March 19, 2011, was a day that forever changed life in the North African country of Libya, which contained the largest oil reserves in Africa. It was the day that President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved an air attack against the country that Muammar Gaddafi had ruled for four decades.
Obama and Clinton made the decision — which some consider was illegal — to order the strikes, claiming that “the military action sought to save the lives of peaceful, pro-democracy protesters who found themselves the target of a crackdown by Libyan dictator (Muammar Gaddafi),” Politico reported.
The U.S. and other NATO countries including Britain and France began to bomb Gaddafi’s assets. By October 2011, rebel forces backed by a group of Western powers took over the country, located Gaddafi and killed him.
Here are 10 things to know about Clinton and Obama’s illegal war against Gaddafi in Libya.
After Gaddafi was killed, Obama declared, “We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi—a city nearly the size of Charlotte—could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.” During a speech in the White House Rose Garden speech after Gaddafi’s death, Obama said, “Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives.”
Alan Kuperman, an associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, said, “In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased several fold.
“Rather than helping the United States combat terrorism, as Gaddafi did during his last decade in power, Libya (began to serve) as a safe haven for militias affiliated with both al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS). The Libya intervention has harmed other U.S. interests as well: undermining nuclear nonproliferation, chilling Russian cooperation at the U.N., and fueling Syria’s civil war,” Politico reported.
Looking back on the devastating action, Obama has alluded to regrets about the failure to prepare Libya for life without Gaddafi. Obama said that while the intervention “was the right thing to do,” the worst mistake of his presidency was failing to prepare for the day after the fall of Gaddafi, Foreign Policy reported.
The U.S. left the formerly peaceful and organized Libya in shambles.
“What the Obama administration may have underestimated isn’t so much the work that was needed, but the role that Libyans would play in their own future.,” Foreign Policy reported.
Despite the criticism, despite the devastating aftermath of the takedown of Gaddafi, despite her former boss, Obama, having regrets, Hillary Clinton said he has no regrets about her role.
Clinton was the main Obama adviser pushing for war.
According to Clinton’s closest aides and advisors, she still does not see the Libya intervention as a failure, but as a work in progress.
“The key lesson she has drawn from Libya is not that the U.S. should always avoid intervention or steer clear from the Middle East altogether, but that it needs to deepen its commitment to the region and find longer-term ways to engage with it,” Foreign Policy reported.
Besides Clinton, there were several other women in his administration that were pro-war including National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Samantha Power — U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and foreign policy and human rights adviser under Obama — and Gayle Smith, special assistant to the president and senior director at the National Security Council, The Nation reported.
In 2003, President George W. Bush negotiated an agreement with Gaddafi. The deal: Gaddafi would give up his weapons of mass destruction peacefully, and the U.S. wouldn’t try to depose him.
The Obama administration didn’t adhere to it. Instead, Clinton spearheaded a plan to topple Gaddafi, New York Times reported.
The takedown on Gaddafi by Clinton and Obama destroyed the Libyan government, the order of the country and the life Libyans knew and enjoyed, USA Today reported. “The overthrow turned out to be a debacle. Libya exploded into chaos and civil war, and refugees flooded Europe, destabilizing governments there.”
At the time of Gaddafi’s killing, Clinton thought it was a great triumph — “We came, we saw, he died,” she joked about Gaddafi’s overthrow, USA Today reported.
Libya was hit with heavy artillery. “On March 20, 2011, just hours into the intervention, Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from a British submarine stationed in the Mediterranean Sea struck an administrative building in (Gaddafi’s) Bab al-Aziziya compound, less than 50 yards away from the dictator’s residence…Just as the dictator somehow survived the attack on his personal residence in 1986, he also did in 2011,” Foreign Policy reported.
After the attack on Libya, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, lambasted Obama over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. military intervention in Libya, calling him an “assassin” and a “murderer,” The Huffington Post reported.
“We voted for our brother Barack, a beautiful human being with a sweetheart,” Farrakhan said in a video. “But he has turned into someone else. Now he’s an assassin.”
America “puts her trust in her weapons of war,” Farrakhan continued. “She threatens the nations of the earth and has my brother calling for the assassination of brother Muammar Gaddafi. What has he done? I can defend that man. You don’t know that man.”
Although he was a dictator, Gaddafi was considered by many a leader who loved Africa and loved his country, Libya.
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“Libya under Gaddafi was not entirely hellish as the world has been made to believe. The citizens did not have the luxury of voting but Gaddafi made sure they had a high standard of living to compensate for curtailed freedoms. Was this enough? That is a moot point but the fact remains: Libya was a great place to stay under Gaddafi (provided one did not try to usurp power),” African Exponent reported.
Under Gaddafi, the citizens of Libya received some benefits not available to people in the U.S. They included free education and medical treatment for all and living in a debt-free country — Libya had external debt and possessed reserves of $150 billion. In Libya under Gaddafi, home was considered a human right for citizens. Women in Libya were free to work and dress as they liked. People had enough food. The privatization of all Libyan oil initially provided $21,000 to every citizen from a total of $32 billion in 2011.