If you’re a Republican planning to run in 2016, you’re going to be asked about Iraq — and you’re expected to say it was mistake.
While it is legitimate to ask members of the party chiefly responsible for a military venture that cost hundreds of billions of dollars and over 4,000 American lives whether they would do it again, there’s another failed foreign intervention that’s getting conveniently overlooked this election cycle — even though one of its architects is running for president.
That adventure, of course, is the U.S.’s 2011 foray into Libya.
Remember that? You know, it was apart of the Arab Spring and we were coming in to help those scrappy rebels create democracy in North Africa? Yeah … what happened with that?
In case you haven’t noticed, since America helped topple the Gaddafi regime in 2011, the country has become a failed state engulfed in perpetual war and Islamic extremists dominate large portions of the country. While the Obama administration cited humanitarian reasons as the justification for dropping bombs, there are hardly any human rights that are not being violated in Libya today.
Free speech? Same as under Gaddafi. Women’s rights? “Lacking.” Gay rights? Homosexuality is punishable by death. Religious freedom? Libya is now the worst state in North Africa to be a Christian and bans Jews from entering the country. Ethnic tolerance? Tribal warfare has defined the fighting since 2011 and black Africans are frequently singled out for violence. Civil treatment of foreign dignitaries? Benghazi.
By any measure, Libya has gotten demonstrably worse since Gaddafi was murdered on-camera in 2011, and it doesn’t seem like the country will improve any time soon. Actually, it could get worse — especially with reports that ISIS is gaining a foothold amid the anarchy and planning to use the country as a “strategic gateway” to Europe.
There’s already a severe migrant crisis on Europe’s hands thanks to the chaos in Tobruk, and there’s no shred of authority on the ground there to halt it. Oddly enough, this was a problem Muammar Gaddafi warned Western powers would happen if his government was taken down. It turned out to be true, and, like most of Libya’s problems, it looks to be a problem directly caused by the fall of Gaddafi.
And there was no bigger cheerleader of this international folly than Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Washington Post even dubbed it “Hillary’s war.” She was the one who pushed President Obama to agree to enforcing a no-fly-zone that allowed Gaddafi’s opposition to regroup and win the bloody 2011 civil war. She advocated for supplying weapons and military training to rebel forces, some of whom were affiliated with the Islamic militants who later assaulted the U.S. compound in Benghazi.
Hillary was evidently proud of her work. On the day of the Benghazi attack, she emailed a staffer a note indicating she wanted a watch a documentary on Libya that celebrated her as a hero. In the same Washington Post article that called the Libyan intervention her war and she cooperated with, Clinton was treated as a master diplomat who orchestrated a “foreign policy success.”
Then Benghazi happened, and everyone seemed to stop treating the no-fly-zone operation as a success.
But with such a clear failure before us, why aren’t we scrutinizing those responsible for it? Particularly, Hillary Clinton, the designated “public face” of the White House’s Libya effort. If the media demands acts of contrition for Iraq from GOP contenders who had virtually no role in orchestrating the invasion, it should at least demand answers from the Donald Rumsfeld of the Libyan intervention.
Granted, unlike Iraq, it didn’t come with the tremendous cost to lives and treasure. Yet, the present situation there poses as much of a danger to our country’s interests and to our allies as the mess in Mesopotamia. And when we’re harping on Republicans about faulty intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction, we need to address why an administration’s “humanitarian interventionism” helped turn a country into a hellhole of inhumanity.
If we’re going to ask every Republican candidate: “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion of Iraq?”; we need someone to ask Hillary: “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the airstrikes into Libya?”