U.S. Conducts Airstrikes Against ISIS in Libya reads The New York Times’ August 1 headline, capturing virtually everything wrong with US foreign interventionism. Tracing the strands emanating from that headline regrettably requires a deep dive into an ideological and moral cesspool, on which Hillary Clinton luxuriates in a floating lounge chair, sunning herself and sipping a piña colada, evidently not put off by the stench.
What’s ISIS doing in Libya? It’s an offshoot of ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, which is an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq. That group was formed from an embittered core of Sunnis dispossessed of positions and property and jailed by the US government-installed majority Shiite government after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Al Qaeda’s family tree starts with the mujahideen in Afghanistan, who were backed by Presidents Carter and Reagan in their war against the Soviet Union. The goal was to draw the Soviet Union into a protracted and debilitating quagmire.
The strategy worked, but not without unfortunate consequences. Allies can turn into enemies. The leader of the mujahideen, Osama bin Laden, became the US’s implacable foe after the US set up permanent military bases in Saudi Arabia, home of sacred Islamic shrines Medina and Mecca, during the first invasion of Iraq in 1990. His anger was reportedly the impetus behind 9/11. The Afghanistan success also taught US policymakers a “lesson” they would have been better off not learning: supporting local groups in armed conflict could produce low-cost, desirable outcomes.
Clinton supported the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. She claims it was a mistake now, but the invasion was, in light of later events, fully consistent with her stance on US interventionism. In subsequent situations, she has repeated her Iraq “mistake.” Afghanistan and Iraq were the first neoconservative forays into regime change and replacement with US-compliant governments, securing oil supplies, and nation building on the way to an efflorescence of democracy and increased regional toleration of Israel.
That’s not the way things have worked out. After a financial tally in the trillions of dollars, thousands of military casualties, and a civilian death toll in the millions, Afghanistan and Iraq are sectarian hell holes, beset by ISIS; US military forces are still present in both nations (Afghanistan counts as the longest war in US history); US intervention has been a major spur for Islamic extremism and blowback terrorism, and Afghans and Iraqis are part of the refugee flood overwhelming Europe.
There is no darker stain on Clinton’s record than Libya. The brutal regime change that led to chaos in Iraq was repeated in Libya, except the death by sodomy of Muammar Gaddafi was more grisly than Saddam Hussein’s comparatively dignified hanging. She was the prime proponent within the Obama administration of the Libyan fiasco, remembering everything but learning nothing from Iraq. Donald Trump’s campaign would be well advised to show Clinton’s infamous, “We came, we saw, he died…cackle” video over and over, juxtaposed with scenes of the chaos that has engulfed Libya, where three rival “governments” contest for control of the country. And let’s not forget Benghazi.
Clinton, her neoconservative cohorts, and the US’s Sunni allies in the Middle East—Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey—have their hearts set on yet another regime change in Syria. (Many of these allies have made large donations to the Clinton foundation.) One shudders to think of the death they have envisioned for Shiite Bashar Assad if they’re successful. Clinton fully supports the US’s muddled policy of getting rid of Assad by using Islamic extremists pursuing the same goal. The US has quietly succored ISIS and affiliated jihadists while appearing to fight them, and has done nothing to stop its allies from doing the same.
However, they have been stymied by the Russia-Iranian-Hezbollah alliance, which has proven far more effective against ISIS and its affiliates than the US alliance. Clinton’s proposed response? Institute a no-fly zone over northern Syria, potentially risking a confrontation with the Russian air force and stifling its ability to fight ISIS.