Up | January 27, 2013
>>> let me underscore the importance of the united states continuing to lead in the middle east , in north africa and around the world. we've come a long way in the past four years and we cannot afford to retreat now. when america is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. extremism takes root, our interests suffer, our security at home is threatened.
>> i thought that was such -- that's hillary clinton testifying this week and i thought that line was so important because it kind of disstills down i think the operational theory in intervention here or american leadership, which is when america is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. extremism takes root, our interests suffer, security at home is threatened. horace, that seems like a proposition you don't agree with and libya was a failed implementation of that view.
>> first of all, hillary clinton has a very short memory, so the kind of leadership she's talking about, we have to be very clear, what kind of leadership we want in africa . the people in africa want peace. they want unity and they want reconstruction. they do not want wars. and what happened in libya is a sign of the kind of militarism we've seen all over africa from the u.s. africa command . 50,000 libyans have been killed out of this intervention. the whole region of north africa has been destabilized. there are 1700 militias running around libya today. the u.s. ambassador has been killed. the united nations is calling for a full review. what the united states need is to have a review of its whole africa command and to withdraw its military forces . there's no need for the united states to be engaged with africa through the military. africa needs dentists, students, they need engineers, they need teachers, they need doctors, not the military. so what the leadership that hillary clinton is talking about is not what africa needs. what we've seen from the initiative and the u.s. training of these militarists are the very same people who are creating the problems in north africa .
>> i think people may not know this. up until 2007 there was no distinct central africa command in terms of the way the pentagon cleaved the world. in 2007 there was africa command and it currently is stationed in europe, not actually in africa . there have been a variety of initiatives to train the soldiers of different african regimes, counterterrorism training, other kinds of training and in fact the soldiers of mali . mali was one of the star pupils in the --
>> and they're the same people now we're fighting.
>> right. so i want to turn to mali in a second but first i want to push back -- not push back but to play devil's advocate about this intervention question on libya . when you look at all the negative consequences of libya , what do you say to the point about syria ? everything that you could say about libya , weapons, destabilization, refugees, everything that's terrible about what has been the fallout of libya seems to me happening in syria as well where there hasn't been the same intervention and so maybe it's just the nature of the conflict as opposed to what the u.s. or the west does.
>> no, that's a copout. it's not the nature of the conflict. the very same jihadists who were called terrorists in 2000 , the libya islamic fighting group who were called terrorists, they were the same people financed to overthrow the gadhafi regime. so all of these organizations that are now in benghazi creating problems are the ones who were being financed by the cia to go to syria . so the united states cannot create terrorists and then go and fight them and to tell people that they are creating stability in the world.
>> but that's exactly what the u.s. does. this is what the u.s. did in afghanistan, this is what we're seeing there, where the u.s. supported and armed a whole group of islamist fighters throughout the 1980s to fight the soviet union and then suddenly now we're back fighting them directly. but i think if we look at syria , it's very important to take what he said to the next point. i think this means there should not be military intervention . i mean there is already military intervention . the cia is orchestrating who gets the weapons. the u.s. military is helping to facilitate all of that so we are intervening in syria .
>> there's not military intervention explicitly from our forces.
>> explicitly, yeah, but it's getting closer to that. but i think the problem here is we're looking at a scenario where we're denying that the actual opposition in syria began and still has a crucial component, which is calling for nonviolence, political revolutionary processes.
>> they can call --
>> no, no, chris, their voices are being drowned out by this massive militarization.
>> but the massive militarization is the product of --
>> it's both. there's an internal part and external part and they come together in the form of weapons and that is what has drowned out these voices that are still there. it's incredible brave ry coming out in the cities of syria in the midst of the bombing and the midst of the attacks to say we want a different kind of government here but we don't want foreign intervention.
>> what we have seen is that in the cauldron of war and in the cauldron of violence, it is often the case that liberal, secular, nonviolent voices are diminished while the people with guns rise up.
>> that's what it facilitates by sending all these weapons. that's what happens. that the people who have the weapons suddenly have the face.
>> i am just saying that that same process has played out in a million different environments which the u.s. had nothing to do with.
>> not in in a million.
>> i'm just saying this is a dynamic of armed conflict .
>> in recent history that has been the rule of the united states of america .
>> robin, let me ask you very quickly. because i want to turn to mali because that's the place where the heat is now on because we have an explicit western intervention, 2300 french troops. do you think the state department is -- what is their perspective on the french intervention in mali and what they are doing there. is this worrying the obama administration? is there support for this?
>> well, obviously the united states is providing refueling facilities for the french warplanes so, yes, the united states is playing a role already. i think there are no comfortable choices and that's one of the realities across the region today, whether it's in mali or syria , post revolution egypt and libya . the united states doesn't have a grand strategy . it's looking at each case individually. the reality is that with islamists taking over northern mali , which is larger than france , just that part of it, this then creates a greater threat throughout the region. and unfortunately the outside world dithered for way too long in trying to figure out a response and to the earlier point, the fact is the africans can't do it themselves. there's been talk for two decades about creating an africa rapid deployment force and they haven't been able to bring it together, provide training, cohesion, command and control and as a result there is no local or regional alternative.
>> africans -- it's opportunism on the part of france to go into mali when there was a plan by the african union and united nations security council . the united states nations security council resolution did not mandate france to go in. with the history of france in africa , africans on the whole are opposed to french intervention .
>> let me pause that for a second because robin just mentioned the world dithered. and again six months ago, eight months ago you were testifying before congress saying the situation in mali is very bad, it's very unstable and i want you to set up the parameters of what we're discussing because i think it's confusing to a lot of folks right after we take