A work in progress? So is Chernobyl.
But, in speaking with Clinton’s closest aides and advisors, it’s clear that she has already formulated a detailed defense. Clinton, they say, does not see the Libya intervention as a failure, but as a work in progress.
In progress toward what? Libya has never had a stable government. It's still in the middle of a prolonged civil war. ISIS and Al Qaeda have the run of the place.
“[The Republicans] are going to make a big effort to suggest that the current instability in Libya reflects on the secretary,” one Clinton campaign aide told me. “But the secretary feels confident … people will see that her decision-making and her leadership helped save us from a scenario where it could have come become another Syria.”
Except Libya is another Syria. It's an ongoing pitched battle between Jihadists and pro-government forces. And ISIS is building an even bigger presence there.
But we get an even more ridiculous narrative from Foreign Policy.
To some extent, Obama’s self-criticism overcompensates. There was plenty of planning for the “day after” during the eight-month NATO intervention. Even as the Libya uprising unfolded already in early March, the National Security Council established a working group to plan the post-Qaddafi period, led by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and drawing heavily on the experience of NSC officials like Samantha Power, now ambassador to the U.N. and Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Moscow. Officials were quoted at the time as saying they were working to avoid the postwar mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan.
What exactly was the plan? Shh. Don't ask. Here's what the plan was missing
1. Foreign forces on the ground
2. An Islamist-free government
3. A serious plan to disarm terrorists
4. Any kind of serious stability
Giving Islamists money in exchange for protection while asking them to hold elections is not a plan. It's not anything.
Clinton’s advisors and aides point instead to two other key factors they believe contributed to the inability of the United States to stop Libya from fracturing: the Libyans’ refusal to allow any foreign security presence on their territory and the political aftermath of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi.
There are no Libyans. There was never an actual Libyan government. The last Libyan government in control of the whole control was headed by Gaddafi. If Clinton and Obama had no problems overthrowing him, did they really have problems bringing US forces in because of their fake new government?
But key was the Libyan government’s refusal of any international forces from the outset. On Aug. 31, 2011, a few days after the fall of Tripoli, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he wanted to “get U.N. personnel on the ground absolutely as quickly as possible, under a robust Security Council mandate.” Ban’s special advisor for Libya, Ian Martin, had already drawn up an extensive plan that envisaged U.N. police and military observers and an interim protection force for the observers. The Libyans, however, wouldn’t let the strategy move forward.
A UN observer force. Traditionally slightly less useful than a screen door on a submarine. If only there had been a UN observer force, they could have
1. Been taken hostage
2. Run away
3. Sought protection from Egypt
4. Gotten killed while pleading for their lives
The possibilities are really endless. Without US firepower, UN personnel are useless. Picture UN personnel in Benghazi and then start laughing.
But this lets Clintonworld claim that their plan was to solve everything with the UN. But Libya turned down the UN. And so it's their fault.
But the tragic attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, which claimed Ambassador Stevens’ life, is what irrevocably damaged Washington’s Libya policy. Following the attack, American personnel were evacuated from Libya, including the small State Department team. Coming two months before the U.S. presidential election, the fallout became toxically politicized on all sides, distorting the debate and undermining Libya policy.
“What effectively happened after Benghazi was the U.S. took what was already a modest toolbox in Libya, and we went home,” said another Clinton campaign advisor, Derek Chollet, who served as deputy chief for policy planning under Clinton until 2011, then was on the National Security Council staff before serving as assistant secretary of defense for international security until 2014
So the Clinton plan is to claim that Benghazi didn't show that her policy failed, rather that her policy failed because we overreacted to Benghazi? Someone's been taking notes from Obama.
Sure Benghazi was run by terrorists. But if only we had put out more ambassadors for them to kill while doing nothing to protect them, everything would have worked out.
The political firestorm that followed the Benghazi attack meant there were few options to maintain a diplomatic presence in Libya. No one in Tripoli or Washington wanted to consider U.S. troops to protect the American embassy.
Chollet told me that even if a modest diplomatic presence could have made a difference on the ground, there was no incentive to take the risk and find out amid the “Benghazi witch hunt.”
A new ambassador, Deborah Jones, arrived nine months later, in May 2013, working with a reduced staff in Tripoli. But by July 2014, the U.S. embassy had to be hastily evacuated due to the rapidly deteriorating security situation, forcing Jones to operate out of Malta.
So to summarize... Libya wasn't safe enough for US diplomats to operate in. But US diplomats would have somehow fixed Libya if only they could operate there. But somehow it's the fault of Republicans that they couldn't.