Hillary’s War

What’s happening in Libya today is a crime: murder, rape, looting, chaos, a war of all against all. The perpetrator, the one key person who made all this possible, is a well known personage in American politics, a former Secretary of State and the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

What Hillary Clinton did to Libya is a crime on a scale rivaled only by the crimes of the Bush administration in Iraq – and there is a definite parallel in the methodology of the criminals.

Libya has been pretty much off the public’s radar screen ever since the US intervention that led to Muammar Qaddafi’s downfall – and the ugly aftermath in which the US ambassador was murdered by the very people Washington was intent on "liberating." Now the aftermath is getting even uglier.

The country is imploding, with two rival governments claiming suzerainty, but describing Libya’s situation as a state of "civil war" is a bit of an understatement. If ever there was such an entity as a "failed state" – that is, a state that has simply collapsed, and is dragging the rest of society down along with it – then Libya fits the definition to a tee. If we liken a society to the human body, then we can say Libya’s immune system is down, allowing a deadly infection to invade and take root – in this case, the "Islamic State," or "caliphate," known as ISIS, which first reared its head in Syria and is now spreading into Libya.

Last week ISIS gunmen stormed Tripoli’s five-star Corinithia Hotel and opened fire at everyone in sight: ten people were killed, five of them foreigners, including one American. A communiqué from the "Tripoli province" of ISIS took responsibility for the attack, which they said was in retaliation for the death of captured Al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Liby, who died of liver cancer in a US hospital after being captured by US Special Forces.

Both Libya and Syria have been test cases in the experimental laboratory of America’s "regime-change" mad scientists – and both have given birth to Islamist Frankenstein monsters, turning on their creators with a vengeance.

But who created them? Who are the Dr. Frankensteins who brought these monsters to life?

The administration of George W. Bush lied us into war in Iraq, ignoring the warnings of war critics who presciently predicted the dissolution of the Iraqi state and the chaos we see there today. America’s alliance with "moderate" Sunni Islamists in Anbar province, credited with supposedly driving out Al Qaeda during the much-vaunted "surge," armed and trained the ISIS-led fanatics who have conquered that same region today. And yet while Team Bush can fairly be given some of the blame – by setting the general context of the disaster – the Obama administration is hardly innocent.

Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, took up a longstanding goal of the previous administration in pushing for a regime change campaign aimed at Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad: together with General David Petraeus, former CIA chief, she argued for arming the Syrian rebels, in concert with John Kerry and Republican allies like Sen. John McCain. This was part of a general strategy taken up during her tenure at Foggy Bottom, which sought to get ahead of the so-called Arab Spring and ally the US with "moderate" Islamists. The old secular-socialist despots, such as Assad and Libya’s Qaddafi, were finished, went the theory, and so the US should ally itself with this Wave of the Future so as not to be caught flatfooted by the rush of events.

In Libya, this meant backing a motley collection of Islamist radicals with, at most, a few degrees of separation from al-Qaeda. This move was championed by Secretary Clinton, along with national security advisor Susan Rice and Samantha Power, then Special Assistant to the President for Human Rights – but not without pushback from the Pentagon.

The generals didn’t want to get involved in what they viewed as a dubious adventure with unpredictable results. Who were these rebels we were supporting? The whole operation was "intelligence-lite," as a recent series of articles in the Washington Times puts it. The Times reports a full-scale Pentagon effort to avert US intervention:

"Top Pentagon officials and a senior Democrat in Congress so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.

"The tapes, reviewed by The Washington Times and authenticated by the participants, chronicle U.S. officials’ unfiltered conversations with Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s son and a top Libyan leader, including criticisms that Mrs. Clinton had developed tunnel vision and led the U.S. into an unnecessary war without adequately weighing the intelligence community’s concerns."

Just as neoconservatives in key positions in the Bush administration manipulated the intelligence in order to shape the debate over the Iraq war, deceiving Congress and the American people, so the Hillaryites in the Obama administration did the same in the brief debate over the Libyan intervention. As the Times relates:

“‘You should see these internal State Department reports that are produced in the State Department that go out to the Congress. They’re just full of stupid, stupid facts,’ an American intermediary specifically dispatched by the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Gadhafi regime in July 2011, saying the State Department was controlling what intelligence would be reported to U.S. officials."

Secretary Clinton, National Security Advisor Rice, and "humanitarian interventionist" Power argued that Qaddafi’s speech in which he called Libyan rebels "rats" toward whom he would show "no mercy" indicated a "genocide" was imminent in the eastern city of Benghazi. The media blindly accepted this assertion, as is their wont when it comes to government claims, but as the Times reports:

"[D]efense intelligence officials could not corroborate those concerns and in fact assessed that Gadhafi was unlikely to risk world outrage by inflicting mass casualties, officials told The Times. As a result, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly opposed Mrs. Clinton’s recommendation to use force."

The generals feared they were being handed yet another foreign policy hot potato by the politicians, and in this they were indubitably correct: the Times says Hillary "repeatedly dismissed the warnings offered by career military and intelligence officials" – and prevented any of those warnings from reaching the President or members of Congress. Readers with long memories will recall similar suppressed (albeit leaked) warnings from dissident members of the intelligence community as George W. Bush and his neocon-controlled national security bureaucracy marched us to war in Iraq. The intelligence, they warned, was bogus; there were no "weapons of mass destruction," and the "evidence" for their existence was ginned up out of whole cloth.

Surreptitious recordings of a US agent on assignment for the Pentagon reveal the President referring to the Libyan adventure as "all Secretary Clinton’s matter" – in effect washing his hands of it. According to the tapes, the Pentagon’s man in Libya told a top Libyan official – who was trying to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis – that Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., a top aide to Adm. Mullen, "does not trust the reports that are coming out of the State Department and CIA, but there’s nothing he can do about it." At one point, the Pentagon liaison tells his Libyan contacts "I can tell you that the President is not getting accurate information."

Sound familiar?

As in the case of the Iraq war, intelligence made public was cherry-picked in order to support a preordained conclusion, and the facts didn’t matter all that much anyway. The Times cites a senior Pentagon official who says: "The decision to invade [Libya] had already been made, so everything coming out of the State Department at that time was to reinforce that decision.” The paper also quotes a senior intelligence official familiar with the administration’s internal deliberations as saying: “Neither the intervention decision nor the regime change decision was an intelligence-heavy decision. People weren’t on the edge of their seats, intelligence wasn’t driving the decision one way or another."

Facts? Who needs them?

Hillary was determined to have her war, and not even the efforts by the Qaddafi family to effectively surrender were going to stop her:

"On the day the U.N. resolution was passed, Mrs. Clinton ordered a general within the Pentagon to refuse to take a call with Gadhafi’s son Seif and other high-level members within the regime, to help negotiate a resolution, the secret recordings reveal. A day later, on March 18, Gadhafi called for a cease-fire, another action the administration dismissed."

But the anti-interventionist generals in the Pentagon didn’t give up even then. The Times reveals that General Carter Ham, who headed up the US African Command (Africom), tried to negotiate a 72-hour ceasefire with the Libyan regime. The possibility presented itself through the person of retired Navy Rear Admiral Charles Kubic, who was a business representative in Libya: Kubic says he was approached by top Libyan officials who were ready to negotiate a truce. Kubic relayed the proposal to Lt. Col. Brian Linvill, who was Africom’s Libya specialist, who informed Gen. Ham. The Africom chief agreed it was a good idea. According to Kubic:

“The Libyans would stop all combat operations and withdraw all military forces to the outskirts of the cities and assume a defensive posture. Then to insure the credibility with the international community, the Libyans would accept recipients from the African Union to make sure the truce was honored.

“[Gadhafi] came back and said he was willing to step down and permit a transition government, but he had two conditions. First was to insure there was a military force left over after he left Libya capable to go after al Qaeda. Secondly, he wanted to have the sanctions against him and his family and those loyal to him lifted and free passage. At that point in time, everybody thought that was reasonable.”

The problem was that reasonableness had nothing to do with it: Obama having handed her the authority, Hillary was on her dry run as commander-in-chief and she wasn’t about to let the Pentagon stand in her way. She ordered Ham to "stand down two days after the negotiations began," reports the Times. Kubic says:

"If their goal was to get Gadhafi out of power, then why not give a 72-hour truce a try? It wasn’t enough to get him out of power; they wanted him dead."

They got what they wanted. They also got a failed state that has become a terrorist haven – and a dead US ambassador, along with several other Americans murdered in the same Benghazi attack. All under Secretary Clinton’s watch.

Against the available intelligence, which proffered no evidence of an "imminent genocide," Hillary took her cues from Donald Rumsfeld, whose infamous disquisition on "unknown unknowns" represented the merger of foreign policy and speculative fiction. Citing Rwanda and the early stages of the Balkan conflicts, Clinton averred that inaction would be the equivalent of standing by while a "humanitarian disaster" unfolded. Evidence to the contrary was therefore not admissible because, after all, it might happen.

Even as intelligence and military officials were warning that the aftermath of NATO’s Libyan campaign would be highly problematic, Secretary Clinton ignored them and instead pursued her politically-driven agenda – at a cost of thousands of lives, and a terrorist implantation in Libya.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) put it well:

"I think there was a rush headlong toward war in Libya and [the State Department and the administration] weren’t listening to anyone saying anything otherwise, including the Defense Department and intelligence communities, who were saying, ‘Hold on a minute. This may not be a good idea.’

"Hillary’s judgment has to be questioned. Her eagerness for war in Libya should preclude her from being considered the next commander in chief."

Amen, brother!


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I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].