Hillary Clinton has foreign policy experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s good

Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy experience supposedly makes her a superior presidential candidate to her opponent Bernie Sanders in the 2016 race for the Democratic nomination. Commentators note that Clinton has increasingly used her “foreign policy and national security [experience] as a weapon against” her competitor.

Yet the actual content of this foreign policy experience is rarely mentioned. We are simply told it exists — that by having held the position of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is prepared to lead the free world. We are seldom told, explicitly, what exactly Clinton did as Secretary of State that demonstrates her competency in international affairs.

To be clear, Republican opponents have done their best to politicize Hillary’s foreign policy failures — though their efforts have often fallen comically flat. The 2015 “investigation” into Clinton’s alleged, though vaguely-articulated, wrongdoing in the Benghazi attacks turned up exactly nothing, and Democrats and progressives were quick to point to how absurd the whole media circus surrounding the issue was — in both the 2012 and 2016 election cycles.

Yet the liberal defense of Hillary has obscured the significantly more disturbing moral questions surrounding the U.S.’s intervention in Libya in the first place. By framing Benghazi as a “partisan witch hunt aimed at hurting the 2016 White House contender,” liberals totally ignore the fact that — regardless as to whether Hillary is responsible for the deaths of four Americans — she is definitely responsible for the deaths of countless Libyan civilians.

The war in Libya is, for all intents and purposes, a good rubric for everything paradoxical and absurd about American “interventionism”: a war conducted for mysterious reasons, with seemingly little forethought for what the consequences would be, which resulted in more chaos and death than would have resulted had the U.S. simply left everything alone. Discounting the pat “murderous dictator” line that is universally deployed in these situations, actual motivations for the intervention range from suspicions that Muammar el-Qaddafi planned to nationalize Libyan oil supplies, to the notion that he planned to transition the country’s currency system to something outside the bounds of U.S. control.

Hillary Clinton, via Brett Weinstein / Flickr

Hillary Clinton, via Brett Weinstein / Flickr

But though the reasoning behind the conflict is murky, what is readily apparent is Clinton’s involvement. Newly released emails from her classified cache reveal the presidential candidate’s extensive role in the Libyan conflict, or what has been dubbed “Hillary’s war.” Reports suggest that the Pentagon, the Obama administration and other U.S. agencies had serious doubts about the necessity of the intervention, while Hillary had “developed tunnel vision” and wanted America to help forcibly install a Western liberal democracy in the country.

Her vision won out in Washington.

In March of 2011, NATO descended upon the tiny African country and let loose a veritable blitzkrieg of airstrikes against its military units. The intervention resulted in the deaths of an estimated 72 civilians — including many children. Additionally, hundreds of civilians were killed by the rebels that America pitted against Qaddafi’s regime.

Following Qaddafi’s death, with the war officially “won” within less than eight months of the initial bombings, the fallout from the U.S.’s intervention has been predictably drawn-out and problematic. Libya is still qualitatively worse off than it was before 2011: Centralized government has largely collapsed; roving bands of militias and racketeers imprison, brutalize and execute people en masse, then burn villages to the ground. ISIS, the Frankenstein that emerged from the U.S.’s intervention in Iraq, has entered the country and set up shop. 

Feminist activist Medea Benjamin has given a good summation of the contrast between pre and post-intervention Libya:

Before Libya’s “liberation” by Western forces in the form of NATO, it was the richest country in Africa. Libyans had free healthcare and education. Today Libyans have almost no functioning public services, with daily blackouts and water shortages…[and Libya] is considered a “failed state” run by extremist militias and two opposing governments vying for power.

Before Western intervention, Libya was a stable, albeit dictatorial nation — one which had high levels of unemployment, but which provided free education and healthcare to its citizens. Libya also reportedly had “the lowest infant mortality and the highest life expectancy in all of Africa” and also saw women’s rights lurch forward by leaps and bounds. According to the New York Times, “[Qaddafi] expanded women’s education, sharply reduced illiteracy among women, enabled women to enter new professions, and conspicuously included uniformed women in both the army and the police.”

Now, after the country has split “into a patchwork of city-states dominated by various regional, ideological or criminal armed” factions, the fates of women are being left to the various “strict religious or extremist groups,” many of which adhere to traditionalist, deeply patriarchal views of women that treat them as second class citizens. The brutal murder of activist Salwa Bugaighis in the spring of 2014 has been hailed by many as symbolic of the larger backslides for women across the country.

Clearly lionizing a dictator is not the goal here. But pointing out the difference between the stable society that Qaddafi crafted and the chaotic, Hobbesian realities that now plague Libyans is an important distinction to make if we’re going to weigh the worth of this “intervention.”

Clinton has defended her actions in Libya using the same jingoistic phraseologies that are always used when attempting to justify American foreign policy debacles: She reminds us that Qaddafi was a “murderous dictator” who had “American blood on his hands,” and the intervention eventually lead to Libya’s first “free election.” As Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic notes, these ridiculous, decontextualized defenses offer little in the way of rational justification or explanation. To the contrary, “A strong case can be made that the [Libyan] war made Americans less safe.”

Americans voting for Hillary over Sanders based on “foreign policy experience” have to admit that they’re committing to a leader who has all the tell-tale signs of being a hawk. Her self-proclaimed tutelage by Henry Kissinger — a key architect of some of the Vietnam War’s worst carnage (as well as a firm believer in the virtues of U.S. imperialism) — is unsettling at best, and frightening at worst.

At the end of the day, Clinton’s foreign policy credentials are the kind of doublethink that is a serious blind spot for liberals: what they actively decried in Bush, they’ve tacitly accepted from Obama, and are apt to support under Hillary. It’s not as if the bombings and invasions have drastically changed since 2007; it’s merely the parties doing the bombings and invasions. If progressives are going to continue to tolerate these brands of unilateral, interminable “intervention” from Democratic presidents, they have no right to complain when the next conservative does it. There’s every reason to be concerned, not enthused, about the kind of foreign policy “experience” that Clinton will bring to the world stage if elected president.

Lucas Ropek is a journalist based in Massachusetts. He worked for the Working Families Party in NYC on issues of income inequality and worker rights. His interests include U.S. foreign policy, pop-culture, and freedom fries.

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51 Responses to “Hillary Clinton has foreign policy experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s good”

  1. Barbara says:

    Not quite sure why Clinton gets the rap here; she was merely Secretary of State. And one of the guys who was actually responsible for the operation also believes that ‘intervening in Libya had been “the right thing to do”.” Not to mention that it was a NATO operation – which means that a lot of other people agreed. Is Clinton REALLY that powerful, do you think?

    Nor is it ever mentioned, somehow, that a civil war had already broken out in the country.


    “US President Barack Obama has said failing to prepare for the aftermath of the ousting of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi was the worst mistake of his presidency.

    Mr Obama was answering a series of questions on the highs and lows of his time in office on Fox News.

    He said, however, that intervening in Libya had been “the right thing to do”.

    The US and other countries carried out strikes designed to protect civilians during the 2011 uprising.

    But after the former Libyan leader was killed, Libya plunged into chaos with militias taking over and two rival parliaments and governments forming.”

  2. Jackanapes11 says:

    I’m not really sure any of that excuses destroying a country for no good reason, but okay.

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  4. Barbara says:

    There’s also this:


    ‘Because of her worldwide popularity and tireless travel—she set a new record for a secretary of state by visiting 112 countries—Clinton helped undo the damage that the habitual unilateralism of the George W. Bush administration had done to the global image of the United States. As Clinton put it to me in a 2010 interview, “My big-picture commitment is to restore American leadership, and I think that’s about as big a job as you can get. And everything I’ve done is in furtherance of that.”


    Indeed, her most lasting legacy will likely be the way that she thrust soft diplomacy to the forefront of U.S. foreign policy. By speaking out about Internet freedom, women’s rights, public health, and economic issues everywhere she went, Clinton sought to transcend traditional government-to-government contacts. She set out to create—or at least dramatically expand in scope—a new kind of people-to-people diplomacy, one designed to extend Washington’s influence in an Internet-driven world in which popular uprisings, such as the Arab Spring, could quickly uproot the traditional relationships between governments.


    Clinton then took her message directly to the people in the countries she visited. She held regular town-hall meetings abroad, speaking not just to the international press but also to local citizens and local media, an approach that may have helped ease some anti-Americanism in Islamic countries (although few polls show it yet). “I think that really is new,” her former policy-planning chief, the Princeton scholar Anne-Marie Slaughter, told me in a recent interview. “She’s the one who kept saying, ‘You’ve got to have government-to-government, government-to-people, and people-to-people contacts.’ She’s been very clear that the people of different countries are not just the object of policies; they are active agents of change and evolution. And, above all, of problem solving.”’



    And this:


    “Clinton’s leadership and active advocacy for women’s issues, on the other hand, is a common thread that is present throughout her time in public life. While at the State Department, she established the first federal Office of Global Women’s Issues to ensure that gender equality is a cornerstone of international-relations practices, including through partnerships with local entrepreneurship programs across Africa and Southeast Asia aimed at helping women’s businesses succeed as well as plans to engage women in diplomacy and community-building in places like Burma and Afghanistan. Her efforts to support women’s rights domestically and globally are no ancillary concern: They are intrinsically tied to the core of the work she does.”

    That’s pretty good stuff right there, and it’s unfortunate that this kind of work gets so little attention…..

  5. Ken says:

    This is not trolling, this is advancing a reasoned and humorous (former senator from walmart!) point of view while citing sources.

  6. Skye Winspur says:

    Criticizing Clinton from a leftist non-interventionist point of view is not “giving ammunition” to the GOP. Maybe confetti. Cruz’s ammunition against Clinton is her perceived character failings, greased by misogyny. He is going to call her a Marxist regardless of how many times she agrees with Henry Kissinger or advocates getting “tougher on Islamic terrorism.”

  7. Skye Winspur says:

    Good piece. I look at countries like Zimbabwe, where a murderous dictator has been in power for over 30 years, and do I hear a peep of concern from the “interventionist liberals”? It’s hard to blame people in the Arab world for feeling like the US and allies are targeting them for punishment, and for believing rumors about an oil grab.

  8. Moderator4 says:

    MattM, stop the ad hominem attacks on Bill_Perdue. You are welcome to disagree with him, but you are not welcome to fling insults.
    This is your first warning.

  9. Bill_Perdue says:

    ” While Hillary Clinton has demurred over her position on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, her campaign has partnered with a pro-TPP law and lobby firm to raise money. … Clinton’s campaign held a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday with the political action committee of a law firm called McGuireWoods. Lobby registration documents reveal that a subsidiary of the group lobbies on behalf of Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest producer of pork, to pass both the TPP and “fast track”—a special presidential mandate that nearly eliminates Congress’ role in crafting trade legislation. Despite mounting pressure to take a position, Clinton has only provided non-commital answers regarding her stance on both TPP and TPA. http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/hillary_clinton_fundraises_with_pro-tpp_law_firm_20150619

  10. Bill_Perdue says:

    I’m replying to personal atytacks, but I fixed it. See above.

  11. MattM says:

    Who cares what you think? Again, you’re not voting for either Sanders or Clinton. Unless you have a practical solution, shut up. You’re so grating and irrelevant.

  12. Moderator4 says:

    Bill_Perdue, please stop repeating yourself.

  13. heimaey says:

    Yeah dillusional supporters too.

  14. Bill_Perdue says:

    Personal attacks are not valid.

    HRH HRC, formerly the Senator from Walmart, is a rabid warmonger, a racist and a union buster.

    ”At Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate, one of the most heated exchanges concerned an unlikely topic: Henry Kissinger. … “I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger. …So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger,” Sanders roared.

    … ”Clinton did not mention … that her bond with Kissinger was personal as well as professional, as she and her husband have for years regularly spent their winter holidays with Kissinger and his wife, Nancy, at the beachfront villa of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who died in 2014, and his wife, Annette, in the Dominican Republic. … It was odd that the Clintons, locked in a fierce fight to win Democratic votes, would name-check a fellow who for decades has been criticized—and even derided as a war criminal—by liberals. … Clinton wrote a fawning review of Kissinger’s latest book and observed, “America, he reminds us, succeeds by standing up for our values, not shirking them, and leads by engaging peoples and societies, the sources of legitimacy, not governments alone.” In that article, she called Kissinger, who had been a practitioner of a bloody foreign-policy realpolitik, “surprisingly idealistic.” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/02/hillary-clinton-kissinger-vacation-dominican-republic-de-la-renta

  15. dcinsider says:

    Good. I’m glad we were able to come to an understanding :)

  16. MattM says:

    Trolls like Bill Perdue (who hates Obama, Sanders, Clinton and EVERY OTHER CANDIDATE because they don’t adhere to his very strict definition of Socialist) only care about parroting the same talking points enough to where people believe it. And it’s all out of spite.


    an Obot (according to ol’ Bill Perdue)

  17. heimaey says:

    This is great – Hillary lies, cheats, bombs, does nothing to end financial corruption and yet Sanders supporters are irrational and delusional. OK.

  18. dcinsider says:

    No, she should be criticized by anyone who wants to do so. My point is simply that tearing her down does not advance a progressive agenda. It only helps to give the GOP additional ammunition in the fall.

    Bernie folks can cling to their impossible campaign all they want, as is their right, but they have become delusional, and slightly irrational, in their allegiance to him.

  19. heimaey says:

    So she shouldn’t be criticisized because she’s our only hope? Sorry but if she wins we have to push her to be more reasonable.

    I’m not accepting Bernie as the loser of this race until he concedes which will likely be in June so enjoy the next couple of months wishing we’d go away?

  20. dcinsider says:

    And your point is . . . .?

    I mean are we supposed to support the Republican nominee instead?

    Bernie Sanders is NOT going to win the nomination. Hillary will be the nominee unless she drops dead tomorrow. So, while you certainly can tear her apart at will, what other choice do you have? Elect a Republican? Donald Trump? Ted Cruz?

    Hillary is a big girl and take any criticism thrown her way, but to what end?

    I really think it’s time that Bernie’s people put on their big girl panties and accept that Hillary is the nominee. There are some very serious issues out there, and some very scary things coming from the GOP.

    Focus people.

  21. kladinvt says:

    HillaryInc is an interventionist, from her vote to attack Iraq, to her push for the bombing and destruction of Libya making it another failed African state, to her failed push to get Obama to send ground troops into Syria. Voting for her, is a vote for at least another war.

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  23. B00Z says:

    It seems every four years, the field of choices gets worse. My vote goes to Bernie but I have misgivings at that.

  24. Phil in FLL says:

    Yes, I forgot to mention that European nations were among those strongly advocating for intervention for the reason you mention.

  25. Don Chandler says:

    Europe was also afraid of a huge refugee issue as a result of the civil war–of course, Libya was not stable during Gaddafi and arab spring was a major contribution to instability.

  26. heimaey says:

    I don’t think any major network would report on Sanders, yet he’d be the most popular.

  27. Max_1 says:

    Someone threw an egg at Trump?
    Silly me, if they did, CNN would be all over it while FOXNews(R) would spin it as Hillary’s fault while MSNBC would be blaming it on Sanders… Sad, but true.

  28. Bill_Perdue says:

    The lies about Libya are an example of the same BS regarding ‘WMD’s promoted by the Clintons and copied by GW Bush. Liars like the Clintons will always find defenders on the right.



    A vote for Trump or HRH HRC means more wars, more nations destroyed and evermore refugees. Hillary “…Clinton made it clear that if she’s elected in 2016, she’s going to drag the country straight to war. Invoking the same imagery as her ideological twin, George W. Bush, Clinton fulminated for more than an hour and a half on Syria, war, terrorism, war, no-fly zones, war, radical jihadism, war, and “metastasizing threats”, whatever the heck those are. Oh, and did I mention war?

    Seriously, while regretful Democrats can claim that they never thought Obama would turn out to be the disappointment he has been, the same can’t be said about Clinton. Madame Secretary has a long pedigree and the bold print on the warning label is easy to read. There’s simply no excuse for anyone to vote for a proven commodity like Hillary and then complain at some later date… She voted for Iraq, she supported the Libya fiasco, and now she’s gearing up for Syria. Her bloodthirsty foreign policy is just slightly to the left of John McCain and his looneybin sidekick, Lindsey Graham. Simply put: A vote for Clinton is a vote more-of-the-same death and destruction spread willy-nilly across the planet in the endless pursuit of imperial domination. It’s that simple.” http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/11/20/hillarys-war-whoop/

  29. heimaey says:

    Also to be fair, wherever we go and interfere we tend to destabilize and make things worse. In the Middle East this backfires on us as we create more terrorists and put strains on Europe and other parts of the ME as refugees, homeless, displaced, etc. create not only a human toll but an economic one throughout the region. In South America we’re generally spared the terrorism but it works its way in through other means (see Cuba for 50+ years now) and the drug trade.

  30. Bill_Perdue says:

    HRH HRC is a warmonger and is guilty of aiding and abetting mass murder and crimes against humanity by GW Bush and B Obama. She played Ribbentrop, trying to justify Obama’s wars of aggression in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Bahrain, Syria, Iraq (again), Pakistan and Afghanistan, where Obama’s wars are a continuance of Bushes invasions and incursions.

    Democrats and Republicans have no problem working together to kill civilians to steal or control oil and grab land for US bases. They all support, without question, the zionist colony in Palestine.

    Sanders, for all his claims to be a peace candidate, repeatedly voted for war budgets and a booster of the F35 fighter program. BS voted for war funding and that makes him a supporter US wars of aggression.

    • Nov. 21, 2013 S 1197 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 Yea

    • Sept. 21, 2010 S 3454 2010-2011 Defense Authorizations Yea

    • Oct. 22, 2009 HR 2647 2009-2010 Defense Appropriations Conference Report Adopted Yea

    • July 10, 2008 Nomination of General Petraeus as Military Leader of the Middle East – Yea

    • Oct. 1, 2007 HR 1585 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 Yea

    • June 20, 2006 HR 5631 Defense Department FY2007 Appropriations Bill Yea



    and http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2015/05/28/bernie-sanders-the-ron-paul-of-the-left/



  31. trinu says:

    Let’s not forget that her foreign policy experience also includes the TPP.

  32. Jackanapes11 says:

    The comparison to Sanders is not really viable since he wasn’t the Secretary of State that pushed for the intervention. But this argument has nothing to do with Sanders’s culpability and everything to do with why Hillary’s decisions were flawed.

  33. Phil in FLL says:

    As you can see from my reply just above, your criticism applies not just to Hillary as Secretary of State, but also to Bernie as the senator from Vermont.

  34. Jackanapes11 says:

    Of course you’re obliged to rationalize the outcome. If you’re going to knock the legs out from under a country under the guise of “democratizing” it, you’re expected to foresee the outcome and take responsibility for it–especially if you’ve already destabilized a country within the same decade and had a similar outcome.

  35. Phil in FLL says:

    No one is obliged to rationalize the outcomes in (A) unless they could foresee the future. Your accusation that the Obama administration was not able to foresee the future is unreasonable. Items (B) and (C) lean toward conspiracy theory, which over the past seven years has always had a distinctly Republican flavor. Bernie Sanders’ opinion in this matter is of consequence, since he is an actual choice this year. Bernie made a very general comment about Hillary’s foreign policy during a debate, and here is Hillary’s response to Bernie (concerning Libya):

    “With all due respect, senator, you voted for regime change with respect to Libya. You joined the Senate in voting to get rid of Gaddafi, and you asked that there be a Security Council validation of that with a resolution.”

    As I said, Bernie’s opinion is of consequence, and I consider what he has to say very seriously. Not only that, I will be happy to vote for him in the general election. Would I consider voting for the tinfoil-hat conspiracy nuts on the Republican ticket or perhaps consider not voting? In a word, no.

  36. Jackanapes11 says:

    Again, you have no refutation of the points that A) intervening has actually lead to more death and ongoing destruction than had the U.S. left Gaddafi in place (the Libyan Civil War that it was of paramount importance to disrupt in 2011 has been replaced by another Libyan Civil War between four warring factions; women’s rights are abjectly worse in all of Libya now; thousands of people are dead and continue to die, and Libya is looking more and more like a failed state; ISIS has a solid base in the country (the UN estimates nearly 100,000 people have been displaced as a result)–if you have any way to rationalize these outcomes, I’d love to hear it), or B) that you can’t really trust the rationale put forward by the Obama administration since clearly they’re comfortable with lying about all kinds of things, and C) why would random congressmen have access to any useful information if you can’t trust the administration that they rely on for information to even include them in the decision-making process to intervene (which they did not)?

  37. Phil in FLL says:

    OK, I’ll change the wording for you. I originally said “Democratic/Republican congressmen who were knowledgeable about the circumstances.” I’ll change that to “anyone in Congress who has any shred of evidence or information, even second-hand, of oil facilities being the primary goal.”

    International accusations against Gaddafi include the siege of Misrata, which was the third largest city in Libya after Tripoli and Benghazi. They accuse Gaddafi forces of targeting hospitals and civilian areas. They also accuse him of using internationally outlawed cluster bombs of Spanish production as ammunition. I don’t know whether Gaddafi would have done the same throughout eastern Libya, but I don’t think anyone else knows that either.

  38. Jackanapes11 says:

    Well, you did say “the opinions of either people in the Obama administration” or “knowledgable” congressmen, but the notion that random congressmen would be more informed than people within the administration doesn’t really hold a lot of water.

  39. Phil in FLL says:

    I didn’t say just the Obama administration. I said anyone in either the executive or legislative branch of the federal government… anyone at all. Unless, of course, there’s a vast conspiracy which negates the statements of everyone in either the executive or legislative branch of the federal government. That would be a hard sell to voters this year.

  40. Jackanapes11 says:

    The idea that you are willing to accept as gospel anything that comes from “knowledgeable” people in the Obama cabinet is sorta ridiculous, considering the number of times Obama has mislead and lied to the American public about giant things, Orwellian-NSA-surveillance-on-everybody-all-the-time being just one.


  41. Webster says:

    “On Foreign Policy, Bernie Sanders Is the Democrat and Hillary Clinton Is a Republican”

    From HuffPo:

    “Hillary Clinton is a hawkish former Secretary of State more aligned with the GOP’s view of foreign policy than most Democrats. This sentiment isn’t controversial; even conservative historians agree that Clinton’s foreign policy will be ‘neocon.’

    “A New York Times article titled ‘Events in Iraq Open Door for Interventionist Revival, Historian Says’ explains that interventionists ‘are pouring their hopes’ in a potential Hillary Clinton presidency.

    “In 2016, only one Democratic candidate is a real Democrat on foreign policy. The other has interventionists ‘pouring their hopes’ into her presidency. Don’t complain about Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld if you make the wrong choice in 2016.”


  42. Phil in FLL says:

    “Several insiders questioning whether oil was more of a concern than civilians…”

    I am more than willing to listen to the opinions of either people in the Obama administration or Democratic/Republican congressmen who were knowledgeable about the circumstances. I’m willing to change my mind, depending on what statements they might make in the future, and I’m sure the Libyan intervention will be a campaign topic should Hillary be the nominee.

    Aside from comments that Washington D.C. insiders might make about oil, I don’t think that would negate the overwhelming likelihood that Gaddafi would have mass murdered hundreds of thousands (if not more) civilians in eastern Libya if the Western intervention and no-fly zone had not taken effect. All of the evidence and documentation at the time pointed to that conclusion. I’m not denying that Daesh hasn’t used events for their own ends, but you still have to weigh that against the likelihood of genocide, which had not occurred since the Bosnian Civil War of the 1990s.

  43. Jackanapes11 says:

    There’s been considerable conversation to support the idea that the U.S. and its NATO allies exaggerated the likelihood of a “massacre” in an effort to justify their intervention. Even more problematic, the massacres that have been occurring on a regular basis since the destabilization of the nation are apparently of no concern to the Western forces who were previously so breathlessly concerned about the fates of Libyan civilians.

    Even taking Western claims on their face (which is probably not a great idea), you have to admit that the results of the intervention are abjectly worse than had Gaddafi remained in power. If you want some hard numbers you can check out any number of sources. Here is one: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/oct/26/libya-war-saving-lives-catastrophic-failure

    With a relevant quote: “while the death toll in Libya when Nato intervened was perhaps around 1,000-2,000 (judging by UN estimates), eight months later it is probably more than ten times that figure. Estimates of the numbers of dead over the last eight months – as Nato leaders vetoed ceasefires and negotiations – range from 10,000 up to 50,000.”

  44. Naja pallida says:

    I don’t know if it’s what Lucas was getting at, but there were, and still are, significant questions as to what the real impetus for the intervention was. Several insiders questioning whether oil was more of a concern than civilians, especially considering the collateral damage involved with bombing for democracy and the stark lack of any kind of political plan for what to do after things stopped exploding. The country still isn’t stable, and civilians are still at risk of being caught in the crossfire between factions, but the coalition has moved on to other things. Now Daesh is taking advantage of the weakness of the internationally recognized Libyan government, and attempting to seize oil regions and ports. Nothing that wasn’t predicted by experts before the bombing started.

  45. nicho says:

    Bonnie Parker had a lot of banking experience. Look where that got her.

  46. Phil in FLL says:

    “…a war conducted for mysterious reasons…the reasoning behind the conflict is murky…”

    The U.S. was part of a coalition that included Canada, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Italy and Greece. The intervention consisted of a no-fly zone to enforce UN Resolution 1973, which stated that the goal of the resolution was “an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute crimes against humanity.” There was intelligence, documentation and ample media reporting that Gaddafi was preparing to commit genocide against the population of eastern Libya, a population which was at that point opposing his regime. The reports and evidence of immanent genocide and “crimes against humanity” were everywhere in the worldwide media (U.S. and foreign). Why are you using the terms “mysterious” and “murky” in your post? The international consensus was that the goal of the intervention was to prevent Gaddafi from committing genocide against a population that had no air protection against massive bombing targeting the population centers of easter Libya.

    “Before Western intervention, Libya was a stable, albeit dictatorial nation…”

    No, it wasn’t. It was in the middle of a catastrophic civil war that was slipping quickly towards genocide. This is documented history.

  47. heimaey says:

    The Panama Papers are somehow lacking American politicans and corporations. There’s likely a reason for this, but if you say it “conspiracy theorist” will be shouted at you. More depressing still is that the protests in Iceland right now are inspiring, but we’re not likely to see them in the US, and if they do occur the media will be turning their cameras elsewhere to get a better focus on Trump.

  48. doug dash says:

    From Dan Savages Slog
    “The Panama Papers will be good for Bernie Sanders and bad for Hillary Clinton. Politically, the former is consistent with the current post-2008 world; the latter, with the one before the crash. Sanders is not a neoliberal; Clinton is. The Panama Papers will certainly contribute details to this distinction.”

    I have no opinion on this but I know you guys like to throw live animals into the snake pit to watch them feed.

  49. beergoggles says:

    I swear the American interpretation of “foreign policy experience” is a willingness to bomb brown people and destabilize their governments while claiming you’re helping them. The more convincing you sound while doing it, the more “experience” you must have. And then every once in a while the curtain slips when you brag about your friendship with Americans very own Hitler…

  50. Ol' Hippy says:

    HRC has been in the same vein as all the other neocon imperialism that’s been a disaster for any country in line to be exploited. Since Obama we now have at least one and most likely two or more failed states. It seems endless wars and military intervention abroad is just the way it is. At home is where the political parties differ. The right has latched onto the crazy Christians, to get votes, and threaten a new wave of anti-civil-rights reforms to go back to before the Roe decision. I haven’t liked US foreign policy since the ‘Nam and it hasn’t changed since, but maybe its time to end the endless aggression and concentrate on domestic actions to help us instead of hurting foreigners.

  51. heimaey says:

    Great blog. I would add that her involment in Latin America has been horrendous as well. She is implict in the ongoing US Imperialism in the region – particularly her role in the Hondoran coup. Here’s a good piece about Berta Caceres who called out Hillary before her recent and untimely death by assasination.


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