As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton played a key role in persuading President Obama to intervene in Libya—a move that helped turn the country into a war-torn, terrorist haven, the New York Times reports in two long articles based on interviews with more than 50 domestic and foreign officials. Former Libyan leader Muammar el-Gadhafi was about to crush an uprising in 2011 when Clinton, seeing Libya as a future democracy, broke with Obama's senior advisors (like Joe Biden and Robert Gates) and said the US should intervene with Britain and France; Gates later said Clinton's appeal swayed Obama. When the intervention dragged on, she pressed successfully for Washington to arm rebel militias. "Her view is, we can’t fail in this," says Dennis Ross, then a National Security Council expert on the Middle East. "Once we have made a decision, we can’t fail."
When Clinton learned of Gadhafi's killing, she said, "Wow! We came, we saw, he died!" But the fractured Libyan government that followed couldn't negotiate with the US, make peace with rebel fighters, or secure Ghadhafi's weapons stashes (one reportedly contained 20,000 shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles). The killing of US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens only highlighted the country's instability. With the administration re-focusing on Syria and domestic issues, Clinton pressed for deeper engagement in Libya—but a chastened Obama denied her. Libya today has two competing governments, ruined cities, over 4,000 dead, and a vital ISIS outpost, yet Clinton continues her aggressive international approach by calling for a no-fly zone in Syria. "We have learned the hard way when America is absent, especially from unstable places, there are consequences," she says. Click to see the Times' articles here and here. (Read more Libya stories.)