Clinton Drove Obama Shift on Libya
Secretary of State secured Arab buy-in, convinced prez to act
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2011 8:52 AM CDT
President Barack Obama makes a statement on Libya with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the White House in Washington, DC, February 23, 2011.   (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – President Obama came late to the decision to authorize military force against Libya, but he did so based on the counsel and efforts of Hillary Clinton, reports the New York Times. The secretary of state was herself against intervention until she secured buy-in from Arab nations; she then joined a small cadre of administration advisers calling for action, and within hours had convinced her boss to act. Clinton “had the proof,” a top adviser says, “that not only was the Arab League in favor, but that the Emirates were serious about participating.”

That buy-in assuaged one of Robert Gates' major concerns about using military force, and put the US in a much stronger position. Another voice advocating action was Susan Rice, an Africa adviser to President Clinton when the United States sat on its hands during the Rwandan genocide—a move Clinton has called his "biggest regret." “Hillary and Susan Rice were key parts of this story because Hillary got the Arab buy-in and Susan worked the UN to get a 10-to-5 vote, which is no easy thing,” says a national security expert.