The day after Hillary Clinton propped up U.S. intervention in Libya as an example of coalition building she would use to defeat the Islamic State, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) in Paris on Friday said the Islamic State would not be as strong as it is today if the U.S. did not topple dictators like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.
"ISIS, our enemy, would not be as strong as they are today if those actions were not taken to overthrow those secular dictators," Gabbard said.
The Hawaii representative and combat veteran argued the U.S. should learn lessons from overthrowing Hussein in Iraq and Gaddafi in Libya. She advocated avoiding intervention with the Assad regime, opposing the Obama administration, and focus on destroying the caliphate.
"It's counterproductive because it directly helps ISIS, al Qaeda, al Nusra, the Islamic extremist groups in Syria whose goal is to overthrow Assad, take over all of Syria, gain control of this whole territory, establish their Islamic caliphate and present a disastrous humanitarian crisis far worse than we're seeing now. And a greater threat to the world," Gabbard said.
The Vice Chairwoman of the DNC’s statement undermines Clinton’s claim that the ouster of Gaddafi was necessary and in the interests of both the Libyan people and the American people’s national security. Gabbard voiced opposition to Clinton’s rationale for the invasion where "America led from behind." Today, Libya is in turmoil with ISIS gaining more influence, just as in Iraq.
"Look at the state of these countries today," Gabbard told CNN’s Jake Tapper. "They have been overrun and are filled with chaos. And ISIS and Islamist extremist groups have only grown stronger in these countries and terrorizing the people there."
On Thursday during her major speech at the Council of Foreign Relation in Washington D.C., Clinton defended the administration’s decision to overthrow Gaddafi, which she spearheaded.
"And with the developments in Libya, for example, the Libyan people have voted twice in free and fair elections for the kind of leadership they want," Clinton told Fareed Zakaria. "They have not been able to figure out how to prevent the disruptions that they are confronted with because of internal divides and because of some of the external pressures that are coming from terrorist groups and others. So it’s — I think it’s too soon to tell and I think it’s something that we have to be, you know, looking at very closely.
During the Democratic debate Nov. 14, Clinton claimed Gaddafi had more American blood on his hands than any other Arab leader, and the instability in the country was due to an "arc of instability" in the region, not because the administration toppled the dictator then left a power vacuum in his place.
Gabbard compared the mistake to invade Libya with the Iraq War that removed Hussein, a war Clinton voted for, then called a mistake.