Hillary Clinton Backs a New US War in Libya
March 2, 2016
Steve Weissman / Reader Supported News
As Paris, London, and Washington send Special Forces and covert agents into Libya to set the stage for a new allied intervention, Hillary backs the coming war. Secretary of State in 2011, she led the earlier effort to convince a wary President Obama to intervene against Gadhafi, defeating her usual ally, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who saw no core American interest in Libya.
PARIS (February 29, 2016) -- As Paris, London, and Washington send Special Forces and covert agents into Libya to set the stage for a new allied intervention, Hillary backs the coming war.
Secretary of State in 2011, she led the earlier effort to convince a wary President Obama to intervene against Gadhafi, defeating her usual ally, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who saw no core American interest in Libya.
Like George W. Bush's ill-fated invasion of Iraq, Hillary's intervention in Libya was a war of choice that the United States had no good reason to fight -- and a lot of good reasons not to, as her eagerness for a second war now confirms.
The New York Times on Sunday gave a detailed account of how she convinced Obama in "what was arguably her moment of greatest influence as secretary of state." It is, said the authors, "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: when and how the United States should wield its military power in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East."
Having skillfully won the earlier battle in Washington, Hillary ultimately lost the war in Libya. The fall of Gadhafi "seemed to vindicate Hillary Clinton," the Times wrote. "Then militias refused to disarm, neighbors fanned a civil war, and the Islamic State found refuge."
Add the destabilizing spread of Gadhafi's enormous store of weapons to Syrian and sub-Saharan Africa, and Libya's role in helping promote the refugee crisis in Europe, and no one can avoid the big question: Did Hillary screw up? To which she has found the perfect dodge. It's too early to tell, she told a Congressional committee in October.
Or, as she told CNN's Chris Cuomo, we intervened at the time to prevent the dictator from massacring the people, and now we're going in "to try to help the Libyan people realize the dream that they had when they went after Gadhafi."
"You know, the United States was in Korea, and still is, for many years," she explained, channeling a favorite argument of Republican senator John McCain. "We are still in Germany. We are still in Japan. We have a presence in a lot of places in the world that started out as a result of conflict. And if you think about South Korea, there were coups, there were assassinations, there was a lot of problems for the Koreans to build their economy, to create their democracy."
Remembering myriad details of her much-vaunted foreign policy experience, Hillary appears never to have asked why intervening in the former colonies of North Africa and the Middle East so consistently fails. The best answer I can find comes in Delphic fashion from oft-quoted Washington cynics.
In Iraq, they tell us, the United States intervened and occupied -- and things went to hell. In Libya, the United States intervened but did not occupy -- and things went to hell. And in Syria, the United States neither intervened nor occupied -- and things still went to hell.
In other words, the problem is not in in how we intervened, but that we intervened. This puts Hillary on the wrong side of history, at least as seen by large numbers of people in the region's former European colonies. The anti-colonial sentiment appears less fervent in sub-Saharan Africa, where US Special Forces are often seen working closely with their French counterparts.
But no one doubts that al-Qaeda and Daesh-affiliated groups gain strength by being the only groups truly willing to fight against a return of Western colonialism. Having failed to learn these lessons, Hillary remains the have-gun, will-travel paladin of liberal imperialism.
The new war in Libya, which she now supports, seems largely invisible to American media. But, it became headline news here in France on Thursday, when Le Monde broke through official secrecy and revealed that French special forces and clandestine agents were operating in Libya in close cooperation with their Americans and British allies.
The French Minister of Defense was furious and launched a secret investigation into who leaked the secret information to Le Monde. My guess is that the major leaks came from within the French military, where many officers feel over-extended by their current interventions in Syria and Africa.
"Things are on the way now for a major operation in Libya," explained Gen. Dominique Trinquand, the former head of the French Military Mission to the United Nations and a frequent commentator on the government-owned France 24. "You prepare an operation. So you send either Special Forces or people under cover into the country. . . . They are mainly spotting important targets for the future" and "establishing liaison with people who will fight against Daesh."
Some of these troops -- French, British, or American -- called in the drone attack on the Libyan city of Sabrathan, which reportedly killed up to 40 people.
The target, now claimed by a Pentagon spokesman, was a Tunisian national, Noureddine Chouchane, whom authorities in Tunis accused of masterminding murderous attacks last year at the Bardo museum (22 deaths) and a tourist resort (38 deaths).
Also part of the build-up to war, Italy has given the Americans the go-ahead to fly their drones into Libya and against Daesh targets elsewhere in Northern Africa from an Italian base in Sicily.
No one has said exactly when the new war will move into the open, but as Marine Corps general Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joints Chief of Staff, said back on January 22, the decision on whether and when to begin decisive military action would probably come in weeks, but not hours.
Meeting with the French military chief Gen. Pierre de Villiers, Dunford publicly declared that President Obama had given authorization for military action. At least officially, the justification was to stem the growth in power of the Islamic State in Libya before it spread throughout North Africa and the sub-Saharan countries.
It will be fascinating to see how a new war with Hillary's blessing will affect the presidential primaries.
A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold.
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