CNN: Yes, Hillary has serious problems with Libya

posted at 8:41 pm on June 9, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

No kidding, but it’s not just Hillary Clinton who will struggle with the outcome of the Obama administration’s Libyan intervention in 2011. Today’s story about the Christians captured by ISIS while trying to escape through Tripoli, and other such stories that will surely follow, will keep raising this issue over and over again during the campaign. CNN’s Stephen Collinson calls this a real problem for Hillary, especially given her reliance on four years as Secretary of State to claim readiness for the top job:

She’s already grappling with the political headaches from deleted emails and from the terror attack that left four Americans dead in Benghazi.

But she’ll face a broader challenge in what’s become of the North African country since, as secretary of state in 2011, she was the public face of the U.S. intervention to push out its longtime strongman, Moammar Gadhafi.

Libya’s lapse into the chaos of failed statehood has provided a breeding ground for terror and a haven for groups such as ISIS. Its plight is also creating an opening for Republican presidential candidates to question Clinton’s strategic acumen and to undermine her diplomatic credentials, which will be at the center of her pitch that only she has the global experience needed to be president in a turbulent time.

Gathering questions over Libya also point to one of the central complications of Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic nomination, due to formally launch on Saturday: the fact that she must own a record at the State Department that lacks clear-cut diplomatic triumphs. She’ll also have to answer for misfires in the Obama administration’s wider foreign policy as GOP candidates who have not faced the same tough choices can nitpick her record with the advantage of hindsight.

Collinson uses an interesting construction on that point. The media have chased Republican candidates around the country to offer a hindsight hypothetical about the Iraq War, with varying results. No reporter seems interested in offering “the advantage of hindsight” on the Libyan intervention, which unlike Iraq didn’t get approval from Congress before, during, or after its execution. Why aren’t reporters asking Republicans to weigh in on that decision with the benefit of hindsight, I wonder?

That’s a rhetorical question.

Collinson poses the Libya question as a standoff between the need to choose between “action to avert human carnage or stand by and be accused of abetting genocide,” a construct that Hillary offered as the intervention began. But those were not the only two options on the table, nor were either of them what the Obama administration and NATO chose to do. They could have limited the intervention at attacking the lines of communication between Tripoli and Benghazi to force Qaddafi to halt his planned attack on the eastern city. Instead they chose another option altogether, which was regime change by air attack.

Even that choice had other options, although perhaps politically fraught. Once they decided to declare war on Qaddafi himself rather than just stop his operation against Benghazi, the US and NATO could have put together ground forces to secure the region once Qaddafi fell. Instead, Obama and Hillary both bragged about demonstrating a superior kind of intervention, one that didn’t involve American troops on the ground at all. “We came, we saw, he died,” Hillary chortled after Qaddafi’s death, echoing Julius Caesar with none of his military insight. What followed from the vacuum left in the wake of this style of intervention was entirely predictable.

That’s not just a problem for Hillary Clinton, though. Collinson believes that other Democrats could use it against her in the primaries, but any general election argument for another Democrat in the White House would have to be predicated in large part on continuity with existing policies. That’s especially true on foreign policy, where Democrats can be expected to use The Spectre Of W to argue that Republicans will fall back to a cowboy-diplomacy posture. If they nominate Hillary, of course, they’ll be endorsing the worst and most arrogant aspects of “cowboyism,” which is the arrogance that American power can be used without investment in the theaters involved and produce nothing but good outcomes. At least Bush understood that we needed troops on the ground to control outcomes, even if he underestimated the number it would take to do so.

So yes, Collinson is right that this is a “real” problem for Hillary, but it’s not limited to her.


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Comments

Of course on our side the biggest squeaky cheerleaders pushing Obama to invade Libya were Rubio and L Graham. Now both of them claim that they are “the most experienced” in foreign policy. What a joke.

anotherJoe on June 9, 2015 at 8:46 PM

Even that choice had other options, although perhaps politically fraught. Once they decided to declare war on Qaddafi himself rather than just stop his operation against Benghazi, the US and NATO could have put together ground forces to secure the region once Qaddafi fell. Instead, Obama and Hillary both bragged about demonstrating a superior kind of intervention

“Mission accomplished.”

Not.

anotherJoe on June 9, 2015 at 8:50 PM

Yes, Hillary has serious problems with Libya

Pfft, that cankled beotch has far more probs than just Libya.

bernzright777 on June 9, 2015 at 8:56 PM

Killary could become comatose tomorrow and it wouldn’t be a “real” problem for her — she’d still win the Dem nomination — and, with all the sympathy voting from dead and brain dead voters (see weedisgood), perhaps the Presidency as well …

ShainS on June 9, 2015 at 8:56 PM

No reporter seems interested in offering “the advantage of hindsight” on the Libyan intervention, which unlike Iraq didn’t get approval from Congress before, during, or after its execution.

Surely just an “oversight” on their part. They have so many questions to ask the Republican candidates.

Seeing as they are dumb enough to make themselves available for questions.

Unlike “The Queen”.

GarandFan on June 9, 2015 at 8:57 PM

They could have limited the intervention at attacking the lines of communication between Tripoli and Benghazi to force Qaddafi to halt his planned attack on the eastern city. Instead they chose another option altogether, which was regime change by air attack.

Ed, if I understood the situation at the time correctly, Qaddafi recognized the problem of the asQaeda-affiliateed terrorist camps in eastern Libya and was keeping them on the defensive. Our bombings freed those terrorists to overrun the area and evolve into the even more horrid ISIS.

onlineanalyst on June 9, 2015 at 9:00 PM

Balanced by an army of media apparatchiks who would surrender their own children to ISIS if it meant Killary remains a viable candidate.

Bishop on June 9, 2015 at 9:00 PM

No, she does not–check the transcript, Candy.

Christien on June 9, 2015 at 9:03 PM

Obama and Hillary both bragged about demonstrating a superior kind of intervention, one that didn’t involve American troops on the ground at all. “We came, we saw, he died,” Hillary chortled after Qaddafi’s death

…what do you think they liked best about his death?…the stick that went up…where the sun don’t shine?

JugEarsButtHurt on June 9, 2015 at 9:09 PM

“We came. We saw. He died. And maybe your presidency with him, fat old blood-thirsty granny.

de rigueur on June 9, 2015 at 9:10 PM

Gonna need a lotta Ben-Gay there, Hill.

profitsbeard on June 9, 2015 at 9:17 PM

Phony scandal ! Old news !! It’s been dealt with — repeatedly !!! We must reject CNN’s racist sexist, homophobic, Rethuglikkkan attacks !

Nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of Hillary’s #OccupyPennsylvaniaAvenue crusade !

/

RedPepper on June 9, 2015 at 9:22 PM

RedPepper on June 9, 2015 at 9:22 PM

Dude, that was — like — more than two years ago, bro …

ShainS on June 9, 2015 at 9:33 PM

reckon gadhafi ain’t the only quack!

Fred

jrsrigmvr on June 9, 2015 at 9:50 PM

Libya’s lapse into the chaos of failed statehood has provided a breeding ground for terror and a haven for groups such as ISIS. Its plight is also creating an opening for Republican presidential candidates to question Clinton’s strategic acumen and to undermine her diplomatic credentials, which will be at the center of her pitch that only she has the global experience needed to be president in a turbulent time.

Do not forget that Rubio was the biggest pusher and cheerleader for helping the “Freedom Fighters”, aka ISIS and ISIS Light, get rid of Gaddafi in Libya and his only complaint was that Obama and Hillary didn’t do it fast enough.

VorDaj on June 9, 2015 at 10:10 PM

And don’t forget the reset button.

That’s what she pressed when Bill screwed around. Didn’t work then, either.

hepcat on June 9, 2015 at 10:13 PM

“We have medical bills on the run”

“If you like your foreign policy, you can keep your foreign policy”

J_Crater on June 9, 2015 at 10:24 PM

The white guy went for the cop’s gun…..

Realdemocrat1 on June 9, 2015 at 10:28 PM

Clinton is toast. I said it first.

Basilsbest on June 9, 2015 at 10:32 PM

Wooooaaaahhh Delly

Realdemocrat1 on June 9, 2015 at 10:33 PM

Collinson uses an interesting construction on that point. The media have chased Republican candidates around the country to offer a hindsight hypothetical about the Iraq War, with varying results. No reporter seems interested in offering “the advantage of hindsight” on the Libyan intervention,
==========================================
Hmmmmmm,……..yups!


The roughly 300 emails from Mrs. Clinton’s private account that were turned over last month to a House committee investigating the attack

showed the secretary and her aides

closely monitoring the fallout from the tragedy,

which threatened to damage her image

and reflect poorly on the State Department.

They provided no evidence that Mrs. Clinton, as the most incendiary Republican attacks have suggested,

issued a “stand down” order to halt American forces responding to the violence in Benghazi, or took part in a broad cover-up of the administration’s response, according to senior American officials.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/23/us/politics/in-clinton-emails-on-benghazi-a-rare-glimpse-at-her-concerns.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

canopfor on March 23, 2015 at 9:44 AM

canopfor on June 9, 2015 at 10:34 PM

When these stories are written in the summer of 2016 instead of 2015 only then is there hope. Being written now so as to save face as “journalist”. This will all become “old news” by then.

Carnac on June 9, 2015 at 10:35 PM

TED CRUZ 2016

Realdemocrat1 on June 9, 2015 at 10:35 PM

She’s known as “that Benghazi lying whore”. I won’t name the source.

Schadenfreude on June 9, 2015 at 11:30 PM

“We came, we saw, he died”, Hillary.

albill on June 10, 2015 at 7:52 AM

Oh, you said “Libya.”

Never mind.

pain train on June 10, 2015 at 8:47 AM