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Defense Secretary: No National Interests In Libya. Hillary Clinton: Yeah, But Libya Is The Same As 9/11

I don’t watch the Sunday talk shows because rarely is anything of substance discussed or revealed on them. I suppose fifteen years ago they set the tone for the upcoming week’s media coverage, but today they are a superfluous exercise that has little value beyond providing a subsidy to the hair spray industry.

Sometimes, though, an interview comes along that is so disastrous that it has to be commented upon. Today’s joint appearance on Meet the Press by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was just one of those occurrences.

From today’s edition of Meet The Press:

MR. GREGORY:Secretary Gates, Is Libya in our vital interest as a country?

MR. GATES: No, I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the U.S., but we clearly have interests there, and it’s a part of the region which is a vital interest for the U.S.

then Hillary jumps in blubbering

SEC’Y CLINTON:Well, but, but, but then it wouldn’t be fair as to what Bob just said. I mean, did Libya attack us? No. They did not attack us. Do they have a very critical role in this region and do they neighbor two countries — you just mentioned one, Egypt , the other Tunisia — that are going through these extraordinary transformations and cannot afford to be destabilized by conflict on their borders? Yes.

There you have our policy in a nutshell.

This is sort of extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a SecDef admit we’ve started killing people, even benighted foreigners, without some kind of vital US interest at stake. I’d actually go farther than Gates. I don’t think we even have a tangential interest in Libya. Contra Clinton, what we’ve done in the past week has done more damage to regional stability than anything Qaddafi has undertaken since 1990.

But wait, there’s more.

At first blush I decided to blog what everyone else had blogged, to wit, the Gates admission. But this statement by Clinton followed.

You know, we asked our allies, our NATO allies, to go into Afghanistan with us 10 years ago. They have been there, and a lot of them have been there despite the fact they were not attacked. The attack came on us as we all tragically remember. [Emphasis mine] They stuck with us. When it comes to Libya , we started hearing from the UKFranceItaly , other of our NATO allies. This was in their vital national interestThe UK and France were the ones who went to the Security Council and said, “We have to act because otherwise we’re seeing a really violent upheaval with a man who has a history of unpredictable violent acts right on our doorstep.” So, you know, let, let’s be fair here. They didn’t attack us, but what they were doing and Gadhafi ‘s history and the potential for the disruption and instability was very much in our interests, as Bob said , and seen by our European friends and our Arab partners as very vital to their interests.

This is little short of stunning. Our alleged Secretary of State comparing the situation in Libya to the 9/11 attacks. Our allies went with us to Afghanistan because of Article 5 of the NATO Charter was invoked by the NATO membership in the aftermath of 9/11. No such attack was carried out upon a NATO member by Libya. Beyond that, our NATO allies have hardly carried the brunt of the fight in Afghanistan. It is not for nothing that ISAF is said to stand for “I Saw Americans Fight.” If we were going along with Britain, France, and Italy to help them protect their national interests we should have limited our role to providing logistics — such as aerial refueling, intelligence and command-and-control support, not on the leading edge of the attack.

But going back to the main point, does our Secretary of State really think what happened in Libya is even vaguely comparable to what happened on 9/11? Or is she simply spinning a typically Clintonian lie to try to divert attention from the fecklessness of this administration? Is she a knave or a poltroon?

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