The Corner

The New York Times Paints a Devastating Picture of Hillary Clinton’s Foreign-Policy Incompetence

While the eyes of the media world are transfixed on the Republican primary, the New York Times just unloaded a comprehensive, thoroughly researched two-part report on America’s Libya debacle that exposes Hillary Clinton’s staggering incompetence. While it’s impossible for a blog post to adequately summarize thousands of words of narrative, here are some key takeaways:

1. In spite of more than a decade of bitter experience with tribal divisions, charlatan foreign politicians, and the persistence of jihadist ideology, Clinton is remarkably gullible. The report describes her attempts to vet Libyan opposition leaders prior to pushing hard for Libyan intervention, and it’s as if she learned absolutely nothing from Iraq. She was swayed by opposition politicians who said all the right things and answered her questions skillfully but had absolutely zero real-world power to deliver. It’s almost as if the principal lesson she learned from the transitional government in Iraq was that it failed because she wasn’t the talent scout.

2. If she did learn any lessons from Iraq, they were the wrong lessons. After the failures and missteps of the early Iraqi occupation, George W. Bush learned that stability required more American investment, not less. You simply cannot topple a dictator and then create a functioning society easily, quickly, or cheaply. Indeed, you’re far more likely to create a terrorist playground. Clinton seemed to believe that stability requires just enough American involvement to topple the dictator, then so little involvement in the aftermath that jihadists have free reign.

3. In a two-year span, she committed the unholy trinity of foreign-policy mistakes. She presided over the disastrous American pullout from Iraq, tipped the scales in favor of the disastrous American military intervention in Libya, and then advocated for an American army-and-supply effort in Syria that we now know would have suffered from the exact flaws of her first two failures — namely, placing American national-security interests in the hands of utterly inadequate and poorly vetted local “allies” as a form of bargain-basement interventionism.

4. Moreover, we’re still learning the true dimensions of the Libya debacle. Weapons from the old Libyan military are helping fuel jihad throughout the region, thousands of man-portable surface-to-air missiles have simply vanished, and ISIS has now established essentially a secondary capital in Libya — a short distance from European shores.

While the ultimate responsibility for Libya rests with President Obama, the Times makes it clear that Clinton may well have exercised the decisive influence towards going to war, tipping the scales in a “51–49″ decision. If that’s her key moment as secretary of state — the point where she exercised maximum influence — then her legacy is one of ruinous failure. But don’t just take my word for it. Read the entire Times report — and prepare to be appalled.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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