Obama Official Still Defends Doctrine That Led to Disastrous Libya Strikes
Former Obama administration official Anne-Marie Slaughter defended the “responsibility to protect” doctrine—and the military intervention in Libya it led to—at a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
She also claimed to have spoken out against the intervention in Libya when it went too far, although she was a vocal supporter of the U.S.-led war effort at its beginning and end.
Slaughter, a longtime proponent of the idea that states have a duty to stop crimes against humanity in other states by force, served as director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department from 2009 to 2011. Soon after leaving office, she publicly pushed the Obama administration to intervene to protect Libyan civilians amid an ongoing uprising.
President Barack Obama cited Slaughter’s doctrine as a reason to launch military strikes against Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi in March 2011. After Gadhafi was ousted, Libya fell under the rule of armed militias, eventually resulting in the Second Libyan Civil War, which killed thousands of Libyans and was ongoing until last October.
Slaughter doubled down on her support for humanitarian intervention on Wednesday while addressing the House Foreign Affairs Committee alongside several other veteran diplomats.
“It’s a doctrine that’s going to evolve a great deal over this century. I think it is the right doctrine, but it can easily be used in the wrong ways,” she said.
Slaughter added that “one of the lessons” of the past few years has been “that we need intervention much further upstream” to prevent armed conflict.
She was responding to a question by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) about the effects of humanitarian intervention.
“For a long time, you have been one of the most vocal champions of the ‘responsibility to protect’ doctrine and so-called humanitarian intervention,” Omar said. “I am under no illusion about the Taliban or Gadhafi or [Iraqi dictator] Saddam Hussein. But I am also under no illusion about how those countries look today.”
“Maybe there was a sense
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