Scratch a progressive and you inevitably find an overweening racist.
Hillary Clinton was interviewed by Rachel Maddow on Friday and to the surprise of both of Maddow’s viewers the subject of Libya came up.
MADDOW: I do think that the Republicans on the committee were right yesterday when they highlighted as a policy matter that Libya is in a bad situation…
MADDOW: …since the Libyan civil war, since Khadaffi was toppled and then killed four years ago this week. I can now imagine the toppling of Assad in Syria, whether or not he’s propped up by the Russians, but like in Libya, I cannot imagine what happens after. And it worries me. Is it a good idea to help topple Assad when there isn’t a government in waiting, we don’t have any idea what would happen then?
CLINTON: Well, let me just say a few words about Libya because I think that if we are going to draw some conclusions from that, I’d like to say a few words about it. One of the hallmarks of Khadaffi’s dictatorship is that hollow out all the institutions. But there was a very dedicated core of people who were committed to a democratic path forward, and it’s often overlooked. Libya held elections within a year, less than a year after the fall of Khadaffi. They were free, they were fair, they elected moderates. They tried to form a government. They were making progress and they had very little institutional support to do that. There were a number of efforts made, certainly by our government and others, to help them. It was almost as though they didn’t know what to ask for and how to translate any help into changes on the ground. But there still is a very committed group of people who are trying now to work out the differences. And the differences between the east and the west of the country have been very prominent from the beginning.
Consider that for a moment. We’ll come back to it in due course.
One would think that the way to avoid this humanitarian catastrophe would have been by not uncorking it to begin with. But that was not the Clinton or Obama way. They were anxious to prove that they could overthrow a dictator, analogous to Saddam Hussein, and do it without the use of US forces:
As then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who opposed the U.S. intervention, frustratingly explained to The Daily Beast: “We were playing it by ear.”
And the consequences of that improvisation are still being felt today. The country is an epicenter of the refugee crisis sweeping the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Part of Libya is under the control of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. And the Russians use the U.S.-NATO intervention in Libya to justify their own military incursions in places like Syria.
But to Clinton, Libya was—and still remains—a major achievement. “We came, we saw, he died,” she crowed in October 2011. “Smart power at its best” is how Clinton described it during the most recent Democratic debate.
How did this happen? Because instead of relying upon intelligence she did not want to hear from State Department sources and the US Intelligence Community she used the wishful thinking of that relentless butt-wipe, Sid Blumenthal:
As secretary of state, it was Clinton’s job to ask questions about the state of Libya, both before the intervention and after. She was secretary when the intervention began—and when the U.S. presence in Benghazi ended with a deadly attack. And while she held talks in the early months after Gaddafi’s death, Libya became largely a public afterthought. In the email caches released so far from her personal account, former adviser Sidney Blumenthal repeatedly kept Libya before Clinton, sharing his views of the situation, at the time contradicting the diplomats working for Clinton. Blumenthal, a longtime adviser to both Clinton and President Clinton, was not an expert on the region.
And yet, the day after the attack in Benghazi, Blumenthal drafted an email to Clinton that read like a State Department cable. He said his sources were those that had “direct access to the Libyan Transitional National Council, as well as the highest European Governments, and Western Intelligence and security services.” And those sources said the attack was the result of a protest “inspired by what many devout Libyans viewed as a sacrilegious internet video on the prophet Mohammed originating in America.” It’s a narrative that was quickly disproven.
Another instance of Blumenthal’s analysis going south came in April of 2012. Blumenthal assessed that the Muslim Brotherhood would do well in July elections. Chris Stevens, then the number two diplomat in Libya, disagreed. Blumenthal’s views were passed on to Stevens in an email with the subject line “Latest from HRC contact,” referring to Hillary Rodham Clinton. But Blumenthal was wrong, despite the high-level endorsement. The Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party won 10 percent of the vote.
So to review the bidding. We encouraged a civil war in Libya to overthrow a Gadhafi who was fairly harmless and chastened. Indeed, our intervention was in violation of international law and norms. By Clinton’s own admission we knew there were no civil structures in Libya that existed independent of Gadhafi. Yet we went anyway, based on Sid Blumenthal’s insistence that he knew people who would take charge, despite Defense and the Intelligence Community warning what would happen.
Now we have a seething, effervescing Islamist mess in Libya and Clinton blithely blames the Libyans for the situation:
It was almost as though they didn’t know what to ask for and how to translate any help into changes on the ground.
And she completely ignores her own central role in creating this humanitarian crisis. She is, after all, the smartest woman in the world and they are just pig-ignorant Arabs. Who else could be at fault?