Thursday, May 12, 2016

Attacking Hillary's Record in Libya

There is a false narrative that has been spreading on the left for years. It centers around the idea that everything bad that has happened in LIbya--and not just Benghazi!--can be laid at Hillary Clinton's feet. That's a smear, of course, because of two things. One, Hillary was carrying out the wishes of the Obama Administration as the Secretary of State and two, Libya had serious problems as a failed state long before the United States carried out very limited interventions in 2011 and 2012.

Freddie DeBoer carries water for these smears and they crop up in strange places. On a Deadspin thread about Curt Schilling, why wouldn't you repeat months-old information from the Intercept about how we should be blaming Hillary for everything that has ever gone wrong in the world:

Schilling is garbage and Trump is a horrific proto-fascist, but it is strange that liberals attack Trump for proposing to deport many people, when Obama has deported more than any other president (over 2.5 million!), or that they attack him for proposing to do awful things to Muslims, when Hillary has been a key architect of several disastrous military interventions that actually killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims.

In order to reach that horrible threshold of "hundreds of thousands of Muslims," DeBoer has to conflate Hillary's work as Secretary of State with her voting for the Iraq War. These things are not the same of course--she didn't act unilaterally as Secretary of State and she was lied to by the Bush Administration. That doesn't matter to DeBoer because there's an angle here and it's one that will be employed again and again. The only thing that can possibly help Trump win in November is for Hillary to be attacked from the left because attacks from the right don't hold up against her record. They don't want to debate her diplomacy or her decision making. They want to take examples of failure and try to pin them on her.

I get that Libya was a debacle, but it did not draw hundreds of thousands of American troops into a brutal, multi-year ground fight. The idea that Hillary pushed for intervention has been debunked numerous times. The invasion wasn't really an invasion because much of what was done was either handled by the CIA or NATO.

You can't help but wonder why no one brings this up:

France and the United Kingdom (UK) assumed the lead in pushing for the international community to intervene militarily to protect Libyan civilians and also, subsequently, accounted for a big part of the combat air sorties. The United States (US) initially took a more cautious approach, which sparked a debate whether Washington was ‘leading from behind’. At the end of the day, though, their political and military contribution was crucial for the mission to happen in the first place. The period leading up to the military campaign also offered a number of surprises. French President Sarkozy stood for some in his assertiveness, including a swift recognition of the Libyan opposition National Transitional Council. The biggest one, however, was probably that of Germany when Berlin chose to abstain on the vote on UNSCR 1973, siding with Russia and China.

Libya was a NATO operation. It did not irreparably harm U.S. interests in the region because we had virtually none to begin with. Decades of misrule left the country with few options. And while there are problems, fighting in Libya is limited to just a few areas. And while every death is a tragedy, no one claims that "hundreds of thousands" have died in Libya. The number is a fraction of that.

Does Libya need our help now? Obviously. But who would you trust to do that--Trump or Hillary?

You will see this narrative come up again in the months ahead--Libya is a failed state and it's Hillary's fault. What they won't admit is that the Iraq War was completely bungled by the Bush Administration and was many, many times more devastating in terms of lives lost and costs born by the American people. Don't fall for the bullshit perpetrated by the likes of Freddie "you're doing liberalism wrong" DeBoer.

Hello, World!

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