about the US invasion of Libya is because Libya actually came out, admitted its WMD program, and then set about dismantling it. If we want governments to stop pursing WMD programs, we should probably refrain from bombing them after they do what we want.

    1. Fucking incentives, how do they work?

      1. Well, it is not like the Obama people understand or even recognize the existence of incentives in any other context. So, it is not surprising they didn’t here.

        These people are fucking morons. Never forget that even as evil and corrupt as they are, more than anything they are morons.

        1. This is 100% accurate.

      2. To the likes of Ayatollahs and Kim Jong Un, using the entire surplus of an impoverished hellhole, and then some, to build an atomic bomb is perfectly rational when confronted with what passes for US foreign policy.

        1. That’s the point I’ve been making for a while. Libya was a bigger strategic blunder than iraq.

  4. Some background on the Lewandowski assault kerfuffle:

    Among other inconsistencies, investigators found that Fields began the altercation by leaving the press area, entering the ‘protective bubble’ of Secret Service and staff security surrounding Trump, touching him in the process.

    Ellis said Fields told her office that she had never touched Trump, but added: ‘That’s not what we see captured on the video.’

    The video evidence shows the Republican front-runner pulling away from her after she makes contact.

    One witness account:

    ‘From my perspective, I was just looking at her rush him … and then suddenly she makes a dramatic spin and turn that looked like a fraudulent slip-and-fall. I mean, it was just blatant.’

    ‘It looked so, so ? disproportionate, is the right word,’ Spellman says on the video.

    ‘It was bizarre. And I studied her after, because at first I thought she was drunk.’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..ed-do.html

    1. Fields was completely full of shit and the entire thing was nothing but a lie and a fraud. Reason needs to publish a retraction. They won’t. They will just drop the matter.

      And lets all hope Fields’ and her boyfriend’s 15 minutes of fame are over. I am really annoyed I know who these people are.

      1. And, breaking a Secret Service protective bubble to get near a person under their protection is a federal crime, a felony, I believe. Somehow I don’t think the Obama DOJ will prosecute her.

    2. The people who were piling on Trump and his supporters to call them a bunch of Brownshirts over this should be really embarrassed.

      They aren’t, but they should be.

      But, you know, that was a couple of primaries ago, so it’s old news. Besides, you don’t want to compare Trump to Brownshirts with the New York primaries forthcoming. Some voters might take offense at a comparison like that, and they’re the same ones who’ve gotten upset with Hillary in the past about statements she’s made about Palestine.

      1. “Mrs. Clinton used the word ”Palestine” in answer to a question and then was asked why she would use that term ”considering the fact that right now this country does not exist.”

        She replied: ”Well, I think that it will be in the long-term interest of the Middle East for Palestine to be a state, to be a state that is responsible for its citizens’ well-being, a state that has responsibility for providing education and health care and economic opportunity to its citizens.”

        [In Washington, Marsha Berry, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Clinton, said that the First Lady was giving her own personal views and that they did not represent the position of the Clinton Administration.]

        Mrs. Clinton added, ”I think that the territory that the Palestinians currently inhabit, and whatever additional territory they will obtain through the peace negotiations” should in the interest of peace be considered ”a functioning modern state.”

        http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05…..state.html

        New York Times, May 7, 1998

        1. ”Well, I think that it will be in the long-term interest of the Middle East for Palestine to be a state, to be a state that is responsible for its citizens’ well-being, a state that has responsibility for providing education and health care and economic opportunity to its citizens held to the same standards as any other state, and subject to the same consequences as any other state if it engages in armed aggression against its neighbors.”

          That, I agree with. Make ’em a state, and you free Israel’s hands to deal with their mortar and rocket attacks.

  5. “Oh No, Ghost in the Shell Considered Using CGI to Make White Actors Look Asian”

    http://io9.gizmodo.com/oh-no-g…..1771222939

    OK, now this shit is starting to get insane.

    The GiTS anime DREW THE MAIN CHARACTERS AS NON-ASIAN! One of whom, being played by Scarlett Johansen, is a fucking cyborg with a completely artificial body.

    1. Yeah, I think Scarlett Johansen’s body is fine just the way it is.

      And they usually draw all the characters with big, giant power puff girl sized eyes, anyway, right?

      1. No.

        There’s actually a fair bit of variation in the artistic stylings in the GIS Anime and Manga.

        The eyes are slightly oversized in them but not by much. And the core members of Section 9 don’t really look very Japanese.

        The major looks very ethnically ambiguous (hell she has five or six bodies she uses including that of a little boy – the only human tissue is her fucking brain packed in the cyberbrain case + life support system)

        Batou has a Russian build and was recruited from a disgraced military unit that fought in or near Vietnam in the 4th world war. Ishikawa looks very European and runs an Internet cafe that is hinted to have been used in criminal activities. Togusa has sandy brown hair (and was clearly on some shit list when he was a detective in some city’s police list). Saito was a sniper fighting for Mexico when the American/Japanese alliance invaded.

        In building Section 9, Aramaki made it a point to pick up people who were very skilled but were utterly dislocated from the rest of Japanese society. Most of the characters’ back-stories have them being caught or losing to either Aramaki, the major, or after Section 9 was formed to the organization. I think only Togusa is the exception.

        Sometimes the attempts fail eg the failed attempt to recruit the laughing man and the major’s weird romance/war with Kuze of the individual 11.

        Given the racial xenophobia rife in Japan, having the major characters be gaijin signals to the reader that they are outsiders.

        1. Saito was a sniper fighting for Mexico when the American/Japanese alliance invaded

          Satio looks pretty Asian to me. And he was fighting for Mexico as a merc.

          Togusa has sandy brown hair (and was clearly on some shit list when he was a detective in some city’s police list)

          And I’m not sure that Togusa isn’t just supposed to be one of these guys.

          Nevertheless, as you point out Batou and Ishikawa are definitely European and that plays into the outsider trope you mention. However, I argue that the fact that Motoko has a family name “Kusanagi”, despite it being pseudonymous, where as the others don’t, would signal to a Japanese audience that she has Japanese origin. Her “looks” may not translate outside the culture, but the fact is, when Asians draw themselves, they don’t depict themselves as slit-eyed, yellow-skinned, and bucked-toothed. I disagree that Motoko looks “ethnically ambiguous”, her looks are as stylized as any other anime woman, reminding me most of Misato Katsuragi from Neon Genesis Evangelion.

          And let’s be real. The correct choice was Grace Park. C’mon, it’s not even debatable.

          1. And let’s be real. The correct choice was Grace Park. C’mon, it’s not even debatable.

            I have no objection to this.

            1. She already has cyborg experience!

          2. The correct choice was to pick a Canadian-American Actress with *Korean* Ethnicity to portray a Japanese cyborg in a mass-market shell?

            1. I do agree that the ‘standard’ in anime/manga has the characters (to our eyes at least) ambiguously non-asian but . . .

              In Kusanigi’s case, yes she’s ethnically Japanese but *she* didn’t choose the body she got (and as pointed out she ends up with several), it was chosen specifically because it was a mass-market model and then customized later. No particular reason why it would have been ‘asian-looking’ as, in this Japan, there’s plenty of foreign influences.

              The actual complaints seem to be centered around Johanssen and appear mainly from people who don’t have any knowledge of the character or the setting other than the character’s name and that it takes place in Japan.

    2. Scarlett Johansen is a fucking cyborg

      There is so much right about this.

    3. The GiTS anime DREW THE MAIN CHARACTERS AS NON-ASIAN!

      ?

      You’re talking about Motoko Kusanagi, right?

        1. Batou is no doubt. But really. We’re discussing a series that has a purple-haired woman. I’m sure Tosgusa, regardless of his ethnicity, has access to this high-tech cybernetic enhancement.

      1. As a person who enjoys some anime, there is a disconnect for me in this ‘white washing’ story compared to other movie white washing stories of late. I mean, as a personal observation I’d say that many anime’s draw their characters with non-Asian qualities, in fact, many anime characters have extra-human qualities that aren’t representative of any race or ethnicity.

        I guess I’ll drop PC overtones and just simply state that some anime characters — that may have Asian names or be placed in Asia — are drawn in a way that makes them look more white (Caucasian, western) than Asian. I don’t say this to knock anime, or anything, though derp gunna derp. I’d say it’s an objective truth of the industry. And obviously, many anime characters are drawn to look Asian, it’s not an absolute ‘either or’ situation.

        1. Remember when that asshole Shakespeare cast english to play Croatians in Twelfth Night?

          Actually, even worse Shakespeare blatantly appropriated Roman culture when he wrote that play.

  6. Perhaps the United States should, as a matter of guidance on all foreign policy:

    1. Not intervene in any place or situation that is not directly, objectively, and demonstrably linked to a bona fide national interest. As in poses an immediate military threat to our or an ally’s national security.

    2. We should not expect any other place or country to think or act as we do, and not assume that democracy and free market capitalism is our burden to impose on the world. All the more so in those places that do not have centuries of experience behind them to prepare them and create a demand for this. Nation building is a bust.

    Just imagine all the trouble, destruction, death, and expense those 2 simple rules would prevent.

    1. ISOLSLAITONIST!!!!!!!11!!!!11!ONE!

      1. @ Crusty: You overlooked the part about immediate military threat to our or an ally’s national security.

        WWII clearly passes that muster given their attack on France and GB, though it took a direct attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan to get the US into it.

    2. Just imagine all the trouble, destruction, death, and expense those 2 simple rules would prevent.

      Hitler would still own Europe.

      *receives high fives at the Council on Foreign Relations*

      1. @Crusty: my reply somehow defaulted to Citizen X, but it applies to both of you [see above].

      2. Well, actually *Russia* would.

  7. She insisted European and Arab powers urged the U.S. to intervene in Libya out of “great fear of what chaos in Syria would do to them.”

    That makes no sense.

    “We want you to intervene in this civil war, because we’re worried about that civil war a thousand miles away.”

    1. It doesn’t need to make sense, it just needs to provide a talking point for her idiot supporters to rationalize the whole thing away.

      1. The word “rationalize” of course being a euphemism in this context.

  8. To give them time to learn on the job, the Constitution should be amended to limit first term Presidents to conducting foreign affairs only with Newfoundland, , St.Pierre & Miquelon, Bermuda and the Bahamas.

  9. The post-war spread of arms and weapons also fueled conflicts
    So… firearms “fuel” “conflict” when they’re in Africa, but when Americans keep and bear them there is absolutely no net positive effect on violence? Trying to understand what publication I’m reading the blog of…

    1. Firearms don’t fuel conflict when *purchased or made* ordinary people trying to live peacable & productive lives.

      When given or issued to criminal gangs, particularly violent, oppressive ones whose stated intent is to wage war until they conquer some bit of territory, and it’s a very different story.

      1. Ah, so guns are only safety enhancing (or not-safety-decreasing) when your society is safe (and full of non-“criminal”) people already? Thanks for clearing that up.

        1. ah, so we’re presuming people are guilty (or going to be) now?

        2. Ah, so guns are only safety enhancing (or not-safety-decreasing) when your society is safe

          Nope! You suck at reading comprehension.

          Society != Individual people.

    2. If you weren’t an asshat it would make more sense.

  10. those are the decisions that are made by the president to in any way use American military power, and the president made that decision

    Obama is going to be pissed when he reads about this in today’s paper.

  11. Hillary Clinton is Dick Cheney in a pants suit.

    Even the Boston Lib agrees.

    Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ Dick Cheney

    http://tinyurl.com/nnv9p28

  12. Clinton dug deeper. She insisted European and Arab powers urged the U.S. to intervene in Libya out of “great fear of what chaos in Syria would do to them.”

    Proof Clinton wasn’t putting classified material on her server! She didn’t even know what date Syrian unrest started!

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