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The least fit of all

Clinton hasn’t learned Iraq lesson by Sheldon Richman Special to the Democrat-Gazette | January 16, 2016 at 3:19 a.m.

Even considering that no one is fit to be president--in that no one should be able to command a state which rules by threatening and committing violence against innocents--Hillary Clinton is especially unfit. I believe no one who has done what she has done as a government official should be rewarded with power.

Many things in her career could impose this special disqualification. Her vote for George W. Bush's lie-based Iraq war, for example, would be more than enough to rule her out. That political ambition now prompts her to express regret for her vote should count for nothing, especially in light of what is to be discussed below. When she says she learned her lesson, I believe she lies.

Likewise, her declaration of open-season on Syrian President Assad gave a boost to the Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliates.

But if no other horrors were on her record, one should be enough to bar her from office: Libya. It would be hard to find a better example of how one person can wreak havoc on a society and create far-ranging catastrophes beyond.

In 2011 the U.S. government led a NATO air assault on Libya under doubly false pretenses. Falsehood No. 1 was that Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi was threatening to wipe out hundreds of thousands of residents of Benghazi. As was noted at the time, including by the Defense Intelligence Agency, there was no evidence for this claim and much reason to disbelieve it. Falsehood No. 2 was related to the first: that NATO's mission was to protect civilians when in fact it was to help the rebel opposition overthrow Gadhafi's government, after which he was murdered extra-judicially by rebels.

The result of the Libya intervention is well-known. The country is in chaos, with al-Qaida- and ISIS-affiliated guerrillas running wild. With U.S. oversight, heavy arms from Gadhafi's arsenal flowed freely to rebels in Syria who either were bin Ladenites or alleged "moderates" eager to sell the arms to ISIS. Clinton brags that the intervention is a good example of "smart power," which speaks volumes about her.

The U.S. military and Secretary of War Robert Gates did not want to intervene in Libya. But then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her compatriots Susan Rice and Samantha Power did, and Barack Obama sided with them. Even after the intervention was underway it would have been possible to limit the damage, but it was not to be. As investigative journalist Gareth Porter explains:

"The [Joint Chiefs of Staff] warned that overthrowing the Gadhafi regime would serve no U.S. security interest, but would instead open the way for forces aligned with al-Qaida to take over the country. After the Obama administration went ahead with a NATO air assault against the Gadhafi regime, the U.S. military sought to head off the destruction of the entire Libyan government. General Carter Ham, the commander of AFRICOM, the U.S. regional command for Africa, gave the State Department a proposal for a ceasefire to which Gadhafi had agreed. It would have resulted in Gadhafi's resignation but retain the Libyan military's capacity to hold off jihadist forces and rescind the sanctions against Gadhafi's family.

"But the State Department refused any negotiation with Gadhafi on the proposal. Immediately after hearing that Gadhafi had been captured by rebel forces and killed, Clinton famously joked in a television interview, 'We came, we saw, he died,' and laughed."

Did Hillary Clinton, who admires Henry Kissinger, honestly believe her intervention was a humanitarian mission? Not bloody likely. How do we know? Her own emails tell us so.

In the latest Clinton email dump, Brad Hoff of Levant Report found "truly explosive confirmations ... : admissions of rebel war crimes, special ops trainers inside Libya from nearly the start of protests, al-Qaida embedded in the U.S.-backed opposition, Western nations jockeying for access to Libyan oil, the nefarious origins of the absurd Viagra mass rape claim, and concern over Gadhafi's gold and silver reserves threatening European currency."

The intervention, which brought incalculable death and mayhem to Libya, Syria, and Mali, was no innocent blunder, and I believe it discredits Hillary Clinton's claim that she learned the lesson of Iraq.

No one is fit to exercise power, but Hillary Clinton is the least fit of all.


Sheldon Richman keeps the blog Free Association ( A version of this column was originally on the blog.

Editorial on 01/16/2016

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