Hillary Clinton: U.S. “Must” Consider Military Action In Libya

And, so it begins. Now that Americans have, for the most part, been evacuated from Libya, there’s been a noticeable uptick in the rhetoric coming out of Washington, and it reached a new level this afternoon with comments from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

The United States must consider military action in Libya if Muammar Qadhafi’s regime keeps killing people, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday.

“We know that this violence must end,” Clinton said in an interview with the BBC. “And if we can take action that would expedite its end, we have to consider that.”

This comment comes amid a host of other reports. Including, a report this morning that the U.S. and NATO were discussion the possibility of a no-fly zone over Libya. Later in the day, British Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament that the U.K. was working on a plan for a no-fly zone. Finally, the BBC reports that the United States is repositioning Naval forces in the area to bring them closer to Libya.

So, both rhetorically and tactically, moves are being made that would lead one to think that military action of some kind is coming. Whether that’s the right thing to do is something nobody seems to be considering.

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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. Tony says:

    I was staggered to read of the positioning by Senators McCain and Lieberman on this issue. Startling half-baked, dangerous ideas.

  2. Terrye says:

    There is also news that Gaddafi gave the orders to shoot down Pan Am 103 and killed all those people, but I guess that is just no big deal is it?

    In fact it was because of the invasion of Iraq that Gaddafi gave up his nuclear program and many of his chemical weapons. Imagine Gaddafi with those kinds of weapons today.

    I have not heard anything out of the Obama administration that sounds aggressive or reckless. Maybe some people think we need to just ignore the situation, but I don’t think that is possible in this part of the world.

  3. Tony says:

    “In fact it was because of the invasion of Iraq that Gaddafi gave up his nuclear program and many of his chemical weapons.”

    I supported the invasion of Iraq, but I’ve seen no concrete evidence that this was, in fact, the case. The negotiations leading up to Libya giving up any nuke ambitions were very long and included an enormous bag full of carrots. I’m not saying (because I don’t know) that Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with it, but I keep hearing the situation set out as simple cause and effect with Iraq scaring Gaddafi into mending his ways and I don’t see any evidence for it.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    Let’s do it right this time . . .

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    Proof positive of the problem with amateur Secretaries of State.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    I just googled the first graf quoted in the post and I don’t see it anywhere except here and Politico. Is there a hard news source for a Clinton statement to the effect that we must consider military action?

  7. michael reynolds says:

    Looking around quickly — subject to correction — all I’m seeing is the standard not ruling out any option language. We use that boilerplate language for Iceland.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    Guys, this headline is misleading. I can find no evidence that Hillary said the US must consider military action beyond a possible no-fly zone. The Politico headline is misleading as well. If you mean she’s put a no-fly zone on the table then say that.

    No one ever takes military options off the table. That’s boilerplate, and if she had said anything different it would be criticized as amateurish. There are still Americans and other westerners in Libya. And Gaddafi could in theory lash out at a third country.

    Positioning assets, likewise, not exactly shocking. I would hope so.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    michael, I think a no fly-zone is a military action, if not an act of war. I also think there is a some difference between refusing to take military options off the table when asked, and specifically suggesting it’s being contemplated.

    I think they’re leaning a bit hard.

  10. michael reynolds says:


    When you saw:

    Hillary Clinton: U.S. “Must” Consider Military Action In Libya.

    Were you honestly thinking just a no-fly zone? And treating the movement of assets as though it’s ominous? I sure hope they’re moving assets closer, it’s wise given a fluid situation involving a lunatic with gas weapons and at least some jets. At very least we want a serious surveillance capability in the area. I’m not an expert on Libyan capabilities but there are NATO bases not so far across the Med.

    On the merits of a no-fly zone, I’m torn. I wish I had a higher degree of confidence in our intelligence agencies. In the wake of Iraq (preceded by “The Berlin wall did what?”) who knows if they can find their asses with both hands.

    If it is a no-fly or a decapitation strike I really hope it’s NATO and, not to repeat myself from earlier threads, but some Turkish skin in the game along with an okay from the Arab League would be nice. But what are the odds of the AL agreeing that we should off some despot? Normally despots don’t so much favor superpowers offing other despots.

  11. PD Shaw says:

    I probably thought punitive missile strikes; no landing of troops. But that’s because I’m not sure what a no-fly zone accomplishes here.