For Clinton, Faded Hopes and Failures in Libya

The Takeaway

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Perhaps the most influential decisions of Hillary Clinton's tenure in the State Department came in 2011 and 2012, as the Arab Spring spread to Libya. As secretary of state, Clinton helped convince President Obama that the U.S. had to get involved.

According to reporting by Scott Shane, national security reporter for Takeaway partner The New York Times, Clinton was a deciding factor in the president's decision to intervene. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Shane and his co-author Jo Becker, "I’ve always thought that Hillary’s support for the broader mission in Libya put the president on the 51 side of the line for a more aggressive approach."

By July 2012, the mission seemed a success: Libyan forces had ousted Muammar el-Qaddafi, and the country held its first democratic elections that month. As Clinton noted at the time, "After more than four decades of authoritarian rule, men and women from every corner of Libya are beginning to determine their own future and it will be the will of the people, not the whim of a dictator."

Today the country has devolved into tribal factions and has become a training ground for the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Shane examines the decisions leading up to the Libyan intervention, the state of the country today, and what Clinton's actions might portend for her foreign policy should she win the Democratic nomination and the presidency. 

What you'll learn from this segment:

  • Why Clinton wanted to intervene in Libya and how she influenced Obama. 
  • Why Libyan leaders have failed to unify the country.
  • What the situation in Libya says about her foreign policy outlook.