Hillary Clinton’s Failed Libya ‘Doctrine’

From the Archive: As the long-running Benghazi investigation returns to center stage with another round of Hillary Clinton’s testimony, the former Secretary of State’s larger failure remains obscured how she once envisioned the bloody Libyan “regime change” as the start of a “Clinton Doctrine,” as Robert Parry reported last July.

By Robert Parry (Originally published on July 1, 2015)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fancied the violent 2011 “regime change” in Libya such a triumph that her aides discussed labeling it the start of a “Clinton Doctrine,” according to released emails that urged her to claim credit when longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was deposed. And Clinton did celebrate when Gaddafi was captured and murdered.

“We came; we saw; he died,” Clinton exulted in a TV interview after receiving word of Gaddafi’s death on Oct. 20, 2011, though it is not clear how much she knew about the grisly details, such as Gaddafi being sodomized with a knife before his execution.

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.

Since then, the cascading Libyan chaos has turned the “regime change” from a positive notch on Clinton’s belt and into a black mark on her record. That violence has included the terrorist slaying of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, and jihadist killings across northern Africa, including the Islamic State’s decapitation of a group of Coptic Christians last February.

It turns out that Gaddafi’s warning about the need to crush Islamic terrorism in Libya’s east was well-founded although the Obama administration cited it as the pretext to justify its “humanitarian intervention” against Gaddafi. The vacuum created by the U.S.-led destruction of Gaddafi and his army drew in even more terrorists and extremists, forcing the United States and Western nations to abandon their embassies in Tripoli a year ago.

One could argue that those who devised and implemented the disastrous Libyan “regime change” the likes of Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power should be almost disqualified from playing any future role in U.S. foreign policy. Instead, Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner to succeed Barack Obama as President and Power was promoted from Obama’s White House staff to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, where she is at the center of other dangerous U.S. initiatives in seeking “regime change” in Syria and pulling off “regime change” in Ukraine.

In fairness, however, it should be noted that it has been the pattern in Official Washington over the past few decades for hawkish “regime change” advocates to fail upwards. With only a few exceptions, the government architects and the media promoters of the catastrophic Iraq War have escaped meaningful accountability and continue to be leading voices in setting U.S. foreign policy.

A Dubious Validation

In August 2011, Secretary of State Clinton saw the Libyan “regime change” as a resounding validation of her foreign policy credentials, according to the emails released in June and described at the end of a New York Times article by Michael S. Schmidt.

According to one email chain, her longtime friend and personal adviser Sidney Blumenthal praised the military success of the bombing campaign to destroy Gaddafi’s army and hailed the dictator’s impending ouster.

“First, brava! This is a historic moment and you will be credited for realizing it,” Blumenthal wrote on Aug. 22, 2011. “When Qaddafi himself is finally removed, you should of course make a public statement before the cameras wherever you are, even in the driveway of your vacation home. You must go on camera. You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment. The most important phrase is: ‘successful strategy.’”

Clinton forwarded Blumenthal’s advice to Jake Sullivan, a close State Department aide. “Pls read below,” she wrote. “Sid makes a good case for what I should say, but it’s premised on being said after Q[addafi] goes, which will make it more dramatic. That’s my hesitancy, since I’m not sure how many chances I’ll get.”

Sullivan responded, saying “it might make sense for you to do an op-ed to run right after he falls, making this point. You can reinforce the op-ed in all your appearances, but it makes sense to lay down something definitive, almost like the Clinton Doctrine.”

However, when Gaddafi abandoned Tripoli that day, President Obama seized the moment to make a triumphant announcement. Clinton’s opportunity to highlight her joy at the Libyan “regime change” had to wait until Oct. 20, 2011, when Gaddafi was captured, tortured and murdered.

In a TV interview, Clinton celebrated the news when it appeared on her cell phone and even paraphrased Julius Caesar’s famous line after Roman forces achieved a resounding victory in 46 B.C. and he declared, “veni, vidi, vici” “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Clinton’s reprise of Caesar’s boast went: “We came; we saw; he died.” She then laughed and clapped her hands.

Presumably, the “Clinton Doctrine” would have been a policy of “liberal interventionism” to achieve “regime change” in countries where there is some crisis in which the leader seeks to put down an internal security threat and where the United States objects to the action.

Of course, the Clinton Doctrine would be selective. It would not apply to brutal security crackdowns by U.S.-favored governments, say, Israel attacking Gaza or the Kiev regime in Ukraine slaughtering ethnic Russians in the east. But it’s likely, given the continuing bloodshed in Libya, that Hillary Clinton won’t be touting the “Clinton Doctrine” in her presidential campaign.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

16 comments for “Hillary Clinton’s Failed Libya ‘Doctrine’

  1. William
    October 31, 2015 at 11:57

    FEMINIST Hillary Clinton showed us her “COMMON SENSE GUN CONTROL” in Benghazi when SHE armed barbarians with modern weapons far more powerful than what is available in America. HILLARY gave GUNS (rockets, explosives, machineguns) to RAPISTS of WOMEN and CHILDREN.

  2. dahoit
    October 24, 2015 at 18:08

    How this person could be considered the frontrunner(MSM)in American politics with a track record of deceit,failure and corruption decades long is unbelievable.
    She is a real,live evil woman.The dead from her misadventures and support of such is millions and counting.
    She will be a new American nightmare,a total slave of Zion and the MIC,ready to blow up Iranians,Lebanese,and anyone else we’ve missed.

  3. richo
    October 23, 2015 at 18:35

    ” The information is out there, all you got to do is let it in”

    The kidnaping of ambassador Stephen was set up by the administration, as part of the then-current election champaign, in order to make it look like the current administration was the good guys.

    When the wrong people kidnaped Stephen, and the plot went wrong, all hell broke loose.

    ” The information is out there, all you got to do is let it in”

  4. October 22, 2015 at 21:24

    There was one thing that the Republican majority on the grilling of Hillary Clinton was desperate to learn about – i.e., was she still willing to confirm what she wrote in Hard Choices that one of the few things she did in the immediate aftermath of the massacre was to call DCI David Petraeus?

    She never testified that she had done so, and she never admitted it when she was questioned about it in recounting the timeline of her behavior, especially by that female, Republican Representative from Alabama.

    If Hillary had done so, particularly stating that the DCI said that it was a one-off that she need not worry about, all hell would have broken out, but she deliberately avoided saying anything.

    As a result, the last embers of the latest planned ‘October Surprise’ by Mitt Romney, Israel, and the Agency leadership simply fizzled out.

  5. October 22, 2015 at 14:43

    Can anything be more partisan than the Committee examining Hillary Clinton with a partisan, recorded vote on whether to make the transcript about Sidney Blumenthal’s communications with her a matter of record.

    Still waiting for some indication of the CIA’s security contribution to stemming the slaughter but don’t recall having heard anything about it yet.

    All we know is that the Pentagon had no troops there, and the State Department had only a limited capability.

    In Hillary’s account, Hard Choices, she wrote: “I also called CIA Director David Petraeus since the Agency maintained the nearly post with a heavy security force.” (End of recorded quoted, p. 392.)

    What was said, and what was agreed to, if anything, is anyone’s guess.

    I suspect it was not at all favorable to Petraeus and the Agency, and Hillary left it out to belatedly protect them.

    So much for anymore showing any kind of forbearance when all the verbal bullets are flying around!

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 22, 2015 at 15:08

      Trowbridge, you are right, its not what they are saying at the Benghazi hearing, its what they are not saying. Hillary supporters will no doubt be thrilled with her presidential form, which is on display here at these hearings. People who don’t like Hillary, will just continue to have another reason not to like her, so life goes on. So far, as I am watching these hearings on c-span, Hillary seems to be holding herself together, as a good Clinton will do. This hearing is probably more important than Hillary’s appearance was on the CNN debates. The spin from each side, will be enough to drive a respectable news junky crazy, so what else is new. In the end the world will learn nothing of what really, was going on inside that compound in Benghazi. We also know that David Petraeus must be considered off limits, and there in lies the problem, of us ever getting the real truth to what happened in Benghazi.

      • October 22, 2015 at 17:18

        You are so right, Joe, especially about Petraeus and the Agency being off limits.

        Hillary never even mentioned Petraeus’s forced resignation.

        Sometime before it even happened, we are told that John Brennan, Obama’s former NSA, and DDCI, had taken over as DCI.

        Then. after Petraeus is gone, she still has him advising her.

        And I have learned to see that Hillary has become a better person since Bubba and she had their holder of OMB and Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, DCI George Tenet et al. try to kill me for making noise about their entertaining Nixon, Haig and Helms at the WH, and Panetta was still trying as soon as he became Obama’s DCI.

        When trying to help stabilize Washington’s madhouse, one should not get hung up on such minor details.

  6. Joe L.
    October 22, 2015 at 12:34

    Ever since I heard Hillary Clinton exclaim, “We came; we saw; he died – ha, ha, ha, ha”, I thought of her as a true sociopath which frightening as hell considering her political life and possible future Presidency. Much of the US government scares me…

    • Mortimer
      October 22, 2015 at 13:02

      I agree 110%, Joe L.

      Lanny Davis’ responce to the callers impassioned statement was far off the mark. –
      He gave boiler plate “talking points.”


      • Joe L.
        October 22, 2015 at 14:14

        Mortimer… Thank you for the article. I actually already knew about Libya’s standard of living before we bombed the hell out of them and created another failed state, as I think we will see if Assad falls in Syria. This is why I find it disturbing how some people are so against taking in some of the refugees when I believe that we, I am Canadian, played a major role in destroying countries in the region. I personally believe that if we think that we can drop bombs in other countries for 14 years then we should take responsibility for the aftermath. I believe that our new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has said that Canada will take in 25,000 refugees, which is a drop in the bucket. When it comes to the whole “refugee crisis” happening in Europe and the Middle East I believe that Ben Swann actually broke it down quite well for “Reality Check” on CBS News:


        Frankly I am saddened and sickened about what “we” have done in this region of the world and maybe even more disgusted by the lack of empathy by the majority of our citizens. Why are we so incapable of “walking in someone else’s shoes”?

  7. October 22, 2015 at 11:21

    A year is a long times in politics today, and it certainly was the case in Libya between the brutal ouster of Gaddafi and the Banghazi slayings a year later.

    This was when the presidential campaign was in full swing, and the CIA under DCI General David Petraeus tried to arrange a fiasco which would help Republican candidate Mitt Romney and israel, and would destroy Obama’s re-election chances.

    Obama reacted by mobilizing new voters to his cause, and he forced Petraeus’ resignation, once the election returns came in.

    This covert dispute was the cause for the continuing overuse of secrecy, so to go along with the vile Clinton Doctrine, you should add the incredible Republican Betrayal.

    • dahoit
      October 24, 2015 at 18:01

      All Obomba defenders to the front line suicide squad,immediately.

  8. Mortimer
    October 22, 2015 at 11:01

    A caller into today’s Washington Journal posed a question to Hillary defender, Lanny Davis, who appeared in regard to the ongoing House Benghazi spectacle.
    This caller had a clearly unique perspective on the subject; his question invoked the hypocrisy of the investigation in light of the fact that a once stable nation is now in utter chaos.

    Mr. Davis’ reply, IMO, said almost Nothing about the anarchy, death and/or the boat loads of human beings crossing the Mediterranean from the shores of Tripoly to the Greek coast.
    In other words, this avoidable catastrophic humanitarian nightmare is simply the cost of “doing America’s business.”

    (Move the time bar forward to 1:51:55) — question and reply a bit over two minutes… .

    • Mortimer
      October 22, 2015 at 11:13
    • Dosamuno
      October 27, 2015 at 17:04

      I couldn’t agree with you more.

      The U.S. government is merely a tool of The Chamber of Commerce.

      The State Department is its imperial management division.

      Hillary and Bill Clinton are ideal front people for the merchants and charlatans that own the U.S. economy. They are facile liars who would say and do anything for money—and have. Obama is just as vile.

      I actually respect Republicans more than Democrats. As least they more often do what they promise and serve their constituency. Every Democratic President since and including Carter has been a lying piece of garbage. Johnson made some important changes domestically, but may have murdered millions of people in southeast Asia. Is anyone OK with that?

      Lanny Davis is an obsequious courtesan.

  9. Joe Tedesky
    October 22, 2015 at 09:45

    Although, much should be done over Hillary’s using a private server, much more attention should be paid to what is said within her e-mails. Then again, remember when Feinstein exposed the CIA torture report? Remember, how justice was not served? Tell me, is there a dark hole in D.C. where all of this sort of stuff goes?

Comments are closed.