June 27, 2014

Clinton’s Libya: “North Africa’s Most Active Militant Sanctuary”

The Los Angeles Times has a chilling piece on how following the U.S. intervention in Libya, the government has all but collapsed the country has “turned into the kind of place U.S. officials most fear: a lawless land that attracts terrorists, pumps out illegal arms and drugs and destabilizes its neighbors.”

Immediately after the NATO-backed intervention in 2010, Hillary Clinton, who was its most important proponent within the administration, crowed that “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,” and allies have cited her role as a key success.

The story below shows Clinton has been prematurely spiking the football, as Libya has devolved toward a failed state that harbors terrorists, destabilizes the region and undermines U.S. national security.

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But in three years Libya has turned into the kind of place U.S. officials most fear: a lawless land that attracts terrorists, pumps out illegal arms and drugs and destabilizes its neighbors. …

Arms trafficking from Libya “is fueling conflict and insecurity — including terrorism — on several continents,” an expert panel reported to the United Nations Security Council in February. Weapons smuggled out of Libya have been used by insurgents in Mali, by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria and by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. …

Obama was initially reluctant to order the intervention, as were several top lieutenants, including former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Gates didn’t want to thrust overstretched U.S. forces into a potentially long war over a fractured society, and at one point he threatened to quit over it, he recalled in his memoir, “Duty.” But the move was supported by Rice and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who feared a looming humanitarian catastrophe. Clinton was the swing vote, Gates wrote. …

Last month, Clinton was asked at a Council on Foreign Relations event why the United States didn’t do more to mend Libya, since the U.S.-led military campaign had broken the old order.

“We did try,” she said. “That is a perfect case where people who’ve never had that opportunity to run anything, manage anything, even participate in meaningful politics, understandably are not even sure what questions to ask.”

Some observers are warning that the administration eventually may be forced to do more. A Rand Corp. report this spring predicted that if Libya’s problems continue to worsen, another NATO intervention might be required. …