Libya

Here’s why Rand Paul’s critics are epically wrong about foreign policy

The reaction to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s Wall Street Journal column on Middle East interventionism isn’t surprising. Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post called Paul “ignorant” and suggests he could be lying about the arguments for and against. Adriana Cohen at the Boston Herald called him “clueless” and someone who should “wake up to reality.” Pema Levy at Newsweek says Paul is just trying to copy a page out of President Barack Obama’s 2008 playbook regarding opposition to the Iraq War. The Democrats called Paul’s foreign policy slogan “Blame America. Retreat from the World.”

This isn’t true at all. He told Breitbart.com on August 27 he was in favor of airstrikes against ISIS, but wanted to talk to Congress first. That’s the Constitutional stance because Congress has to approve war.

Hillary Clinton’s big criticism of Barack Obama is that he didn’t go to war against Syria

Back in June, Cato Institute Vice President Gene Healy shed some light on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy record. No, we’re not talking about her cataclysmic failure in Benghazi or any of her other mistakes during her time in Foggy Bottom.

Healy’s warning was that Clinton — throughout the course of her national profile as first lady, U.S. senator, Secretary of State, and, now, Democratic presidential nominee in waiting — has never met a war she didn’t like. She helped present the case for the Iraq war and the ties between Saddam Hussein’s regime and terrorist elements — ties, by the way, that didn’t exist.

More recently, Healy notes, Clinton urged President Obama to intervene in Libya. And, of course, the Obama administration joined the NATO campaign in 2011 to depose the North African country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. The intervention in Libya — which is, basically, in the midst of an internal conflict so violent that both the U.N. and the U.S. have evacuated staffers from their embassies — is generally thought to be one of this administration’s foreign policy blunders.

Clinton was also supportive of U.S. intervention against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. President Obama, however, didn’t take that step, largely due to congressional and public opposition to yet another war.

But Clinton is now criticizing President Obama’s approach to foreign policy, an approach she helped craft during in four years as his secretary of state. In an interview with The Atlantic, Clinton criticized the White House for not throwing its full weight behind the Syrian rebels fighting Assad’s regime:

Military intervention in Libya failed: United Nations pulls out of Tripoli due to violence caused by Islamic radicals

Muammar Gaddafi addresses the United Nations

In 2011, NATO decided it was a good idea to intercede in Libya, and try something that western powers had done many times before in the Middle East and North Africa — remove a dictator. This is something that plays well with westerners, because they are generally of the opinion that dictatorships are bad, even when they happen to be in nations with governments that are slowly taking control of every aspect of their lives.

The problem is a cultural divide, and a failure of understanding. What cannot be comprehended is that while dictators are viewed as bad in western culture, they’re usually a necessary evil or even a good thing in regions where Islam has a strong foothold.

While it might be tempting to doubt that, consider how wonderfully things have gone in Iraq and Egypt, just to name two nations, since their respective “authoritarian albeit generally secular” leaders have been removed. Libya is facing similar issues.

Muammar Gaddafi was at best eccentric, at worst insane. Yes, he did involve himself in at least a few conspiracies to attack western powers, but when it came to dealing with Libya, he tended to keep the people from doing what they are now.

When he was in power, sectarian violence was kept under control, and if someone disagreed with Gaddafi, they were silenced. That doesn’t look anything like democracy, but democracy doesn’t look anything like what the people of that region have ever had, even in times when they have lived in relative peace.

You’ve been warned, America: Hillary Clinton has never met a war she didn’t like

A war weary American public may not be aware of what they’re in for if Hillary Clinton wins the 2016 presidential race. But Gene Healy, vice president of the Cato Institute and a columnist at the Washington Examiner, is shining some light on the former Secretary of State’s terrible foreign policy record.

Healy joined the Cato Daily Podcast on Wednesday to discuss Clinton’s approach to foreign affairs as it relates to her new book, Hard Choices, telling host Caleb Brown that she’s never met a war she didn’t like.

“[Clinton] has been getting a lot of questions about Iraq recently,” said Healy, “and that is as it should be, because her role in helping perpetuate the worst foreign policy disaster since Vietnam is certainly something that ought to be looked at in terms of her fitness for higher office.”

Clinton, he explains, was one of the most vocal cheerleaders for the war in Iraq, pointing to her comments from the floor of the Senate, in which she said parrotted talking points used by supporters to make the case for military intervention.

“She apparently says something very strange in the memoir. She says that, ‘I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had,’” Healy notes. “It’s pretty clear she didn’t. She gave a floor speech in 2002 explaining that ‘the facts are not in doubt.” And among those facts, Saddam Hussein’s robust nuclear program, the idea that he’d harbored al-Qaeda operatives.”

House Republicans move forward on Benghazi, analyzing testimony for contradictions

A group of House Republicans are reviewing testimony provided by witnesses who have testified in front of congressional committees looking into the 2012 attack on the American compound in Benghazi which claimed the lives of four Americans.

In an interview with United Liberty on Thursday afternoon, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, explained that he and several other House Republicans have been reviewing testimony from congressional witnesses to look for contradictory statements.

Westmoreland said that he went to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) approximately six weeks ago to get his blessing to form a group consisting of members of three key House committees — Oversight and Government Reform, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs. He wanted members with prosecutorial experience to build a potential case.

“We would look at the testimony, we would look at a list of witnesses that have testified in front of Government Oversight and Foreign Affairs,” Westmoreland told United Liberty. “And we would look at them, and we would look at their testimony and see if there [were] any contradictions in testimonies that may have been presented by somebody else at another committee.”

Boehner’s staff contacted Westmoreland two weeks later, offering staff support to assist the group as it reviews some 50,000 pages of testimony and interviews.

“[I]t’s a small group,” said Westmoreland. “We don’t want any big committee chairs, we wanted the average run-of-the-mill kind of guy that could look at this and not be on TV every night, or be doing interviews and trying to make a lot of gain out of it, because the American people, they want to know the truth, and that’s what we’re doing our best.”

Report on DOD Response to Benghazi Released by House subcommittee

After reviewing thousands of pages of a series of Benghazi-related documents, including classified emails and situation reports, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations released a summary of its members’ particular reviews regarding what is known of the circumstances surrounding the Benghazi attack and the Department of Defense’s response.

According to Think Progress, the Subcommittee concluded that “there was no way for the U.S. military to have responded in time to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya to save the four Americans killed that night,” but according to the report, “given the uncertainty about the prospective length and scope of the attack, military commanders did not take all possible steps to prepare for a more extended operation.”

In other words, what the Subcommittee concluded appears to sound nothing close to what Think Progress reported.

The White House, the Subcommittee found, failed to address a growing concern related to the deteriorating security situation in Libya, which created a particularly vulnerable situation for U.S. personnel stationed in Benghazi. The Subcommittee also found that the response of our military was “severely degraded because of the location and readiness posture of U.S. forces, and because of lack of clarity about how the terrorist action was unfolding.”

Syria May Prove America’s True Character

The situation in Syria has become something of a fascinating study in the distinction between the principles of politics versus the principles of morality; and, strange as it sounds, it may be the thing that reminds Americans who we are as a people and what we will - and will not - accept from humanity living outside our borders.

The seriousness of potential war — especially one tied to images of children dying while foaming at the mouth — has a not-so-funny way of shining a light on just how shallow ideological passion can be. The libertarians and the traditional liberals are adamant that we stay out of the conflict; the more progressive (those who support Obama and generally the anti-war crowd) Democrats and the neoconservative hawks seem to be aligned in thinking that we must defend the red line President Obama drew in the sand. (Although now he’s insisting it wasn’t his red line at all…).

In short, there seems to be no easy partisan divide on whether we act or shutter the windows and wait for the fall out. But if this makes you uncomfortable, David Freddoso has an excellent piece in yesterday’s Conservative Intelligence Briefing on why it shouldn’t:

It would be rather disappointing to see Democrats who typically oppose all wars vote in favor of this one just to save a president’s rear end.  It would be dispiriting to think (as many liberal pundits have suggested) that conservatives are only breaking against this war because Obama is president.

And sure, there’s probably some of that going on here, especially among the public — a great deal of partisanship out there, one might say. But in fact, both characterizations are misleading, especially when it comes to elected officials.

House members seek congressional authorization for Syria intervention

UPDATE: Rigell’s office now reports that 140 House members have signed the letter. An update copy of it can be found below. The story has been updated to reflect the current number of signatories.

Scores of members of the House of Representatives are urging President Barack Obama to seek congressional authorization for any military action that his administration plans to take in Syria.

The White House has said that President Obama will consult leaders in Congress about the planned air strikes against Bashar Assad’s regime, which is the administration’s response to the alleged use of chemical weapons against his own citizens. But that’s not enough for House members who note that a president is legally required to seek authorization from Congress before using force overseas.

“We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973,” wrote Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), who has circulated the letter to his colleagues in the House, gathering 140 signatories from members of both parties.

Rigell noted that the Founders gave the executive branch the power to take action during emergencies, but he pointed out that Syria doesn’t represent a direct threat to the security of the United States.

The Bigger Problem with Susan Rice

Much ado has been made over President Obama’s selection of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to serve as the next National Secrutiy Advisor because of her role in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya. But Benghazi is only a symptom of a larger problem with Susan Rice: she’s a hardcore interventionist.

Rice

Since her involvement in the Clinton Administration’s response to the Rwanda Genocide - during which she served on the National Security Council - Rice has never objected to an American intervention.

Now seen as a “voice for intervention,” Rice was quoted in the aftermath of Rwanda::

“I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”

Eh, excuse me: Going down in flames?

What’s also concerning is that Susan Rice has viewed foreign policy as an extension of politics; in 1994, she is quoted as saying, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?”

Benghazi Whistleblowers: Troops Could Have Intervened

We’re learning more about what did and didn’t happened during the attack on the consulate in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four American citizens, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. According to a military special operator who spoke to Fox News, military support could have been on the ground at the consulate before the second attack.

“I know for a fact that C-110 CIF was doing a training exercise in the region of Northern Africa but in Europe. They had the ability to react and respond,” the unidentified special operator turned whistleblower told Fox News. “They would have been there before the second attack. They would have been there at a minimum to provide a quick reaction force that could facilitate their exfil out of the problem situation. Nobody knew how it was going to develop, and you hear a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of advisors say hey, we wouldn’t have sent them there because the security was unknown situation.”

“If it’s an unknown situation, at a minimum you send forces there to facilitate the exfil or medical injuries,” he added. “We could have sent a C-130 to Benghazi to provide medical evacuation for the injured.”


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