‘The decision was the president’s: Hillary Clinton blames Obama for Libya, Syria

Special to WorldTribune.com

Although she heavily pressed a reluctant President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton said the president is ultimately at fault for the Libya fiasco.

The former secretary of state and current Democratic candidate for president also threw Obama under the bus for failures in Syria that happened on her watch at the State Department.

Hillary Clinton (L) listens to Senator Bernie Sanders speak during a Democratic debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14. /Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Hillary Clinton listens to Sen. Bernie Sanders speak during a Democratic debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York on April 14. /Lucas Jackson/Reuters

When Democratic foe Sen. Bernie Sanders, in a debate on April 14, criticized Clinton for spearheading the push to overthrow Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Clinton defended her actions and said Obama, not she, ultimately made the call to intervene.

“The decision was the president’s. Did I do the due diligence? Did I talk to everybody I could talk to? Did I visit every capitol and then report back to the president? … Yes, I did. That’s what a secretary of state does. But at the end of the day, those are the decisions that are made by the president to in any way use American military power, and the president made that decision and, yes, we did try without success because of the Libyans’ obstruction to our efforts, but we did try and we will continue to try to help the Libyan people.”

Sanders, who voted in favor of the intervention, reiterated his criticism of Clinton’s judgment:

“But that is very different from getting actively involved to overthrow and bring about regime change without fully understanding what the consequence of that regime change would be,” he said. “Second of all, I know you keep referring to Barack Obama all night here, but you in Syria, you in Syria talked about a no-fly zone, which the president certainly does not support, nor do I support because, a) it will cost an enormous sum of money, [and] second of all, it risks getting us sucked into perpetual warfare in that region.”

Clinton responded: “Yes, when I was secretary of state, I did urge along with the Department of Defense and the CIA that we seek out, vet and train and arm Syrian opposition figures so that they could defend themselves against Assad. The president said no. Now, that’s how it works. People who work for the president make recommendations and then the president makes the decision.

“So I think it’s only fair to look at where we are in Syria today and, yes, I do still support a no-fly zone because I think we need to put in safe havens for those poor Syrians who are fleeing both Assad and ISIL and so they have some place they can be safe.”

In another shot at Obama, Clinton had said earlier that “nobody stood up to Assad and removed him, and we have had a far greater disaster in Syria than we are currently dealing with right now in Libya.”