But the European pillar of this community of democracies has never been more under assault — so much so that for the first time I wonder if this European pillar will actually crumble.
From Italy you can see all the lines of attack: Donald Trump coming from the West, Vladimir Putin from the East and environmental and political disorder from the south — from Africa and the Middle East, where the reckless 2011 French-British-U.S. decision to topple Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and not stay on to help build a new order in his place, now haunts Italy.
Toppling Qaddafi without building a new order may go down as the single dumbest action the NATO alliance ever took.
It took the lid off Africa, leading to some 600,000 asylum seekers and illegal migrants flocking to Italy’s shores in recent years, with 300,000 staying there and the rest filtering into other E.U. countries. This has created wrangles within the bloc over who should absorb how many migrants and has spawned nationalist-populist backlashes in almost every E.U. country.
“It was a grisly start to the new era for Libya, broadcast around the world. The dictator was dragged from the sewer pipe where he was hiding, tossed around by frenzied rebel soldiers, beaten bloody and sodomized with a bayonet. A shaky cellphone video showed the pocked face of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, “the Leader” who had terrified Libyans for four decades, looking frightened and bewildered. He would soon be dead.The first news reports of Colonel Qaddafi’s capture and killing in October 2011 reached the secretary of state in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she had just sat down for a televised interview. “Wow!” she said, looking at an aide’s BlackBerry before cautiously noting that the report had not yet been confirmed. But Hillary Clinton seemed impatient for a conclusion to the multinational military intervention she had done so much to organize, and in a rare unguarded moment, she dropped her reserve.“We came, we saw, he died!” she exclaimed.Two days before, Mrs. Clinton had taken a triumphal tour of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and for weeks top aides had been circulating a “ticktock” that described her starring role in the events that had led to this moment. The timeline, her top policy aide, Jake Sullivan, wrote, demonstrated Mrs. Clinton’s “leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country’s Libya policy from start to finish.” The memo’s language put her at the center of everything: “HRC announces … HRC directs … HRC travels … HRC engages,” it read.”
The Libya Gamble, Part One and Part Two, takes several hours to read. Magnificent reporting by SCOTT SHANE and JO BECKER. By the end of Part Two, you have learned that the Lead from Behind strategy in Libya was championed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Then the Europeans and the dispersed Libyan leadership failed to deliver, while our own ally Qatar armed and financed pro ISIS factions in that hotbed of militias. With friends like that, who needs enemies. Obama says that not picking up the slack in Libya, which was advocated by Clinton, was one of his great foreign policy mistakes. I wonder if military intervention at this late date could reset the failed state? A successful intervention would cripple the Republicans in the upcoming presidential election, by removing one of their only valid criticisms of President Obama and his foreign policy team.
“By the time Mahmoud Jibril cleared customs at Le Bourget airport and sped into Paris, the American secretary of state had been waiting for hours. But this was not a meeting Hillary Clinton could cancel. Their encounter could decide whether America was again going to war.In the throes of the Arab Spring, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was facing a furious revolt by Libyans determined to end his quixotic 42-year rule. The dictator’s forces were approaching Benghazi, the crucible of the rebellion, and threatening a blood bath. France and Britain were urging the United States to join them in a military campaign to halt Colonel Qaddafi’s troops, and now the Arab League, too, was calling for action.President Obama was deeply wary of another military venture in a Muslim country. Most of his senior advisers were telling him to stay out. Still, he dispatched Mrs. Clinton to sound out Mr. Jibril, a leader of the Libyan opposition. Their late-night meeting on March 14, 2011, would be the first chance for a top American official to get a sense of whom, exactly, the United States was being asked to support.In her suite at the Westin, she and Mr. Jibril, a political scientist with a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, spoke at length about the fast-moving military situation in Libya. But Mrs. Clinton was clearly also thinking about Iraq, and its hard lessons for American intervention.”
Protect us from the zombies. Great piece by Gail Collins.
And then there’s Ronald Reagan’s 1983 Beirut Benghazi for comparison:
On October 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a truckload of explosives through a lightly fortified plywood fence, past two marine guards with no bullets in their rifles at the Beirut marine barracks, and killed 241 sleeping American soldiers.
It was the deadliest day for the Marine Corps since Iwo Jima.
Ignoring earlier protests by Congressional Democrats and his own Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, President Reagan had sent the marines to protect Beirut’s airport during the Lebanon civil war.
Citing the earlier April 1983 US embassy bombing in Beirut, where 63 people died including 17 Americans, Weinberger and Congressional Democrats had argued that Reagan’s plans for deploying additional marines to Beirut would make the American soldiers “sitting ducks.”
The day after the Beirut ‘Benghazi’, House Speaker Tip O’Neill told Congressional Democrats that “it was their duty, now, not to criticize but to support their President and to do nothing to undermine him no matter what the political advantage.”
O’Neill told them that it was time for “patriotism over partisanship.”
Reagan’s own Defense Department investigation blamed the White House for the tragedy and the Democratic House held a short non-partisan hearing and recommended improved security.
Today’s GOP ‘Benghazi’ investigation is nothing less than the Republican National Convention.
Party First: Country Last: GOP 2015