Bill Clinton: We shouldn't be letting the Libyan rebels twist in the wind

Remember when Barack Obama decided against putting Hillary Clinton on the ticket as his running mate, and overcame his reluctance to tie himself to the Clintons to eventually make her his Secretary of State? This is why:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been cautiously occupying the fence on whether the United States should help establish a no-fly zone over Libya—falling in line with Obama administration policy to build international consensus before deciding what to do.

But the secretary’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, came out strongly Thursday night for the controversial military measure to help the Libyan rebels in their struggle to topple Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

“We have the planes to make an appropriate contribution to this,” the 42nd president told an influential dinner crowd attending Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s Women in the World summit at Manhattan’s Millennium Hotel. “I wouldn’t do it if they hadn’t asked,” Clinton said, referring to anti-Gaddafi rebel leaders who have publicly and repeatedly requested the no-fly zone to stop bombardment from Gaddafi’s air force. “We should do it.”

Clinton, sporting a dark three-piece suit and a bright yellow tie, argued that Gaddafi himself has already internationalized the conflict by hiring foreign mercenaries “at $2,000 a day,” to kill Libyans. “It’s not a fair fight,” the former president said, under questioning by Newsweek and Daily Beast Editor in Chief Tina Brown. “They’re being killed by mercenaries. I think we should support them.”

Clinton goes farther than that in this video from the same conference, however. While saying that he had “sympathy” for the administration’s difficult position, Bill Clinton explicitly criticizes Obama for letting the rebels “twist in the wind like we’re doing,” as the questioner puts it:

Clinton differs from Obama in that he is more of a Wilsonian interventionist, as evidenced in the botched Somalia operation against the warlords in 1993 and the more successful interventions in the Balkans.  Obama still hasn’t quite decided what he is — and it shows.  This also shows why Obama was so reluctant to tie himself to the Clintons, as this puts Obama squarely in the shadow of Clinton, whose foreign policy at least had the virtue of coherence.

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