One of the many disastrous foreign policy efforts of the Obama presidency was overthrowing nations in the Middle East. For a candidate who ran on a “no war” promise, he seemed to have no issue with interfering with an unstable hostile state (Syria), making it worse; an allied nation (Egypt), almost giving it to the Muslim Brotherhood, and; and a stable non-hostile state, Libya, turning it into a disaster.
The Legacy of Obama’s ‘Worst Mistake’
There’s a problem with the American way of war.
By Dominic TierneyApril 15, 2016
In a Fox News interview last Sunday, Obama was asked about his “worst mistake.” It’s a classic gotcha question, but he had an answer ready. “Probably failing to plan for the day after, what I think was the right thing to do, in intervening in Libya.” This was yet another act of presidential contrition for the NATO operation in 2011 that helped to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi but left the country deeply unstable. In 2014, Obama said: “[W]e [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you’re going to do this. Then it’s the day after Qaddafi is gone, when everybody is feeling good and everybody is holding up posters saying, ‘Thank you, America.’ At that moment, there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies that didn’t have any civic traditions.” In recent interviews with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg on the “Obama Doctrine,” the president bluntly said the mission in Libya “didn’t work.” Behind closed doors, according to Goldberg, he calls the situation there a “s*&^ show...”
Mr. Obama, maybe you should have thought (snicker) about that before you decided to overthrow one of the successes of the Iraq War. Qaddafi, no angel, in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s ouster, gave up his WMD program, settled the civil actions arising from the Lockerbie Scotland airline bombing, and was cooperating with us on intelligence matters. In case you never understood this, we don’t necessary need friends, or allies in other nations. A non-hostile but stable nation is also good to have. We had that in Libya, until you and your Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, turned stability to a “s*&^ show.”
Perhaps you and Mrs. Clinton should read something other than Rules for Radicals, like a biography of one of your predecessors, Dwight Eisenhower. He was famous for many things, including thinking things through. He had been planning major operations for decades, and he always asked, “And what next?” You plan for what will come after you execute your grand plan.
The results of your great plan in Libya? Well, from the CATO institute:
Such is the cost of America’s promiscuous war‐making
Libya’s ongoing destruction belongs to Hillary Clinton more than anyone else. It was she who pushed President Barack Obama to launch his splendid little war, backing the overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi in the name of protecting Libya’s civilians. When later asked about Gaddafi’s death, she cackled and exclaimed: “We came, we saw, he died.”
The arrogance, hubris and incompetence of Mrs. Bill Clinton never ceases to amaze me.
Alas, his was not the last death in that conflict, which has flared anew, turning Libya into a real‐life Game of Thrones. An artificial country already suffering from deep regional divisions, Libya has been further torn apart by political and religious differences. One commander fighting on behalf of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Salem Bin Ismail, told the BBC: “We have had chaos since 2011.”
… in 2011, the Arab Spring engulfed Libya, as people rose against Gaddafi’s rule. He responded with force to reestablish control. However, Western advocates of regime change warned that genocide was possible and pushed for intervention under United Nations auspices. In explaining his decision to intervene, Obama stated: “We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi…could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.” Russia and China went along with a resolution authorizing “all necessary measures to prevent the killing of civilians.”
In fact, the fears were fraudulent. Gaddafi was no angel, but he hadn’t targeted civilians, and his florid rhetoric, cited by critics, only attacked those who had taken up arms. He even promised amnesty to those who abandoned their weapons. With no civilians to protect, NATO, led by the U.S., bombed Libyan government forces and installations and backed the insurgents’ offensive. It was not a humanitarian intervention, but a lengthy, costly, low‐tech, regime‐change war, mostly at Libyan expense. Obama claimed: “We had a unique ability to stop the violence.” Instead his administration ensured that the initial civil war would drag on for months—and the larger struggle ultimately for years…
And thanks to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama’s foolishness, they turned a stable nation in an unstable region into an example of disaster. Critically, Libya’s inventory of 20,000 Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) was lost, and the US and Israel had only recovered 5,000 of them as of 2013.
Amazingly, ten years since Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama “worse mistake,” other nations are having to deal with this disaster of foreign policy. The Italians have elected a new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni. One of her promises is to “secure the border” (Sound familiar?).
From the Washington Post:
… (Giorgia) Meloni has also called, repeatedly, for a “naval blockade” of the Mediterranean. A spokesman for Meloni said Monday that such a move could only be led by Europe, and in cooperation with North African countries.
In her interview with The Post, Meloni said “migrant flows need to be managed,” because “nations only exist if there are borders, and if those are defended.” She said that Italy had been giving immigrants few legal pathways, while instead letting migration be dominated by “smugglers” and “slave drivers.”
But there is no question thanks to the chaos of Libya, established by the Obama’s interference in their nation, Europe is having to deal with millions of refugees. Italy is having to deal with over a million refugees from the Libyan civil war. Did the US start the civil war, no. But interference by the US and NATO was a disaster, causing a strain on the nations of Europe and Africa.
I can recommend another book to Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, Once an Eagle. Towards the end, the protagonist, Sam Damon, is speaking with an officer of the fictional nation of Khotiane (obviously an allegory of Vietnam). The officer reviews with Damon how Great Britain almost entered on the side of the south during the American Civil War. He makes the point just as Britain had no business being in that conflict, the Americans have no business in Khotiane’s fight. “It is our civil war.”
Unfortunately Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton didn’t learn that lesson. And Europe, as well are other nations, are paying the price for it.