During the Sunday, March 27, 2011, news shows, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended U.S. involvement in Libya. Following a question to Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, who said Libya was not in our vital interests, Hillary made a case on Meet the Press that the country was indeed in our strategic vital interests:
DAVID GREGORY/MEET THE PRESS: I think a lot of people would say, “Well, that’s quite striking, not in our vital interests, and yet we’re committing military resources to it.”
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, but then it wouldn’t be fair as to what Bob just said. I mean, did Libya attack us? No, they did not attack us. Do they have a very critical role in this region and do they neighbor two countries? You just mentioned one, Egypt, the other Tunisia, that are going through these extraordinary transformations and cannot afford to be destabilized by conflict on their borders. Yes. Do they have a major influence on what goes on in Europe because of everything from oil to immigration?
And David, that raises a very important point because you showed on the map just a minute ago Afghanistan. We asked our allies, our NATO allies, to go into Afghanistan with us 10 years ago. They have been there and a lot of them have been there despite the fact they were not attacked; the attack came on us as we all tragically remember. They stuck with us. When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the UK, France, Italy, other of our NATO allies. This was in their vital national interests. The UK and France were the ones who went to the Security Council and said, “We have to act, because otherwise we’re seeing a really violent upheaval with a man who has a history of unpredictable violent acts right on our doorstep.”
So let’s be fair here. They didn’t attack us, but what they were doing and Qadhafi’s history and the potential for the disruption and instability was very much in our interests, as Bob said, and seen by our European friends and our Arab partners as very vital to their interests.