Two failed military interventions in a decade leaves some liberals uneasy of a Clinton Presidency

Last week, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard stepped down as vice-chair of the Democrat National Committee to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders. In her endorsement, Rep. Gabbard said:

“We need a Commander in Chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment and who understands the need for a robust foreign policy which defends the safety and security of the American people. And who will not waste precious lives and money on interventionist wars of regime change. Such counterproductive wars undermine our national security and economic prosperity.”

As the primaries continue to roll on, Bernie Sanders continues to be a formidable challenger while Clinton continues to be the front runner. And as a Bernie Sanders supporter, I have one question if I have to end up voting for Hillary and it concerns whether or not there will be any more of Clinton’s unnecessary wars?

This question may sound a little naive and unfair to ask a person running for Commander in Chief of the United States. We live in an unstable and delicate world where a single action can set off another international crises. Very often, like in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, a military response is required.

But precisely because being commander in chief of this nation requires taking delicate decisions, this question has to be asked. And when it comes to war and intervention, Hillary Clinton’s record has not been the best.

We all know about her vote and advocacy for the Iraq war that cost her dearly in 2008. But there is also the most recent example of the intervention in Libya. In both countries, Clinton relied on and promoted questionable intelligence to make her case for both interventions. As Secretary of State, Clinton was one of the most influential voices that tilted the President towards taking military action in Libya. As quoted in a recent New York Times feature,

“Her conviction would be critical in persuading Mr. Obama to join allies in bombing Colonel Qaddafi’s forces. In fact, Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, would later say that in a “51-49” decision, it was Mrs. Clinton’s support that put the ambivalent president over the line.”

Libya has slowly turned into a second Iraq and a second failure of Western intervention in the Middle East. Not only is Libya in a civil war, it has become a breeding ground for ISIS and is at the center of the weapons proliferation that has now spread to armed conflicts in Syria, Mali, the Gaza Strip, among others.

So what’s worrying about Hillary Clinton is that after her vote and advocacy for the Iraq War, she became the decisive voice to participate in another intervention that has resulted in another failed state that continues to destabilize such a volatile region of the world.

Now, to be fair, the French and the British were aggressive in pursing a military intervention in Libya, regardless of whether or not the United States pitched in. But that still doesn’t free Clinton from the fact that while President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and other members of the Obama cabinet were weary about getting involved in another intervention, Hillary Clinton was the deciding factor in Obama’s decision.

Hilary’s consistency in supporting questionable military actions can be more accurately explained through her view of the United States role in the world. As she said at a House hearing on Benghazi:

“We have learned the hard way when America is absent, especially from unstable places, there are consequences… extremism takes root, aggressors seek to fill the vacuum, and security everywhere is threatened, including here at home.”

But her statement couldn’t be farther from the truth. Almost every nation that has seen United States intervention has been left worse than before. Whether it was the 1980s interventions in Central America that has created the violence plaguing those nations, or our continued interventions in the Middle East. When America acts “in defense” of national security and interests, power vacuums and extremism is created, not prevented.

Of course, I do believe the United States should be an important leader in the international community. But not the way our country has done so for the past century. Bombing third world countries creates dire circumstances and resentment among local populations that breeds more terror and anger against the United States. As Paul Rosenberg at Salon writes:

“Terrorists want war. War creates more terrorists. That’s what the Iraq War clearly demonstrated. We need to think about going beyond that, finding a different way. Our current strategy of taking on the Islamic states, has only bred more ‘martyrs’ who inspire new terrorists to take up their arms against the United States.”

If the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”, the United States’ actions epitomizes this definition. It seems like Hillary Clinton would not change course.

If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, the general election will be narrowed down to one of the Republican war hawks and a Democratic candidate who has been less than reluctant when using military force. Of course, Clinton would not be as bad as any of the GOP candidates who have the potential to become bigger war criminals than Henry Kissinger.

It’s still saddening however, that 8 years ago Democratic voters chose a candidate who ran on a more peaceful message, and as President has been often weary of the use of force, Democrats are now willing to chose a candidate whose actions have been far from peaceful.

When it comes to certain issues, Clinton has shown that she can evolve to more reasonable positions, such as gay marriage and the TPP. Can she evolve on her use of military force?

I certainly hope so.


  1. Hillary is a republican lite, if you will. Her past will once again take her down and if she doesn’t do tbiohe proper thing and concede to and support Bernie Sanders, we will have a Trump, Cruz or even worse, if that even possible, a Rubio presidency.
    If that happens and to a lesser extent if Hilliary wins, it will be world at war, no pre-paid college tuition. no universal healthcare and on and on.
    Bernie Sanders has a very large grassroots following of people that he has awakened and if he is not the nominee, they will either write him in (as I am seriously considering) or stay home and not vote.
    Neither of those options will work to heal this the major problems the country faces. And neither are acceptable as that will mean that we will have a delusional idiot (in one way or another) in the White House and worse yet a delusional person choosing a SCOTUS nominee and will ruin America for the rest of my lifetime.
    I think NOT!

  2. Re Libya, I can’t say I appreciate your 20-20 hindsight. As I recall, and you apparently do not, it was a question of whether Qaddafi should be permitted to slaughter his own people who rose up against him. As far as predicting the ong-term outcome, I guess you shoulda been there at meetings in the White House, to be the Nostradamus they didn’t have.

      • I have to somewhat disagree with making an equivalency between Libya and either Tunisia or Egypt. Both of the latter two had what were, for that part of the world, relatively functional governments both before and after their respective uprisings. Governments that spawned freedom amongst the citizenry? No. But functioning governments that prevented the chaos and wholesale slaughter that has enveloped failed states throughout Africa and the middle east. To equate them with Libya might be a reach.

        The situation in Libya had already evolved into a killing field and there was/is evidence that it was only going to become worse. Furthermore, any real semblance of centralized order had virtually disappeared. All of that to say that Libya was on the brink of becoming a “failed state” within which wholesale slaughter between opposing elements was only going to intensify.

        I am without certainty per what President Obama/Secretary Clinton should have done. To do nothing would have been to most certainly sit by and watch Rwanda occur again in a more open and visible area. But it is a fact that the aftermath of U.S. action has not led to anything close to an ordered state.

        And let’s please not kid ourselves about President Obama.Though far more hesitant to use military power than any president since Jimmy Carter, he is a very smart, strategic thinker and his military actions reflect that. But, in the end, he had to sign off on Libya.

        I have no good answers for failed states such as Libya, Somalia, etc. I have no good answer for Syria. And, face it, there are untold others—I have no answers for them, either. I am not a pacifist. But I am not a “just war” theorist, either—it is just too easy to justify military action on the basis of its “justness.”

        So, make your case for those situations where military action is a workable alternative. Or, make your case for those situations where diplomacy is a workable alternative. Or, make your case for those situations where doing nothing is a workable alternative.

        Sometimes I think we might do well to just consider voting for that candidate whom we think will do the damn best they can in situations whose resolution is far beyond our reach. They will make good decisions. They will make bad decisions. But, in each case, their reasoning will be as sound as it can be and they will do the best they can per the interests of those who suffer and the interests of the global community.

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