Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Hillary Clinton Owns the War in Libya

And its horrible aftermath.

Libya is in chaos. It's a festering pit of radicalism, anarchy and death, epitomizing everything that can go wrong when Western intervention has no clear long-term purpose. And a woman who believes she should be president of the United States—ostensibly on the strength of her decision-making abilities as secretary of state—believes that what's going on in Libya is a success.

This point seems pertinent. So beyond any facts surrounding the American deaths in Benghazi, the blatant lying about her computer server or whatever else Republicans may or may not uncover about Hillary Clinton, one of the most politically relevant topics examined by the House Benghazi Committee is her insistence that Libya was not a "disaster."

Over and over, in fact, Clinton argued that Libyans had elected "moderates" and that democracy had thrived and that all things were peachy (though she does concede there were security risks). And she was still praising the Arab Spring long after its collapse into violent radicalism across the Arab world.

At first I wondered, how could she maintain something so obviously contestable? Then I realized, how could she not?

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) spent his entire time attempting to push Clinton to own the Libya intervention. Democrats joked on Twitter that Roskam had conclusively proved that yes, Clinton was secretary of state. But it was much more.

She reiterated that she was the chief architect of the war in Libya. Clinton has to claim that the U.N.-authorized Libyan air campaign in 2011 was a model of successful foreign intervention, because Clinton was the one who urged Barack Obama, over the strong misgivings of others, to intervene in that civil war. She brought the Arabs on board. She articulated many of the administration's arguments.

Later, after the whole thing fell apart, she would falsely blame some obscure video for the whole thing.

Since then, Libya has fragmented into two rival factions, which have erased any pretense that democracy or freedom exists in the country. There are mass collective punishments as tens of thousands of political prisoners are thrown into camps. Violence is up. Proliferation of weapons has increased. Causalities have spiked since the war. Ansar al-Sharia, the group accused of murdering American diplomats, is more powerful now than it was before the U.S. got involved.

One estimate says that militias have grown from an estimated 40,000 fighters in 2011 to 160,000 today. This is now the place where Coptic Christians are marched out onto beaches and beheaded. The war has created a refugee crisis.

Now, Clinton isn't responsible for all the awful things people do, but she certainly is responsible for America's role in the whole mess. If voters are supposed to judge Clinton's asserted foreign policy expertise based on what she did while in power, they should take this into account: Clinton, according to her own admission, voted for one foreign policy disaster and instigated another one. Her fans might concede that Iraq was merely a vote of political expediency or perhaps one made on bad information (a stretch), but there is no such comfort with Libya. Clinton can't blame this one on George W. Bush.

Republicans were generally quiet about the Obama administration's unauthorized war in Libya—even though it circumvented congressional authority—because intervention generally matches their own foreign policy objectives. Americans didn't die, at least at the beginning, so it was forgotten. But if John McCain, who supported the Libyan intervention, would have been in charge, we would never have heard the end of it.

Instead, people would be asking: Please explain how the Libya intervention was a success? And should Ambassador Christopher Stevens have been in Benghazi at all?

COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

Photo Credit: State

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • straffinrun||

    Imagine what pile of slobbering mess Ron Paul could turn Hillary into in a Presidential debate. Instead we'll see some silly nitpicking over Libya.

  • Otisjay||

    The thought of this made my pants tighten

  • american socialist||

    Dear Trey Gowdy, et. al.:

    I'm a supporter of Bernie Sanders and have no plans to vote for Hillary Clinton in the primary or in the general election. So... (Kick in sarcasm) Thanks a lot for your committee's shit show yesterday. (End sarcasm). It will probably sink my candidate by making people want to vote for a war supporting, Wall Street crony Democrat because you guys look like a bunch of tin-foil hat wearing morons. We all don't care for the old Hitlery-- you maybe more than me-- but I have to say with asshole allies like you who needs Vlad Putin? I'll probably not be making a donation to you or any other Tea Party group in the next 100 years.

    Fuck you and South Carolina. Yours sincerely,

    American Socialist

  • Animal||

    "I'm a supporter of Bernie Sanders"

    Which removes any obligation to take you seriously.

  • Bgoptmst||

    His tag removed my obligation.

  • Sevo||

    "...you guys look like a bunch of tin-foil hat wearing morons...."

    Strange. Shil lies like a rug, but *they* look like morons.
    Pretty sure the moron is the one who wrote that.

  • UCrawford||

    You keep coming here and posting stupid comments as if you think we're your friends.

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    A propos of what, exactly?

    Ugh, there I go again, paying attention to muddled sociopath.

  • ManIntheMirror||

    Bernie Sanders is definitely the better alternative to Hillary. He is genuine, he speaks what he believes, and he owns up to being a socialist. He admits that his taxing the 1% will not even come close to paying for free college and free healthcare for all. He is completely honest about raising taxes on everyone for everyone's benefit. He cites great sources for success like Denmark and Norway and...did he mention Greece or Venezuela? Either way all of them are complete successes. He is also tired of hearing about those damn emails. He agrees that all of Hillary's lies didn't hurt anyone. "What difference does it make" basically. He was the bigger man on that issue during the first dem debate...crap, sorry I forgot to put "Begin sarcasm" way back before I started this spiel.

  • Free Society||

    raising taxes on everyone for everyone's benefit.

    I don't recall the last time I was robbed for my benefit.

  • ||

    I don't recall the last time I was robbed for my benefit.

    Then you ignored the warm feeling of giving to help your fellows; that should have been more than enough, if you were just paying attention.

  • ||

    So wait, there's a difference if I'm robbed by someone who says he's a crook compared to someone who denies she's a crook?

    Jesus. People actually DO believe that.

  • ||

    Of course! Because intentions.

  • Rockabilly||

    Hillary is the face of the modern democrat progressive socialist party: a war monger, gun grabber, supporter of the racist on drugs, and all around enemy of freedom.

  • Jackand Ace||

    This is rich.

    Libya matched Republican interventionist strategy? It matched Harsanyi's interventionist strategy. Here is Harsanyi in 2002 defending all sorts of interventions, including Iraq, as well as defending all the neo-cons who put us there:

    "But these days, it seems that even temperate support for military action against dictators and terrorists qualifies you a neocon."

    http://archive.frontpagemag.co.....RTID=23270

    And Harsanyi still would rather we head down the path of military conflict with Iran, rather than a negotiated settlement.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Skip to the part where you hiss "... and Harsanyi is a Jew!"

    Because that's the only entertaining part of your act.

  • american socialist||

    Hey Jackand,

    If you call someone a neocon, pejoratively, that means you are an anti-Semite. Aren't libertarians fun?

  • Jackand Ace||

    Yeah, I never let such idiotic comments bother me, so I ignore them. Happens often here.

  • The Grinch||

    That makes him a hypocrite. It doesn't make him wrong regarding Libya. It is a freaking disaster.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Exactly right.

  • bassjoe||

    Harsanyi is a Republican hack; any political hack by definition is also a hypocrite. It's a damn shame he's given space in these pages and that the comentariat actually believe he makes good points.

  • The Grinch||

    He is a hack, he shouldn't be given a forum here, and he's correct in this instance. Unfortunately, Reason lets a lot of hacktastic stuff from both Reps and Dems make it onto their site.

  • ||

    OK, so your foreign policy writing choices here are:

    1. Richman- vicious antisemitic nutjob.

    2. Harsanyi- Republican hack.

    3. Chapman- actually retarded.

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    Yeah, there aren't a lot of foreign policy writers for Reason who are writing from a genuinely libertarian background. I think primarily because people are mostly interested in foreign policy when it involves guns, and libertarians can only say, "no military involvement unless it's in self-defense or defense of our allies" so many times.

    I don't know if Harsanyi's a hack or not. I know he's not what you'd call a typically doctrinaire libertarian in terms of foreign affairs. But regardless, he's right on this.

  • sasob||

    So was Hillary a neocon when she pushed her husband to get us involved in Kosovo back in the 90's? Hillary is a war monger who despises the military but loves using it for her own ends. Like most liberals/progressives she is only too happy to perform her good works at someone else's expense rather than her own.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Did you think I was defending Hillary's hawkish policies? You're wrong.

  • Ronny Paulino||

    Harsanyi bizarrely claims to be a libertarian but is really a neocon. Spends his whole day on Twitter supporting Jesus-freak neocons from The Federalist and their dream of bombing Iran back to the Stone Age. He's also a New York Rangers fan, yuck. Hate it every time Reason posts something by him.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Figures he would be a Rags fan too.

  • Moridin||

    The only comfort I have is that some day that ugly, corrupt, evil bitch will rot in hell for eternity.

  • bvandyke||

    Hmmm, some how I think even Satan is scared of her.

  • VicRattlehead||

    David, the word is Chaos not anarchy, anarchy would imply that they have decided to run society without rulers, where the reality is the country is divided up amongst war mongering theocracies. What is seen is not the absence of government but the chaos of a power struggle between groups of people pretending that they have legitimate authority to run the lives of their fellow man set in a barbaric and warlike culture which had no hope of successfully implementing anarchy.
    Anarchy does not mean chaos, the two are tangentially linked by the fear of cowards, who believe that if we didnt have criminals robbing us, lying to us, and killing us that somehow society wouldn't function.

  • DenverJ||

    Nice!

  • ThomasD||

    No.

    Anarchy does not mean "they have decided to run society without rulers." Anarchy means there is no recognized authority and everyone self governs. In an anarchy there can be no 'they' deciding how to 'run society' other than 'they' meaning 'everyone' and everyone deciding to take care of themselves and everything how they see fit.

    Which is exactly what Libya is right now. With no recognized authority people are choosing to go it alone, or throwing in together with groups of like minded people. To be sure most of those groups have aims on establishing other forms of governance besides anarchy, and if successful then 'they' will have indeed 'decided' for themselves and everyone else.

    And thus ends anarchy in Libya.

    Still might be chaos though.

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    There's a distinction between people joining like-minded individuals to organize their own society in a particular way and people joining groups led by specific leadership with the goal of forcing their rule on to others. That's not anarchy, either.

  • ThomasD||

    'Specific leadership' has nothing to do with it - people can choose to follow someone else, that person thereby becoming a de facto 'leader.' The problem arises when someone chooses to not play along.

    At which point it is only force that matters; once force is employed to coerce others anarchy is threatened.

    Of course, anarchy being what it is, and human nature being what it is, all but ensures that force will follow.

  • DenverJ||

    even though it circumvented congressional authority

    It didn't circumvent it, it ignored it. The war in Libya was a blatantly unconstitutional act of executive power, and should have resulted in impeachment.

  • ThomasD||

    It violated the War Powers Act, but it is entirely unclear if the War Powers Act is even Constitutional.

  • John Galt||

    Democrat's love the YouTube video lie since it's doesn't merely expediently serve the Queen of Evil for the moment, but it's a great tool in their greater war against free speech.

  • IceTrey||

    The war in Libya was all about stopping the Great Man-Made River Project from turning Libya into the breadbasket of the Arab world.

  • JayWye||

    It really irks me,the witch keeps claiming she took responsibility for Benghazi,but never resigned,won't drop out of the candidacy for POTUS,etc. In reality,she's taken NO responsibility for it. She needs to go to prison,if not a firing squad.

  • SmokinDave||

    Fascinating how think holding the office is the only criteria-not what she actually did or did not do while IN the office. Her actions-or lack thereof-indicate either complete and total ineptitude, incompetence, or just plain dishonesty. There are no other conclusions to draw.

  • onebornfree||

    Avast thar me mateys and landlubbers! "Welcome to the matrix" :-) .

    Do you want to be freer than you are now?

    If so, the first thing you need to understand is that _no-one_ can free you, except _YOU_.

    No politician will free you, nor anyone else.

    Meaning, if you want to be freer than you are right now you need to stop complaining about the government, and to stop fantasizing that some new, temporary, provisional head of what is essentially a 100% criminal organization is actually going to improve your life for you.

    Ain't gonna happen!

    If you believe it can/will happen, then "the matrix" definitely "has" you" :-).

    Regards, onebornfree.
    Personal Freedom consulting: www.onebornfree.blogspot.com

  • mtrueman||

    How is Libya a failure? Secular strongman defeated, any democratic impulses among the populace thwarted, This has been in keeping with bi-partisan policy since the turn of the century. Congress could have prevented this had they wanted.

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    Oh, come on. Now you're not even trying. This is truly amateurish trolling. Very disappointing.

    1/10

  • mtrueman||

    "Very disappointing."

    The truth can be hard to take.

  • Sevo||

    "The truth can be hard to take."

    HIH would you know, you pathetic piece of shit?
    So we get the imbecilic troll trueman, the idiots commie-kid and jack. A trifecta of stupid!

  • mtrueman||

    "A trifecta of stupid!"

    You're being modest. With you it's a fourfecta of stupid.

  • bdez||

    Hillary Clinton, as SoS, does not 'own' the war in Libya anymore than Donald Trump does. There is only one owner of U.S. military action regardless of site and purpose, and that is the Commander in Chief. HC may have been influential but certainly not the owner. The premise is wrong.

    "Libya is in chaos. It's a festering pit of radicalism, anarchy and death...." is a big DON'T CARE to Americans, and frankly, also, their elected officials. Western intervention in a Muslim-governed region is slop-trough of bad ideas and antics.

  • The steadfast||

    We need your help please please please your Hillary Clinton is laying about the situation in Libya ... I am Libya we sleep and wake in the morning on news of car bomb or killing ... Benghazi still segued by ISIS brought to us by USA ... it is all lays what Hillary saying about in not a success is a disaster and what she is saying about democracy is all crab not truth is false ... If what she says is right why all this car bomb and killing and also civil war in Benghazi and Derna and Sirte and also in some other part of the west of Libya. Kindly by the name of GOD please assist us in Libya to put it back as it was during the Great leader Gaddafi may god bless his soul.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online