The Left, not Hillary Clinton, failed on Libya

Real blame for Benghazi belongs to those who did not protest U.S. intervention in Libya. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 24, 2013 — A national scapegoat narrative is quickly developing which would place the entire burden of the deadly Libyan 9/11 anniversary attacks squarely on the shoulders of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But there remains a bigger question than Clinton or Benghazi which no one seems to have the courage to ask: Why did the United States go into Libya in the first place?

According to the State Department’s official post-Benghazi investigation, “Board members found that there was little understanding of militias in Benghazi and the threat they posed to U.S. interests. One prime factor behind this knowledge gap was that eastern Libya is home to many militias, which are constantly dissolving, splitting apart and reforming. Furthermore, many individuals are associated with more than one militia. Understanding of February 17, in particular, was further limited by the fact that it is an umbrella organization, made up of many different militias with differing ideologies, some of which are extremist in nature.”

Curiously, in 2007 the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point produced a report which reviewed intelligence collected from over 700 seized records and indicated that Benghazi was one of the top recruiting sites for foreign fighters that waged war against U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq. The CTC report famously warned, “Both Darnah and Benghazi have long been associated with Islamic militancy in Libya, in particular for an uprising by Islamist organizations in the mid-1990s. The Libyan government blamed the uprising on ‘infiltrators from the Sudan and Egypt’ and one group – the Libyan Fighting Group (jama’ah al-libiyah al-mugatilah) – claimed to have Afghan veterans in its ranks. The Libyan uprisings became extraordinarily violent.”

President Barack Obama’s decision to intervene and directly support the Libyan uprising came in spite of overwhelming evidence that the groups working to overthrow the Qaddafi regime consisted of many individuals who had ties to anti-Western insurgency or were al Qaeda affiliates. As is evident by hindsight, the United States government while seeking draconian measures to intercept and indefinitely detain citizens who provide material support to terrorists at home, in effect provided assistance to terrorists and insurgents abroad.

The inherent policy contradiction and moral hazard in supporting the Islamic fighters should have been enough to deter President Obama from intervening in the Libyan internal politics of revolution. Even international law professor Eric Posner warned at Foreign Policy that the intervention illustrated “once again the motto, inter arma silent leges – in times of war, the law falls mute. Both international and U.S. law took a drubbing alongside Qaddafi’s ragtag army, casting further doubt upon the already tenuous notion that international military actions can be conducted on a legal basis. The basis for intervention under international law was dubious from the start. Libya is a sovereign state and, as a matter of international law, NATO cannot bomb it without a legal justification. The rebel’s request for military intervention could not override the government’s quite understandable, if regrettable, refusal to give its consent to be bombed. So, the United States and NATO turned to the U.N. Security Council, which enjoys the power under the U.N. Charter to authorize military interventions in foreign countries.”

Libya was one of the top recruiting locales for anti-Western insurgency during the Iraq War. (Source: CTC)

Revered geopolitical archexpert of experts and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger likewise opined, “The diplomacy generated by the Arab Spring replaces Westphalian principles of equilibrium with a generalized doctrine of humanitarian intervention. In this context, civil conflicts are viewed internationally through prisms of democratic or sectarian concerns. Outside powers demand that the incumbent government negotiate with its opponents for the purpose of transferring power. But because, for both sides, the issue is generally survival, these appeals usually fall on deaf ears. Where the parties are of comparable strength, some degree of outside intervention, including military force, is then invoked to break the deadlock. This form of humanitarian intervention distinguishes itself from traditional foreign policy by eschewing appeals to national interest or balance of power – rejected as lacking a moral dimension. It justifies itself not by overcoming a strategic threat but by removing conditions deemed a violation of universal principles of governance.”

The Nobel Peace prize-winning presidency of Barack Obama has turned the international order upside down with America’s intervention in Libya. No true liberal who values the rule of law or the regard for human progress can possibly look at America’s participation in Libya as praiseworthy. All this should force us to have a national introspection rather than an inquisition of Hillary Clinton.

For years the Left has been the intelligent, national conscience against hasty military intervention and foreign entanglement. Where was the anti-war Left when war fever and demagogic invectives were delivered by elected Democrats and Republicans in favor of intervening in Libya?

Where was the Left when human rights abuses broke out all across Libya as a result of the rebel campaign? Where was the Left when Qaddafi was found in a gutter and sodomized by insurgents? Did the same people who killed Qaddafi have a hand in killing Ambassador Stevens and his protective detail? These are all questions that the Left has failed to broach.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is an instrument and a representative of U.S. policy. Therefore let us be clear: “The fault, dear Brutus,” as Shakespeare wrote, “is not in our stars but in ourselves.” Real blame rests not with her, but corporately upon those who entrusted President Obama with the power to set our nation in collision with the dangerous elements of Libya. The Left failed in its responsibility to stop U.S. intervention in Libya and save American lives from ever being committed to a place so confusing and so dangerous.

It’s been cynically said that all it takes to change the world is one good lie and a river of blood, and that history is nothing more than a collection of official lies. It’s time to seek the truth and to be accountable for what really happened in Libya: America’s system failed because we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Oh America, you who strain out a gnat but let through a camel, how great you have fallen from justice and truth. Where was the anti-war Left when America needed their voice so desperately? It’s time for the Left to accept responsibility for its failure to protest the injustice of U.S. interventionism and for the real national healing to begin.

 

Danny de Gracia is a political scientist who lives in Hawaii. For more articles, interviews and to find out more about Danny, follow him on his official blog!


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Danny de Gracia

Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs committees at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, Danny has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. Now working on his first novel, Danny resides on the island of Oahu.

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