February 29, 2016

From Iraq to Libya, Clinton’s Bad Judgment Persisted

Over the weekend the New York Times released a massive two-part series on the Obama Administration’s actions in the run-up and aftermath of the Libya invasion. The stories underscore that military action in Libya had no greater champion than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Tragically, Libya is now a failed state and terrorist haven.

Despite the fact that it “may have doomed her first presidential campaign” and that she later apologized for it, Clinton “nonetheless doubled down and pushed for military action in another Muslim country.”

Unlike with Iraq though, where Clinton’s voice was just one in a hundred, during the Libya intervention debate Clinton played the decisive role in pushing for military force:

“Mr. Gates, among others, thought Mrs. Clinton’s backing decisive. Mr. Obama later told him privately in the Oval Office, he said, that the Libya decision was ’51-49.’ ‘I’ve always thought that Hillary’s support for the broader mission in Libya put the president on the 51 side of the line for a more aggressive approach,’ Mr. Gates said.”

Clinton’s pivotal role was once a cause for boastfulness from her staff. At one point Clinton’s aides even distributed a “ticktock” of Clinton’s “starring role” in the intervention:

“For weeks top aides had been circulating a “ticktock” that described her starring role in the events that had led to this moment. The timeline, her top policy aide, Jake Sullivan, wrote, demonstrated Mrs. Clinton’s ‘leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s Libya policy from start to finish.’”

Yet while Clinton and her aides were celebrating, the bad actors in Libya were planning. That development, along with Clinton’s failed judgment has had dire costs. While Pandora’s box was unleashed in Libya, the consequences are being felt throughout the whole region:

“The looting of Colonel Qaddafi’s vast weapons arsenals during the intervention has fed the Syrian civil war, empowered terrorist and criminal groups from Nigeria to Sinai, and destabilized Mali, where Islamist militants stormed a Radisson hotel in November and killed 20 people. A growing trade in humans has sent a quarter-million refugees north across the Mediterranean, with hundreds drowning en route.”

Perhaps most troubling of all, Clinton’s failure to plan for what would happen after the fall of Colonel Qaddafi has given ISIS not just a safe haven, but a stronghold:

“Amid that fighting, the Islamic State has built its most important outpost on the Libyan shore, a redoubt to fall back upon as it is bombed in Syria and Iraq. With the Pentagon saying the Islamic State’s fast-growing force now numbers between 5,000 and 6,500 fighters, some of Mr. Obama’s top national security aides are pressing for a second American military intervention in Libya.”

During this campaign, Clinton and her surrogates have tried to position her as ready to be Commander-in-Chief on day one. However, the current conditions in Libya, which has led to a stronghold for an aspiring caliphate, is perhaps the most glaring example of Clinton’s failure in judgement as Secretary of State.