During a CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall held back on February, 23, 2016
with Chris Cuomo as host, Hillary Clinton played her hand when she was asked the following question:
"Madam Secretary, you are for a regime change in Syria. But as we have learned in Iraq, and recently Libya, getting rid of longtime dictators and their affiliates can lead to problems unforeseen.
So if Assad was to be deposed, how would you direct the State Department and international partners to install within that country a government capable of containing and mitigating the sectarian and insurgency violence that will undoubtedly increase, thus further destabilizing the region?"
Here's Hillary Clinton's response:
"Well, that's an excellent question. And let me say, first of all, talking about Syria and Libya, in Syria, it looks like, and I hope it's the case, we will have a cease-fire by the weekend.
I know that Secretary Kerry has been working very hard on that and I hope that takes hold, because we need to turn the attention of everyone in Syria to defeating the terrorists.
And we've got to stop the ongoing bombing that Russia has carried out in support of the Assad regime against the Syrians, themselves, who are trying to, you know, wage a civil war against Assad.
So I'm hoping that that happens because we do have some work to do. And I would like it to be work that, number one, has safe havens for people in Syria, number two, begins a political dialogue, which was your question, how do you create some kind of outcome that will have a more stable future?
Who do you get at the table? I worked on that when I was secretary of state. I know Secretary Kerry continues that work.
And the Russians and the Iranians are the two biggest supporters of the Assad regime. So they have to be part of any kind of ongoing political diplomatic effort.
Libya is a little different. You know, Libya actually held elections. They elected moderates. They have tried to piece together a government against a lot of really serious challenges internally coming from the outside with terrorist groups and other bad actors.
They're working to try to unify the different factions inside Libya so that they can take united action against the terrorists and try to get the east and the west of the country working together.
You know, they're a rich country. They have oil. They're not without resources. But they've got to get over their internal disputes. And the United States, Europe, and others are helping them to try to do that, and I think they need some time and support.
I know the United States has taken some actions against terrorists inside Libya, particularly ISIS training camps, and I support that, because I want to give the people of Libya a chance to actually form a government and realize the promise of getting rid of Gadhafi, who had so oppressed the country for, you know, more than 40 years, hollowed out all the institutions, threatened genocide against his own people, which is one of the reasons why the rest of the world intervened. And I'm hoping that we can give them the time and space to actually, you know, make a difference for their country in the future.
CUOMO: How do you explain the time and space to people? Because when you look at Libya, for example, you're right about ISIS being there. The U.S. just had to bomb. The place, by most estimates, is in a nightmare phase right now. Is it an example for people to say, you see what happens when we get involved, you see what happens when we take somebody out? You don't know what's going to replace it; maybe we shouldn't have done it that way. Do you believe there is a mistake involved in Libya right now?
CLINTON: Well, let me make two points. One, let's remember what was going on at the time. This was at the height of the Arab spring. The people in Libya were expressing themselves, were demanding their freedom, and Gadhafi responded brutally and said that he would just hunt them down like cockroaches, and made it very clear that he would use his mercenaries — because he didn't have a standing army, he had a lot of hired mercenaries from around — to do literally that.
The Europeans, who are across the sea from Libya, you know, came to us and said, this is on our doorstep, we need your help. Basically, they said, we're with you in Afghanistan, we need you now to help us with Libya, because we've got to prevent this terrible happening that could result from Gadhafi. We had Arabs come to us and say the same thing.
We formed the first coalition between NATO and Arab nations. Arab nations actually ran a lot of the air campaign and other support systems. So I think you have to look at what was going on at the time and why it seemed — and I agree with this — to make sense for us to bring our special assets to the table to help the people of Libya.
Now, I go back to this point. They had an election, and it was a good election, it was a fair election, it met international standards. That was an amazing accomplishment for a nation that had been so deprived for so long."
Now, let's get to the key point, how Hillary Clinton sees the world, how she sees America's historical role in the world, a vision that provides us with an idea of how she sees her potential administration's role in international affairs:
"You know, the United States was in Korea, and still is, for many years. We are still in Germany. We are still in Japan. We have a presence in a lot of places in the world that started out as a result of conflict. And if you think about South Korea, there were coups, there were assassinations, there was a lot of problems for the Koreans to build their economy, to create their democracy." (my bold)
"We have fully complied with the historic mandate of the United Nations to protect the people of Libya, to enforce the no-fly zone and the arms embargo. Operation Unified Protector is one of the most successful in NATO history.
We launched this complex operation faster than ever before. We conducted it effectively, flexibly and precisely with many partners from the region and beyond. And we are concluding it in a considered and controlled manner — because our military job is now done
I want to thank our commanders and our servicemen and women, for conducting this mission so well, so carefully and with such dedication.
We have done this together for the people of Libya. So they can take their future firmly and safely into their own hands. Libyans have now liberated their country. And they have transformed the region. This is their victory. (my bold)
Of course, they still have a lot of work to do – to build a new Libya, based on reconciliation, human rights and the rule of law. A democratic Libya for all its people.
But the world stands with them. And NATO stands ready to help, if needed and requested. To help Libyans reform the security and defence institutions that all democracies need to remain free and safe."
According to Amnesty International
, there are still two rival governments in place as well as armed groups including ISIS that continue to commit war crimes and abuse human rights. The actual number of civilian casualties is unknown but AI estimates that by October 2015, 2.44 million people needed humanitarian assistance and protection, 435,000 persons were internally displaced, 20,000 civilians were injured between May 2014 and May 2015 and 600 civilians were killed. So much for "democracy"and "safety".
Keeping in mind that Libya was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's template for overthrowing a government, I find her comments about Korea and Germany most enlightening. Basically, she's telling Americans that they'd better brace themselves for a lifetime of military presence in Syria if the United States is actually successful at booting Bashar al-Assad from Syria, a prospect that looks quite unlikely given Russia's support for the long-time Syrian President and friend of Russia, unless of course she takes on Russia, a not entirely unlikely scenario. Obviously, if Ms. Clinton becomes the next POTUS, the United States may find itself entrenched for the long haul in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and God knows where else when she decides that further U.S. intervention is necessary to ensure that the American way of life becomes firmly entrenched in these targeted nations.
One thing we can assure ourselves of is that, under a Clinton II presidency, long-term international turmoil and confrontation lie ahead. Generations of turmoil.
to read more of Glen Asher's columns