Email: Clinton hoped for ‘soft landing’ after bringing Obama around on Libya

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Hillary Clinton won praise from underlings for “turning POTUS around” on U.S. intervention in Libya, according to emails from the latest batch released from Clinton’s private server.

The email to then-Secretary of State Clinton was sent by Anne-Marie Slaughter, who had served as Clinton’s director of policy planning.

Hillary Clinton poses with Libyan militants in October of 2011, shortly after the overthrow of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
Hillary Clinton poses with Libyan militants in October 2011, shortly after the overthrow of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

“I cannot imagine how exhausted you must be after this week, but I have NEVER been prouder of having worked for you,” Slaughter wrote in the March 19, 2011 email, which carried the subject line “bravo!”

“Turning POTUS around on this is a major win for everything we have worked for,” Slaughter added.

In her reply, Clinton wrote: “Keep your fingers crossed and pray for a soft landing for everyone’s sake.”

Analysts say Slaughter’s email reinforces the view that Clinton persuaded a reluctant President Barack Obama to change course on Libya.

By October 2011, Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi was dead and Libya collapsed into chaos that continues to the present day. A Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi cost the lives of lives of the U.S. ambassador, a foreign service officer and two Navy Seals.

During an October 2015 congressional hearing on the Benghazi attack, Clinton was asked by Rep. Peter Roskam, Illinois Republican, about the role she played in the decision to take military action in Libya in March 2011.

“There were senior voices within the White House that were opposed to military action – Vice President [Joe] Biden, Department of Defense, [Defense] Secretary [Bob] Gates, the National Security Council and so forth,” Roskam said. “But you persuaded President Obama to intervene militarily. Isn’t that right?”

Clinton said there were “many in the State Department” who believed intervention to protect the Libyan people was in America’s interests, but that amid varying opinions, “at the end of the day, this was the president’s decision.”

Slaughter pushed for military intervention in a New York Times op-ed she penned days before a UN Security Council vote authorizing intervention.

“We have a chance to support a real new beginning in the Muslim world – a new beginning of accountable governments that can provide services and opportunities for their citizens in ways that could dramatically decrease support for terrorist groups and violent extremism,” Slaughter wrote.

In response to the argument that it was not known what a post-Gadhafi Libya would look like, Slaughter said the U.S. “should not expect a rosy, Jeffersonian Libya.”

“But the choice is between uncertainty and the certainty that if (Gadhafi) wins, regimes across the region will conclude that force is the way to answer protests,” she said.

“And when (Gadhafi) massacres the opposition, young protesters across the Middle East will conclude that when we were asked to support their cause with more than words, we blinked,” Slaughter continued. “Americans in turn will read the words of Mr. Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo, with its lofty promises to stand for universal human rights, and cringe.”