If you cast your mind back to the NATO assault on Libya that led to the fall and death of Muammar Gaddafi, the disintegration of Libya as a functioning state and the rise in that country of ISIS, it was all justified on the basis of a supposed threat to the civilian population in Benghazi issued by the Gaddafi regime.
Gaddafi was said to be about to slaughter the people of Benghazi, who, in imitation of the people of Tunisia and inspired by what came to be known as the Arab Spring, were protesting against his regime, and to prevent this disaster the West launched a humanitarian intervention, the latest in a series of similar military adventures since Tony Blair first came up with the concept to justify military action in Kosovo during the Bill Clinton presidency.
The Libyan intervention was sold in the UK on that basis by the Cameron government and in the US by Obama’s then foreign policy adviser and now UN ambassador Samantha Power and by the Obama Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The intervention, both governments stressed, was solely to save human life and not to eject Gaddafi from power. Obama went so far as to issue a public assurance to that effect:
The task that I assigned our forces [is] to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone. Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.
Now we already know that the threat to the people of Benghazi was exaggerated and bogus – just like Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass destruction – as this devastating report established.
But now comes confirmation that the claim that the intervention was not intended to overthrow Gaddafi was also suspect and that whatever was in Obama’s mind, his Secretary of State was in no doubt: this was about getting rid of Gaddafi.
When Hillary Clinton appeared before the House Select Committee in Congress last week to be interrogated about the jihadist attack on the CIA compound cum embassy in Benghazi, she was also asked about the infamous TV interview (see above) she gave just days after Gaddafi’s death at the hands of a jihadi mob.
Micah Zenko, a foreign policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, was the only observer to spot this exchange and the significance of Clinton’s response, which he then posted on his facebook page.
Here is the full text:
At the eleven-hour United States House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing yesterday, Sec. Hillary Clinton said something in passing that has received no attention by the committee members or the media.
When asked by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) about a video clip that read, “We came, we saw, he died [meaning former Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi]. Is that the Clinton doctrine?” Clinton replied, “No, that was an expression of relief that the military mission undertaken by NATO and our other partners had achieved its end.”
What is now totally forgotten is that regime change WAS NOT the intended military mission of the Libya intervention in March 2011. As President Barack Obama stated (atfp.co/1kyBt2i) in a speech to the nation on March 28, 2011, “The task that I assigned our forces [is] to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone,” adding explicitly, “Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.”
If the Select Committee on Benghazi had been interested in conducting an actual oversight hearing of the Obama administration’s policy toward Libya, a committee member could have pressed Clinton to explain why U.S. objectives shifted so markedly from protecting civilians to killing Qaddafi. Or, if regime change was the intended policy objective from the very beginning, why didn’t President Obama say so to the American public?
Unfortunately, such a line of questioning was not pursued yesterday, nor will it be in other committee hearings. A journalist should ask Clinton about this discrepancy, since she would be making similar speeches to the nation about America’s war aims.
So there you are. Like the invasion of Iraq, the invasion of Libya was not carried out for the reasons given to the world, but to advance Western political and other (mostly economic) interests by removing a leader considered an obstacle to those interests.
In this respect Hillary Clinton is in the same class as Tony Blair.