Ms. Intervention


Hillary the Hawk
The Democrats’ Athena only differs from Bush on the details.
By Justin Raimondo
The American Conservative, 2006-03-27

When “the Moose” talks, Democrats listen—
just like the Republicans did when he was flacking on their behalf.
And the Democrat listening the closest to this Trotskyist-turned-neoconservative
is Hillary Rodham Clinton,
supposedly the leader of the party’s far-left wing.

With his reputation for giving good quote, “the Moose,” a.k.a. Marshall Wittmann,
formerly John McCain’s communications director
and now a bigwig at the Democratic Leadership Council
[and since 2012 the chief spokesman for AIPAC!],
is a legendary character in Washington circles.
Once a member of the Trotskyist Spartacist League and an officer in the Young People’s Socialist League, Wittmann, like many admirers of the Red Army’s founder, moved rightward during the Reagan era and eventually wound up as the Christian Coalition’s political director. From this strategic vantage point he jumped on McCain’s Straight Talk Express—and then jumped ship entirely, falling into the arms of the DLC and landing, as always, on his feet.

From Leon Trotsky to Ralph Reed to Hillary Clinton is a long, torturous road to follow, yet the chameleon-like Wittmann—who styles himself a Bull Moose progressive in the tradition of his hero, Theodore Roosevelt—has navigated it expertly. Wittmann’s new role as Hillary’s unofficial Rasputin is perfectly suited to her current political needs. Eager to overcome her reputation as the leader of the party’s left wing, Hillary is “repositioning” herself, in modern parlance, as a “centrist,” i.e. a complete opportunist. She could have no better teacher than Wittmann, who from the pulpit of his “Moose-blog,” advises her to “seize the issue of Iranian nukes to draw a line in the sand.” While paying lip service to multilateralism, she should “make it clear that while force is the last resort, she would never take it off the table in dealing with the madmen mullahs and the psychotic leader of Iran.”

This advice was proffered on the morning of Jan. 18. By that evening, when Hillary gave her scheduled speech at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, it had clearly been taken to heart: “I believe that we lost critical time in dealing with Iran,” she averred. Accusing the White House of choosing to “downplay the threats and to outsource the negotiations,” she disdained Team Bush for “standing on the sidelines.”

“Let’s be clear about the threat we face now,” she thundered. “A nuclear Iran is a danger to Israel, to its neighbors and beyond. The regime’s pro-terrorist, anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric only underscores the urgency of the threat it poses. U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal. We cannot and should not—must not—permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons.” To be sure, we need to cajole China and Russia into going along with diplomatic and economic sanctions, but “we cannot take any option off the table in sending a clear message to the current leadership of Iran—that they will not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons.”

Wittmann celebrated his apparent success in influencing the Democratic presidential frontrunner by exulting that “the Moose has a mind meld with Hillary.” Taking the opportunity to rally the shrinking but strategically placed pro-war wing of the Democratic Party around a “united front,” he staked out for her a position in favor of “multi-lateral action, if possible, but unilateral action, including military options, if necessary, against the growing Iranian nuclear threat.”

Hillary’s newfound centrism isn’t completely insincere. Her bellicose interventionism has a history: it was Hillary, you’ll recall, who berated her husband for not bombing Belgrade soon enough and hard enough. As Gail Sheehy relates in Hillary’s Choice:

Hillary expressed her views by phone to the President: ‘I urged him to bomb.’ The Clintons argued the issue over the next few days. [The president expressed] what-ifs: What if bombing promoted more executions? What if it took apart the NATO alliance? Hillary responded, ‘You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?’ The next day the President declared that force was necessary.

Together with Madeleine Albright—who famously complained to Colin Powell, “What good is it having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”—Hillary constituted the Amazonian wing of the Democratic Party during the years of her husband’s presidency. Her effort to outflank the Republicans on the right when it comes to the Iran issue is a logical extension of her natural bellicosity.

Hillary is nothing if not consistent: in her floor speech to the Senate during the debate over the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, she declared, “the facts that have brought us to this fateful vote are not in doubt”—a statement she has never acknowledged regretting. Particularly endearing to the War Party, she framed her “aye” vote in terms of the classic neoconservative myth of Bush I’s betrayal:

The first President Bush assembled a global coalition, including many Arab states, and threw Saddam out after forty-three days of bombing and a hundred hours of ground operations. The U.S.-led coalition then withdrew, leaving the Kurds and the Shiites, who had risen against Saddam Hussein at our urging, to Saddam’s revenge.

Hillary would have occupied Iraq a decade earlier, riding into Baghdad at the head of her troops like Pallas Athena descending on the Trojans, striding boldly into what Gen. William E. Odom has described as “the greatest strategic disaster in our history.”

Hillary hails the 1998 bombing of Iraq, ordered by her husband, which killed thousands of Iraqi civilians, and recounts the official mythology promulgated by the Bush administration: “[T]he so-called presidential palaces … in reality were huge compounds well suited to hold weapons labs, stocks, and records which Saddam Hussein was required by UN resolution to turn over. When Saddam blocked the inspection process, the inspectors left.” As we now know, there was nothing even approaching WMD in those palaces, and Iraq had been effectively disarmed at that point. In late February or early March, Scott Ritter, then a UN arms inspector, met with then-U.S. ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson. Ritter was told to provoke an incident so the U.S. could finish bombing by the start of the Islamic New Year holiday.

Hillary, however, didn’t let any inconvenient facts get in her way. She boasted that it was under a Democratic administration that the U.S. “changed its underlying policy toward Iraq from containment to regime change” and took credit for the bright idea of putting Ahmad Chalabi, convicted embezzler and known liar, on the U.S. payroll. Her speech reads like a Weekly Standard editorial, reiterating each of the War Party’s talking points—the bio-weapons fantasy, the links to al-Qaeda gambit, the phantom nuclear arsenal: “This much,” she maintaind, “is undisputed.”

What is undisputed these days is that the entire rationale for war was based on trumped-up evidence of Iraq’s alleged transgressions, but Hillary is unrepentant: “No, I don’t regret giving the president authority because at the time it was in the context of weapons of mass destruction, grave threats to the United States, and clearly, Saddam Hussein had been a real problem for the international community for more than a decade.”

But there was no threat to the U.S. and Hillary knows it. What’s more, her hardcore constituency knows it, and they are becoming increasingly alienated from—even actively hostile to—their putative presidential frontrunner over this issue. Their anger is stoked by evidence that Hillary has imbibed the same neocon Kool-Aid that has intoxicated the Bush administration and blinded it to the failure of its policies in Iraq.

On a trip to Iraq during which 55 people—including one American soldier —were killed by suicide bombers, Hillary was merrily chirping that the occupation was “functioning quite well” and that the surge of suicide attacks indicated that the insurgency was failing. Security was so bad that the road to the airport was impassable, and the Senate delegation had to be transported to the Green Zone by military helicopter. They dared not venture out into the streets of Baghdad.

The disconnect between rhetoric and reality, between the antiwar views of Hillary’s left-wing base and the militant interventionism of Wittmann and the DLC crowd, finally forced her to come to grips with the contradiction—or at least to appear to do so. This occurred not in a public speech but in an e-mail sent to her supporters in which the trouble she is in is acknowledged in the first sentence: “The war in Iraq is on the minds of many of you who have written or who have called my office asking questions and expressing frustration.” Chances are, these callers were expressing frustration not only with the policies of the Bush administration but with her own complicity with Bush’s Middle Eastern agenda of seemingly endless aggression.

She falls back on the old “there are no quick and easy answers” ploy to give an aura of thoughtfulness to a dishonest and constantly shifting position on the war. While insisting that we should not “allow this to be an open-ended commitment without limits or end,” she reassures the War Party by distancing herself from John Murtha and others who want an orderly withdrawal in a relatively short time: “Nor do I believe that we can or should pull out of Iraq immediately.” She hails the elections as the signal that we can start the withdrawal process sometime “in the coming year,” but not completely: we must leave behind “a smaller contingent in safer areas with greater intelligence and quick strike capabilities”—a tripwire, in short, in the form of permanent bases.

This goes beyond anything the Bush administration would ever admit, even as it starts building those facilities—14 “enduring bases” across Iraq. The White House has been cagey about this, preferring to speak in vague generalities: we are not supposed to notice that construction was begun prior to any agreement with the Iraqi government. With Hillary signing on to this plan for a permanent military presence in Iraq—in effect, a shadow occupation—the debate over U.S. policy in the region is settled.

If we knew then what we knew now, Hillary avers, Congress “would never have agreed” with the decision to go to war, but she forgets her previously expressed “undisputed” certainty that Saddam possessed and posed a grave threat. She complains that the administration did not act to gain international support, but it did go to the UN and made every effort to give the invasion a multinational gloss. She berates the Bush administration for failing to “level with the American people”—as if they would have gone along with it had they known that the American presence would be widely detested. She hectors the White House and Rummy for not heeding the advice of General Shinseki that as many as 200,000 troops would be necessary to occupy Iraq —as if that wouldn’t have caused a great many second thoughts in those who otherwise supported the war. She has called for more troops to be sent—even as she holds out the prospect of reducing the American presence “in the coming year.”

The president, Hillary charges, does not have a “plan” for “concluding and winning” the war. Disdaining “a rigid timetable” for withdrawal, she calls for devising “a strategy for success”—without defining what a victory would look like. When push comes to shove, her position is the same as the administration’s, albeit with minor modifications: we’ll leave when we’re good and ready and not a moment sooner.

This is not likely to assuage her core constituency—or, indeed, the rest of the country—which is increasingly opposed to continuing the war; the only red meat she throws at her base is a sharp rebuke to the Bushies for “impugning the patriotism of their critics.” Don’t mistake criticism for “softness,” she rails: Hillary, the war goddess, is no softy. Nor should we confuse her critique of the administration’s means with a fundamental objection to the War Party’s ends.

What does Hillary want? A smarter, smoother, better-planned interventionism, one that our allies find more amenable and yet is, in many ways, more militant than the Republican version—one that “levels with the American people” about the costs of empire and yet doesn’t dispute the alleged necessity of American hegemony. As she finds her voice as a would-be commander in chief, it isn’t one the traditional Left in this country will recognize. Hers is not the party of Eugene McCarthy but of the neoconservative Wittmann.

“If some Democrats have a modicum of imagination,” Wittmann recently wrote, “they would move to the President’s right on national security. Of course, that would require them to take on some of those on the left flank. But, if a donkey is ever to occupy the Oval Office in the foreseeable future, he or she must be perceived as being as tough or tougher than the Republicans on national security.”

The Hillary wing of the Democratic Party is taking “the Moose” up on his bet that they can outflank the Bush administration on the war front, with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee head Congressman Rahm Emanuel taking the lead by working actively to spike antiwar candidates like Paul Hackett. When Congressman Murtha denounced the war, Emanuel snapped, “Jack Murtha went out and spoke for Jack Murtha.” Not true: he spoke for the majority of Americans, who now oppose the war and want out, and especially for the activist base of the Democratic party, which cheered while the bigwigs sought to distance themselves. What then is his party’s position on the central issue of the day? “At the right time we will have a position” on the war, he avers, and yet Emanuel has a position decidedly in favor of continuing and even escalating the conflict.

Asked recently by Tim Russert if he would still vote for the resolution authorizing war with Iraq knowing that the WMD meme was a crock, Emanuel’s answer was an unequivocal “Yes.” His critique of the president’s war policy is, like that of many, if not most, Democrats, limited to means, not ends. “There was not a plan” for the war’s aftermath, says Emanuel, and all he and his fellows in Congress want is not a reconsideration of our policy but only “a modicum of competency in the management of this war.” Taking up the Kerry mantra, Emanuel urges the president to “level with the American people” about the long hard slog fighting to “win” in Iraq will require—as if some magic blueprint could put a wrongheaded policy right.

Russert pulled his quote-out-of-a-hat trick—“So as long as our troops [are] engaged, we should suspend the debate over how and why, focus on the mission, unite as a country, in prayer and resolve, hope for a speedy resolution of this war with a minimum of loss. God bless America”—and wondered whether this didn’t contradict what Emanuel had just said. The answer, a flat “No,” was telling: “In fact, Tim, what I actually believe it’s consistent in this perspective. … I think the president came, as you know, for resolution to Congress. He got that. Second, he asked multiple times for the resources to fight that war. He has got that. What we ask in return is a plan.”

Yet what sort of plan could possibly have prevented the dissolution of the Iraqi state and the onset of civil war? What would have blocked the Iranians from extending their influence into the Shi’ite south of the country and taking over the leadership of the central government in Baghdad? It’s true that General Shinseki warned that we would need 200,000 soldiers to manage the occupation. Without radically reducing our commitments elsewhere, however, such a force is largely imaginary—unless the Democratic plan involves reintroducing the draft. Nothing quite so forthright has come from Emanuel’s direction—only vague hopes that somehow the Europeans will come to our rescue.

If the Democratic establishment’s stance on the war is at odds with the party’s antiwar activist base, then their outright warmongering on the Iranian issue puts the two factions on a collision course. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—who effectively quashed fellow California Democrat Lynn Woolsey’s resolution calling for a withdrawal timetable —has followed the Hillary-Emanuel-DLC party line, while managing somehow to assuage her constituents with plenty of pork and partisan rhetoric. When it comes to Iran, however, she is just as belligerent as the next neocon: Pelosi co-sponsored legislation imposing draconian economic sanctions on Iran and stops just short of calling another war.

If Hillary maintains her lead in the Democratic presidential sweepstakes—and with over $21 million in the bank, she’s way ahead of any potential rivals—and the party establishment effectively strangles insurgent antiwar activism at the grassroots level, an increasingly “isolationist” electorate will be faced with a choice between two interventionist candidates, giving credence to what Garet Garrett, that lion of the Old Right, bitterly observed in 1951:

Between government in the republican meaning, that is, Constitutional, representative, limited government, on the one hand, and Empire on the other hand, there is mortal enmity. Either one must forbid the other or one will destroy the other. That we know. Yet never has the choice been put to a vote of the people.


Justin Raimondo is editorial director of Antiwar.com.


Hillary’s war:
How conviction replaced skepticism in Libya intervention

by Joby Warrick
Washington Post, 2011-10-28

[The role Hillary Clinton and her staff played in shaping and editing this article
is discussed in the 2016-02-26 Breitbart article below.]

TRIPOLI, Libya — At 5:45 p.m. on March 19, three hours before the official start of the air campaign over Libya, four French Rafale jet fighters streaked across the Mediterranean coastline to attack a column of tanks heading toward the rebel city of Benghazi. The jets quickly obliterated their targets — and in doing so nearly upended the international alliance coming to Benghazi’s rescue.

France’s head start on the air war infuriated Italy’s prime minister, who accused Paris of upstaging NATO. Silvio Berlusconi warned darkly of cutting access to Italian air bases vital to the alliance’s warplanes.

“It nearly broke up the coalition,” said a European diplomat who had a front-row seat to the events and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters between allies. Yet the rift was quickly patched, thanks to a frenzied but largely unseen lobbying effort that kept the coalition from unraveling in its opening hours.

“That,” the diplomat said, “was Hillary.”

Seven months later, with longtime U.S. nemesis Moammar Gaddafi dead and Libya’s onetime rebels now in charge, the coalition air campaign has emerged as a foreign policy success for the Obama administration and its most famous Cabinet member, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Some Republicans derided the effort as “leading from behind,” while many others questioned why President Obama was entangling the nation in another overseas military campaign that had little strategic urgency and scant public support. But with NATO operations likely to end this week, U.S. officials and key allies are offering a detailed new defense of the approach and Clinton’s pivotal role — both within a divided Cabinet and a fragile, assembled-on-the-fly international alliance.

What emerges from these accounts is a picture of Clinton using her mixture of political pragmatism and tenacity to referee spats among NATO partners, secure crucial backing from Arab countries and tutor rebels on the fine points of message management.

Clinton, in an interview, acknowledged “periods of anguish and buyer’s remorse” during the seven months of the campaign. But, she said, “we set into motion a policy that was on the right side of history, on the right side of our values, on the right side of our strategic interests in the region.”

From skeptic to advocate

During the initial weeks of unrest in Libya, Clinton was among the White House officials clinging to fading hopes that Gaddafi might fall without any help from the West.

From the first armed resistance on Feb. 18 until March 9, the disorganized opposition movement appeared to be on a roll, taking control of Libyan cities from Benghazi to Brega and Misurata on the Mediterranean coast. But in a single, bloody week, Gaddafi loyalists turned rebel gains into a rout, crushing resistance in towns across Libya before marshaling forces for a final drive against Benghazi, the last opposition stronghold.

With Gaddafi threatening to slaughter Benghazi’s population “like rats,” the rebel leaders pleaded for Western intervention, including a no-fly zone. The appeal garnered support in Europe, particularly among French and British officials who began working on the text of a U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize the use of military force against the Libyan autocrat.

But the idea of a no-fly zone drew skepticism from within the Obama White House. Some officials, most notably then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, opposed military intervention. And Clinton, during two trips to Europe in early March, made clear that Washington was not eager to lead a politically risky military campaign against yet another Muslim country.

She was loath to see Gaddafi trouncing aspiring democrats in his country and menacing fledgling governments in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia. But Clinton told aides, who later described the administration’s inner workings on the condition of anonymity, that the hard reality was that a no-fly zone, by itself, might make things worse.

“We were opposed to doing something symbolic — that was the worst of both worlds,” said one of the aides. “We would have crossed the threshold [of intervention] without accomplishing anything.”

Clinton had drawn up a list of conditions that included a formal request by Arab states for intervention. On March 12, the 22-nation Arab League did exactly that, voting to ask for U.N. approval of a military no-fly zone over Libya.

The next day, March 13, Clinton traveled to Paris for a meeting with foreign ministers from the Group of Eight countries. In the marbled conference rooms of Paris’s Westin Hotel, she sat down for the first time with Mahmoud Jibril, the interim leader of Libya’s fledgling Transitional National Council. She also met privately with Persian Gulf diplomats to gauge Arab willingness to send warplanes to enforce a possible no-fly zone. And she huddled with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose country’s veto potentially could block any intervention effort at the United Nations.

“When she went to Paris, there were no instructions from the White House on whether to support strong action in Libya,” said a senior State Department official, who explained that no consensus had been reached within the national security cabinet at the time. Yet, within three days, the official said, Clinton began to see a way forward.

“This was an opportunity for the United States to respond to an Arab request for help,” the official said. “It would increase U.S. standing in the Arab world, and it would send an important signal for the Arab Spring movement.”

By March 15, when Clinton spoke with Obama by phone to brief him on the meetings, she had become a “strong advocate” for U.S. intervention, one administration official said. The president, who had been weighing arguments from a sharply divided Cabinet for several days, sided with his secretary of state.

Clinton was halfway across the Atlantic on March 17 when a resolution went before the U.N. Security Council authorizing a Libyan intervention with “all necessary means” — U.N. code for military force. From the plane, Clinton worked the phones while the administration’s ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, met with counterparts to line up votes and to ensure that both Russia and China would withhold their vetoes.

The resolution passed, 10 to 0, with five countries abstaining.

Keeping alliance together

The French air attack that so angered the Italians two days later grew from French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s desire to launch an early, symbolic strike before the official start of the campaign. The White House did not object — Sarkozy had been a key advocate of military intervention, and French leadership on Libya had boosted the president’s popularity at home.

But the other allies were wary. France had floated the idea of a command structure distinct from NATO that would include some Arab countries while excluding Germany and other opponents of intervention. Italy and Turkey, meanwhile, insisted on NATO control and threatened to boycott any other arrangement.

The early French attack deepened suspicions by the two countries that Sarkozy harbored “hidden agendas,” as Turkish President Abdullah Gul later said. French officials countered that NATO was too divided and ill-prepared to move quickly enough to help the rebels.

With the alliance threatening to unravel, Clinton focused on damage control. She spent hours on the phone and in person with Berlusconi and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, who eventually played crucial roles in providing air bases as staging grounds for attacks.

The details of the military command were ultimately decided in a four-way conference call with Clinton, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Yet even as that conflict cooled, another one was erupting.

Several Arab states, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, had agreed to supply warplanes and pilots to the coalition in a symbolic show of support by Muslim countries for military action against Libya.

But three days into the bombing campaign, the Arabs appeared to be backing away, concerned by the possibility of a backlash in their own countries and angered by U.S. criticism of the Saudi-led military intervention in Bahrain to put down an uprising there. By March 24, Qatar’s four promised jets still had not yet made an appearance over Libya, and the United Arab Emirates and Jordan had announced that they would provide only humanitarian assistance.

In a bid to woo the Arabs back into the alliance, Clinton spoke at length by phone with Sheik Hamad Bin Jasim al-Thani, the Qatari foreign minister, while also making repeated calls to the UAE’s Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and to Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

“This is important to the United States, it’s important to the president, and it’s important to me personally,” Clinton told Arab leaders, according to one of the State Department officials.

On March 25, Qatari-flagged Mirage 2000 jets flew their first sorties over Libya. All three countries eventually would supply military aircraft and experienced pilots to the Libyan campaign.

Getting past stalemate

The NATO-led air campaign quickly pushed Gaddafi’s forces from Benghazi. But by May, the alliance’s planes were patrolling front lines that barely moved.

In Washington and in Europe, the word “stalemate” began to creep into opinion columns as lawmakers, skeptical of U.S. policy in Libya, began threatening to block funds for military operations there. Meanwhile, a cash crunch also loomed for the rebels, who were unable to sell oil and were legally blocked from tapping into Gaddafi’s overseas bank accounts. By early July, they had run out of money for weapons, food and other critical supplies.

Clinton, ignoring the advice of the State Department’s lawyers, convinced Obama to grant full diplomatic recognition to the rebels, a move that allowed the Libyans access to billions of dollars from Gaddafi’s frozen accounts. At a meeting in Istanbul on July 15, she pressed 30 other Western and Arab governments to make the same declaration.

“She brought everyone over at once,” said a Western diplomat who attended the Istanbul meeting.

Tripoli fell five weeks later, after a relatively small U.S. expenditure of $1 billion and with no regular U.S. troops on the ground. In the air campaign, U.S. jets flew less than a third of the missions but supplied critical support in air refueling, surveillance and logistics for sorties flown by more than a dozen other nations.

Still, no hero’s welcome

The political benefits to Clinton and Obama remain far from clear. To many Libyans and others in the Muslim world, the lasting impression from the campaign is that of a reluctant America, slow to intervene and happy to let others take the lead. While Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron were given heroes’ welcomes during victory laps through Libya last month, Clinton was confronted during her recent Tripoli visit with questions about why the United States had not done more.

“Many people feel that the United States has taken a back seat,” one student told her.

U.S. critics of the administration’s policy say its Libya policy, while ultimately successful, is emblematic of a slow and haphazard response to the Arab Spring uprisings.

“Earlier intervention might have prevented the conflict from ever reaching that dangerous precipice,” said Michael Singh, who served as senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council under President George W. Bush.“There is a difference between building an international consensus and following one.”

Clinton acknowledged that history’s verdict on the Libyan intervention was far from assured and said that NATO’s formula for aiding a popular uprising against a dictatorship may not be easily applied elsewhere.

“We need to assess where we are, what we accomplished together, what the costs were,” Clinton said. Meanwhile, she said, “we do have to be more agile and flexible in dealing with a lot of the challenges we face, and we should be unembarrassed about that.”


A tough call on Libya that still haunts
Hillary Clinton says the 2011 decision to bomb the country was ‘smart power.’
Critics say it was a failure to learn from Iraq.
Story by Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post, 2016-02-04

When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walked into the gilded Elysee Palace in Paris on March 14, 2011, she found a fired-up French President Nicolas Sarkozy eager to launch military strikes in Libya.

It had been nearly a month since Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s security forces had gunned down more than a dozen protesters in Tripoli, touched off a civil war and threatened to slaughter thousands more rebels like “rats.”

[So how different is that from how Israel treats Palestinian protestors?
Why the double standard between
the view of Israel's treatment of its internal rebels and
the view of how Muslim rulers treat rebels against their rule?]


A few hours later, after consultations with British and Arab allies and a leader of the Libyan opposition all demanding action,
Clinton joined a White House meeting of President Obama’s National Security Council by phone and forcefully urged the president to take military action.

Clinton’s decision to shed her initial reluctance and strongly back a military operation in Libya was one of the most significant — and risky — of her career.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates,
national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon and others
were against military action,
contending that the United States had no clear national interests at stake
and that operations could last far longer and cost more lives than anyone anticipated.

But Clinton joined U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice and White House adviser Samantha Power
in pressing Obama to back a U.S.- and NATO-led military campaign,
arguing that the United States could not let Gaddafi butcher his citizens.

[Note the gender difference in desire to intervene.]

Obama sided with Clinton’s argument, and three days later, on March 17,
the U.N. Security Council passed a U.S.-backed resolution authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians.
U.S. warplanes immediately destroyed Libya’s air defenses before turning the operation over to NATO,
which continued strikes until Gaddafi was captured and killed in October.


But Libya today has deteriorated into a virtual failed state run by hundreds of private militias. Eighteen months after the initial airstrikes, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in attacks by militants on a U.S. diplomatic post and a nearby CIA site in Benghazi. The North African nation has become a primary outpost for the Islamic State, which has exploited the chaos to take territory, train soldiers and prove its strength outside Syria and Iraq.

[Note also that arms seized from Libyan army depots
were used by the forces which have destabilized many of the states south of Libya,
such as Mali.
The downfall of Gaddafi’s regime played a significant role, possibly a necessary one,
in spreading chaos through much of the region.]


Clinton has repeatedly defended the Libya military intervention as U.S. “smart power at its best.”

“We had a murderous dictator . . . threatening to massacre large numbers of the Libyan people,” she said during an October [2015] Democratic presidential debate. “We had our closest allies in Europe burning up the phone lines begging us to help them try to prevent what they saw as a mass genocide, in their words. And we had the Arabs standing by our side saying, ‘We want you to help us deal with Gaddafi.’ ”

But where Clinton sees “smart power,” her attackers see poor judgment and a failure to learn from mistakes made in Iraq — a war that Clinton initially voted for as a senator, then acknowledged was a mistake during her 2008 Democratic primary campaign against Barack Obama.

As in Iraq, Clinton backed a military operation that toppled a dictator yet was marred by poor postwar planning that led to violent chaos and the ultimate rise of new and even greater threats to U.S. interests.

Much of the criticism has been over the killing of Gaddafi when the U.N. mandate was only to protect civilian life.

While few mourned the loss of Gaddafi, his death, at the hands of opposition forces, has had long-term effects on U.S. relations abroad. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was his country’s prime minister during the debate over Libya, remains highly critical of the decision to pass the resolution, which he asserts Washington used as a justification for eliminating Gaddafi. Analysts have said Putin’s anger over Libya has been a key stumbling block in diplomatic discussions about whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should stay or go.

“How did we move from protecting civilians to the decapitation of the entire military and the state? I don’t know the answer,” said the European diplomat. “The Russians accused us of playing fast and loose with the resolution, and Putin never misses a chance to throw that in our faces.”


“The horrific situation in Libya demands more than just public condemnation; it requires strong international action,” Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) said in a statement.

The senators, Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and others were calling for the United States and allies to establish a no-fly zone over Libya to ground Gaddafi’s planes and helicopters, which had been attacking and killing rebels and protesters.

“Libya was a case where we needed to get out there, seize the moment and support these people,” said Lieberman, who retired from the Senate in 2013. “We wanted [Obama and Clinton] to understand that what was happening in Libya was important to the future of the Arab world and American credibility.”


A powerful group of Obama national security officials,
starting with Vice President Biden and [former Defense Secretary Robert] Gates,
were lined up solidly against any U.S. military involvement in Libya.

In his book “Duty,” Gates wrote that as of Feb. 26,
other officials on his side included
[National Security Adviser Thomas] Donilon,
Chief of Staff William M. Daley,
Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen,
deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough and
homeland security adviser John Brennan.
[All male.]
The primary advocates for military action were
[U.N. Ambassador Susan] Rice and
[White House adviser Samantha] Power.
[All female.]

The secretary of state had to pick a side.

[So those for intervention were one black male (President Obama)
and three women (SecState Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Rice, and Power).
Those against were all white men.
Interesting demographics.]


More Hillary Clinton emails released on eve of Nevada caucuses
By Josh Gerstein and Rachael Bade
Politico, 2016-02-19: 02/19/16 08:24 PM EST

The State Department released more than 1,100 additional pages of Hillary Clinton's emails Friday night,
shedding light on her handling of diplomatic crises ...


Celebrating Clinton "turning [Obama] around," apparently on Libya

The emails reflect the near-jubilation of Clinton's allies
over what appears to be her success at persuading President Barack Obama
to join a military intervention in Libya.
The operation was billed as humanitarian,
but ultimately led to the toppling of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi.

"I cannot imagine how exhausted you must be after this week,
but I have NEVER been prouder of having worked for you,"
former State policy planning director Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote to Clinton
in a March 19, 2011 message bearing the subject line "bravo!"
and sent two days after passage of a key U.N. Security Council resolution on the crisis.
"Turning POTUS around on this is a major win for everything we have worked for."


Emails suggest Clinton led Libya intervention
By Sarah Westwood
Washington Examiner, 2016-02-19

New emails made public Friday night suggest that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was happy to advocate for a U.S. intervention in Libya, even though Clinton has recently downplayed her personal role in pushing the U.S. to get involved in that country.

For example, in one exchange from October 2011, Clinton's aides discussed an upcoming article titled "Clinton's key role in Libya conflict" that indicated Clinton personally persuaded President Obama to approve the use of military force to overthrow Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The conversation between Philippe Reines, a longtime Clinton spokesman, and aides Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills was partially redacted by the State Department.

"Clinton, ignoring the advice of the State Department's lawyers, convinced Obama to grant full diplomatic recognition to the rebels," read an excerpt from the unpublished Washington Post story Reines sent to Clinton in 2011.

The story indicated Clinton actively sought to "secure crucial backing from Arab countries" before stepping into the civil conflict.

However, when pressed on the issue in the first Democratic debate last year, Clinton defended the intervention by arguing European allies were "blowing up the phone lines begging us to help them" and that the U.S. "had the Arabs standing by our side saying, 'we want you to help us deal with Gadhafi.' "

Clinton's characterization of the Libyan intervention, now widely regarded as a foreign policy mistake, has been one of passive and reluctant participation in the administration's goals as she struggled to shed her image as a hawkish Democrat.

But emails made public over the course of the past nine months have painted a picture of a secretary of state eager to take credit for her "leadership" and "ownership" of the Libyan engagement.


Hillary Emails: Clinton Personally Oversaw Corrections to Already-Glowing Washington Post Profile
by Aaron Klein
Breitbart.com, 2016-02-26

[This article discusses released emails to or from Hillary Clinton
which discussed the editing of
the 2011-10-28 Washington Post article "Hillary’s war: How conviction replaced skepticism in Libya intervention".]

Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall
(The Libya Gamble, Part 1)

New York Times, 2016-02-28 (Part 1 of "The Libya Gamble")

The president was wary.
The secretary of state was persuasive.
But the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi
left Libya a failed state and a terrorist haven.


This is the story of how a woman whose Senate vote for the Iraq war
may have doomed her first presidential campaign
nonetheless doubled down and pushed for military action in another Muslim country.
As she once again seeks the White House,
campaigning in part on her experience as the nation’s chief diplomat,
an examination of the intervention she championed shows her at
what was arguably her moment of greatest influence as secretary of state.
It is a working portrait rich with evidence of what kind of president she might be,
and especially of her expansive approach
to the signal foreign-policy conundrum of today:
whether, when and how the United States should wield its military power
in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.


Anne-Marie Slaughter, her director of policy planning at the State Department,
notes that in conversation and in her memoir,
Mrs. Clinton repeatedly speaks of wanting to be “caught trying.”
In other words, she would rather be criticized for what she has done
than for having done nothing at all.

“She’s very careful and reflective,” Ms. Slaughter said.
“But when the choice is between action and inaction,
and you’ve got risks in either direction, which you often do,
she’d rather be caught trying.”

[That is is the sort of comment normally applied to one's personal life,
where the potential risks will accrue to the individual making the decision.
But when the risks accrue to others,
what old fogeys such as myself look for are words like "wisdom" and "prudence",
qualities which those who have pushed for America's interventions
seem to sorely lack.

In fact, how often these days do you see the words "prudence" or "prudent" being used in the newspapers?
It is almost as if today's journalists view prudence as an obsolete concept,
one abandoned in their Brave New World of the twenty-first century.]

The New York Times’s examination of the intervention offers a detailed accounting of how Mrs. Clinton’s deep belief in America’s power to do good in the world ran aground in a tribal country with no functioning government, rival factions and a staggering quantity of arms. The Times interviewed more than 50 American, Libyan and European officials, including many of the principal actors. Virtually all agreed to comment on the record. They expressed regret, frustration and in some cases bewilderment about what went wrong and what might have been done differently.

Was the mistake the decision to intervene in the first place, or the mission creep from protecting civilians to ousting a dictator, or the failure to send a peacekeeping force in the aftermath?

Mrs. Clinton declined to be interviewed. But in public, she has said it is “too soon to tell” how things will turn out in Libya and has called for a more interventionist approach in Syria.

Libya’s descent into chaos began with a rushed decision to go to war, made in what one top official called a “shadow of uncertainty” as to Colonel Qaddafi’s intentions. The mission inexorably evolved even as Mrs. Clinton foresaw some of the hazards of toppling another Middle Eastern strongman. She pressed for a secret American program that supplied arms to rebel militias, an effort never before confirmed.

Only after Colonel Qaddafi fell
and what one American diplomat called “the endorphins of revolution” faded
did it become clear that
Libya’s new leaders were unequal to the task of unifying the country,
[That is simply not true in general.
There were, in fact, many people with deep insight into Libya
who argued precisely that,
even before the intervention.
It is, in my view, scandalous that the New York Times
does not acknowledge that basic truth.]

and that the elections Mrs. Clinton and President Obama pointed to as proof of success only deepened Libya’s divisions.



When Mr. Jibril and his Libyan entourage showed up in Rome in May [2011] to meet with Mrs. Clinton,
they expected a 10-minute check-in.
Instead, they talked for nearly an hour.

The opposition leaders had already given her a white paper setting out a spectacular future:
Political parties would compete in open elections,
a free news media would hold leaders accountable
and women’s rights would be respected.

In retrospect, Mr. Jibril acknowledged in an interview,
it was a “utopian ideal” quite detached from Libyan reality.
But Mrs. Clinton had been enthusiastic, according to those in attendance,
and now she wanted to talk in greater depth about how to turn the vision into reality.


A New Libya, With ‘Very Little Time Left’
New York Times, 2016-02-29 (Part 2 of "The Libya Gamble")
The fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi seemed to vindicate Hillary Clinton.
Then militias refused to disarm, neighbors fanned a civil war, and the Islamic State found refuge.

Libya Between the Lines
by Margaret Steinfels
turcopolier.typepad.com (Col. Patrick Lang's blog), 2016-02-28

[This is a brief summary of the two New York Times articles on
the U.S. role in the 2011 intervention in Libya, especially Hillary Clinton's role,
and the general outcome of that intervention.


What may be of particular interest here are the sources for the story,
the influence (or lack thereof) by other Obama Administration officials,
the role that Clinton and her deputies played in the decision,
and the somewhat surprising, at least to me, claim that
there was little official intelligence about Libya available as decisions were being made.
Much of the "information" is said to have come from news stories.


[Some of the comments to the post are quite provocative, e.g.:]

[I] do not believe for a minute that U.S. intelligence did not know what was happening.
No one was watching the jihadis in Benghazi?

It's a fairy tale exculpating the NYT itself, which marketed the war, and Clinton.
A sorry whitewash.

The Libya debacle undermines Clinton’s foreign policy credentials
by George F. Will
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2016-03-30


Libya, however, was what is known in tennis as an “unforced error,” and [Hillary] Clinton was, with President Obama, its co-author.

On March 28, 2011, nine days after the seven-month attack on Libya began and 10 days after saying that it would last “days, not weeks,” Obama gave the nation televised assurance that “the task that I assigned our forces [is] to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger and to establish a no-fly zone.” He said that U.S. forces would play only a “supporting role” in what he called a “NATO-based” operation, although only eight of NATO’s 28 members participated and the assault could not have begun without U.S. assets. Obama added: “Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.”

The next day, a Clinton deputy repeated this to a Senate committee. And then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at the time that no vital U.S. interest was at stake. Recently, he told the New York Times that “the fiction was maintained” that the goal was to cripple Moammar Gaddafi’s ability to attack other Libyans. This was supposedly humanitarian imperialism implementing “R2P,” the “responsibility to protect.” Perhaps as many as — many numbers were bandied — 10,000 Libyans. R2P did not extend to protecting the estimated 200,000 Syrians that have been killed since 2011 by Bashar al-Assad’s tanks, artillery, bombers, barrel bombs and poison gas.

Writing for Foreign Policy online, Micah Zenko, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, notes that “just hours into the intervention, Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from a British submarine stationed in the Mediterranean Sea struck an administrative building in [Gaddafi’s] Bab al-Azizia compound, less than 50 yards away from the dictator’s residence.” A senior military official carefully insisted that Gaddafi was “not on a targeting list.” This was sophistry in the service of cynicism: For months, places he might have been were on targeting lists.

The pretense was that this not-really-NATO operation, with the United States “supporting” it, was merely to enforce U.N. resolutions about protecting Libyans from Gaddafi. Zenko, however, argues that the coalition “actively chose not to enforce” the resolution prohibiting arms transfers to either side in the civil war. While a senior NATO military official carefully said “I have no information about” arms coming into Libya, and another carefully said that no violation of the arms embargo “has been reported,” Zenko writes that “Egypt and Qatar were shipping advanced weapons to rebel groups the whole time, with the blessing of the Obama administration.”

On May 24, 2011, NATO released a public relations video showing sailors from a Canadian frigate, supposedly enforcing the arms embargo, boarding a rebel tugboat laden with arms. The video’s narrator says: “NATO decides not to impede the rebels and to let the tugboat proceed.” Zenko writes, “A NATO surface vessel stationed in the Mediterranean to enforce an arms embargo did exactly the opposite, and NATO was comfortable posting a video demonstrating its hypocrisy.”

On Oct. 20, 2011, Clinton, while visiting Afghanistan, was told that insurgents, assisted by a U.S. Predator drone, had caught and slaughtered Gaddafi. She quipped: “We came, we saw, he died.” She later said that her words expressed “relief” that the mission “had achieved its end.”

Oh, so this military adventure was, after all, history’s most protracted and least surreptitious assassination. Regime change was deliberately accomplished by the determined decapitation of the old regime, and Libyans are now living in the result — a failed state.

Stopping in Libya en route to Afghanistan two days before Gaddafi’s death, Clinton said, “I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Libya.” If you seek her presidential credential, look there.

How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk
Throughout her career she has displayed instincts on foreign policy
that are more aggressive than those of President Obama — and most Democrats.
New York Times Magazine, 2016-04-24

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