Hillary Clinton: No Intervention In Syria Because They’re Only Shooting People, Not Bombing Them

The rhetorical legerdemain that members of the Obama Administration have been using to justify the nation’s intervention in Libya was on full display this morning when Hillary Clinton dismissed the idea of a Libya-like intervention in Syria using some of the most tortured logic ever:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. won’t enter into the internal conflict in Syria the way it has in Libya.

“No,” Clinton said, when asked on the CBS “Face the Nation” program if the U.S. would intervene in Syria’s unrest. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s security forces clashed with protesters in several cities yesterday after his promises of freedoms and pay increases failed to prevent dissent from spreading across the country.

Clinton said the elements that led to intervention in Libya — international condemnation, an Arab League call for action, a United Nations Security Council resolution — are “not going to happen” with Syria, in part because members of the U.S. Congress from both parties say they believe Assad is “a reformer.”

“What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities,” Clinton said, referring to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s attacks on the Libyan people, “than police actions which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”

Now, as I said earlier, I think the idea of intervening in Syria is exceedingly stupid, but making distinctions like this demonstrates just how intellectually bankrupt the Administration’s foreign policy really is when it comes to the so-called “Responsibility To Protect” doctrine. If Libyan civilians deserve protection from their government, then why not Syrians, or Baharanis, or Yemenis, or residents of the Ivory Coast. That’s the biggest problem with this policy; taken to its logical conclusion, it leads to endless war. Since that would be politically unpalatable, we end up with tortured logic like this and the absurd suggestion that Bashar Assad is a “reformer,” something we were saying about Gaddafi himself just a few months ago.


FILED UNDER: Middle East, US Politics, World Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. john personna says:

    Again, I think I gave you adequate explanation days ago, when I said western powers saw weakness in an old enemy, and so, decided to get some licks in.

    It is an ancient formula.

    If Syria had been as much an enemy to European and other Western powers as Libya, and we weren’t too busy, then yeah. You might see something.

    I think you have to be foolish to be following anyone’s window-dressing. Particularly here in the US, when other nations drove and proposed to lead the mission.

  2. Of course, Syria has been a far more active sponsor of terrorism than Libya and has spent the last 20 years or so using its puppets to run Libya. But, yea, some crazy desert rat deserves to get bombed but the Assad family, which murdered tens of thousands of people in Hama in 1982, is now led by a “reformer”

    The idiocy of Clinton’s comments are apparent.

  3. DMan says:

    “That’s the biggest problem with this policy; taken to its logical conclusion, it leads to endless war. ”

    This is only true if you’re making the leaps in logic you’re so willing to do. You’re assuming the administration and the international coalition aren’t factoring in the feasibility of going to war in each country. Your logic seems to be that people shouldn’t pick and choose their battles unless they’re willing to go to battle everywhere, isn’t that an illogical stance given limited resources to do so?

  4. glasnost says:

    What Dman said. We obviously can’t do this everywhere. So we’re not going to. We’re going to be hypocritical. We’re going to tolerate the same behavior in some places and not in others We don’t have the money or the political will to do better. That’s not an effective or sensible critique of the president or his foreign policy team. It’s much like people that want to further good causes in any other arena. You can never do everything. You do what you can, especially if you can get an above average-ROI.

    We’re not intervening in Syria b/c the Gaddafi regime lost a lot more control all on its own than the Syrians have. We’re not intervening in Syria b/c Iraq is next door and Hizballah is on the other side. We’re not intervening in Syria b/c doing so could set off a powder keg over about five or six countries. We’re not intervening in Syria because we’re already intervening in Libya.

    There about about 10 more good reasons. Jesus Christ, can’t you figure this out on your own?

  5. Brian says:

    This Obama Administration is very anti-torture except when it comes to Logic. When it comes to Logic, it seems to have been stripped down, stacked in a gay pyramid and had it’s genitals hooked up to a car battery.

  6. Dave says:

    I’m with DMan; we shouldn’t hold our foreign policy to some half-baked moral logic that hypocrisy is always and totally inherently bad. The whole “if we go to war here we have to go to war everywhere” line has as much sophistication as some hippy’s “fighting for peace is like f***ing for virginity” bumper sticker. I’m glad we have a president who gives more credence to Reinhold Niebuhr than some smelly kid from Berkeley holding up a cardboard sign.

  7. john personna says:

    Doug, as bad as Syria has been, they just aren’t an “enemy” in the same emotional sense.

    This is not a rational war. Luckily, it isn’t totally “ours.”

  8. AllenS says:

    “using some of the most tortured logic ever”

    Ain’t that the truth.