Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hillary The Hawk

As Hillary Clinton rolled to an easy victory in South Carolina last night, NY Times writers Jo Becker and Scott Shane apparently have little time to waste ahead of Super Tuesday pinning the Obama administration's regime change in Libya and its less-than-successful outcome squarely on Hillary's "smart power" doctrine.

BY THE TIME Mahmoud Jibril cleared customs at Le Bourget airport and sped into Paris, the American secretary of state had been waiting for hours. But this was not a meeting Hillary Clinton could cancel. Their encounter could decide whether America was again going to war.

In the throes of the Arab Spring, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was facing a furious revolt by Libyans determined to end his quixotic 42-year rule. The dictator’s forces were approaching Benghazi, the crucible of the rebellion, and threatening a blood bath. France and Britain were urging the United States to join them in a military campaign to halt Colonel Qaddafi’s troops, and now the Arab League, too, was calling for action.

President Obama was deeply wary of another military venture in a Muslim country. Most of his senior advisers were telling him to stay out. Still, he dispatched Mrs. Clinton to sound out Mr. Jibril, a leader of the Libyan opposition. Their late-night meeting on March 14, 2011, would be the first chance for a top American official to get a sense of whom, exactly, the United States was being asked to support.

In her suite at the Westin, she and Mr. Jibril, a political scientist with a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, spoke at length about the fast-moving military situation in Libya. But Mrs. Clinton was clearly also thinking about Iraq, and its hard lessons for American intervention.

Did the opposition’s Transitional National Council really represent the whole of a deeply divided country, or just one region? What if Colonel Qaddafi quit, fled or was killed — did they have a plan for what came next?

“She was asking every question you could imagine,” Mr. Jibril recalled.

Mrs. Clinton was won over. Opposition leaders “said all the right things about supporting democracy and inclusivity and building Libyan institutions, providing some hope that we might be able to pull this off,” said Philip H. Gordon, one of her assistant secretaries. “They gave us what we wanted to hear. And you do want to believe.”

 And then we get into the brutal truth.

Her conviction would be critical in persuading Mr. Obama to join allies in bombing Colonel Qaddafi’s forces. In fact, Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, would later say that in a “51-49” decision, it was Mrs. Clinton’s support that put the ambivalent president over the line.

The consequences would be more far-reaching than anyone imagined, leaving Libya a failed state and a terrorist haven, a place where the direst answers to Mrs. Clinton’s questions have come to pass.

This is the story of how a woman whose Senate vote for the Iraq war may have doomed her first presidential campaign nonetheless doubled down and pushed for military action in another Muslim country. As she once again seeks the White House, campaigning in part on her experience as the nation’s chief diplomat, an examination of the intervention she championed shows her at what was arguably her moment of greatest influence as secretary of state. It is a working portrait rich with evidence of what kind of president she might be, and especially of her expansive approach to the signal foreign-policy conundrum of today: whether, when and how the United States should wield its military power in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

There is a reason I didn't vote for Clinton in 2008, even living in Kentucky where I knew Barack Obama had no electoral chance.  As much as I think Bernie Sanders really doesn't have a grasp of foreign policy issues, and Donald Trump's grasp of them is that of a six-year-old with a shiny red button marked "Blow shit up!", Hillary Clinton has extensive foreign policy experience, and that more than anything else makes me wish for an Obama third term.

I will settle for Sanders or Clinton.  Trump will have started WW III by this time next year.  But yes, let us not forget Hillary is a hawk, and Libya is a mess that we rarely hear about because Syria is so much worse right now.

I'd dare say that the Libya mess made us so hesitant on Syria that we under-reacted to Assad.  If we had not gone after Qaddafi, would Assad still be an issue?  Probably, but it's worth mulling over when you go to the primary polls.

Yes, I would still vote for Hillary or Bernie over any Republican.  But I'm still not sure which one I want, and there are things I like and dislike about both.

It's the timing of the article I question, especially given this.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders in his bid to become President of the United States this morning on "Meet the Press." She also resigned as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Just last month, she said she couldn't take sides due to her position with the DNC.

Gabbard specifically pointed to Sanders' position on military intervention as part of her endorsement reasoning.

"As a veteran, as a soldier, I've seen firsthand the true cost of war. … As we look at our choices as to who our next Commander-in-chief will be is to recognize the necessity to have a Commander-in-chief who has foresight. Who exercises good judgment. Who looks beyond the consequences -- who looks at the consequences of the actions that they are willing to take before they take those actions. So that we don't continue to find ourselves in these failures that have resulted in chaos in the Middle East and so much loss of life," Gabbard said.

So the same time this article drops,  Rep. Gabbard resigns from the DNC to back Bernie over Hillary's hawk positions, both dropping the day after Bernie gets cremated in SC by 45 points.

That's not a coincidence, considering Super Tuesday is in less than 72 hours.  Taken collectively, that bothers me.

We'll see.

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