Hillary Clinton answers a question about her support for the 2011 war which toppled Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi and has led to five years of anarchy in the oil-rich country.
HILLARY CLINTON: Libya is a little different. You know, Libya actually held elections. They elected moderates. They have tried to piece together a government against a lot of really serious challenges internally coming from the outside with terrorist groups and other bad actors.
They're working to try to unify the different factions inside Libya so that they can take united action against the terrorists and try to get the east and the west of the country working together.
You know, they are a rich country… They're working to try to unify the different factions inside Libya so that they can take united action against the terrorists and try to get the east and the west of the country working together.
You know, they're a rich country. They have oil. They're not without resources. But they've got to get over their internal disputes. And the United States, Europe, and others are helping them to try to do that, and I think they need some time and support.
I know the United States has taken some actions against terrorists inside Libya, particularly ISIS training camps, and I support that, because I want to give the people of Libya a chance to actually form a government and realize the promise of getting rid of Gadhafi, who had so oppressed the country for, you know, more than 40 years, hollowed out all the institutions, threatened genocide against his own people, which is one of the reasons why the rest of the world intervened. And I'm hoping that we can give them the time and space to actually, you know, make a difference for their country in the future.
CUOMO: How do you explain the time and space to people? Because when you look at Libya, for example, you're right about ISIS being there. The U.S. just had to bomb. The place, by most estimates, is in a nightmare phase right now. Is it an example for people to say, you see what happens when we get involved, you see what happens when we take somebody out? You don't know what's going to replace it; maybe we shouldn't have done it that way. Do you believe there is a mistake involved in Libya right now?
CLINTON: Well, let me make two points. One, let's remember what was going on at the time. This was at the height of the Arab spring. The people in Libya were expressing themselves, were demanding their freedom, and Gadhafi responded brutally and said that he would just hunt them down like cockroaches, and made it very clear that he would use his mercenaries -- because he didn't have a standing army, he had a lot of hired mercenaries from around -- to do literally that.
The Europeans, who are across the sea from Libya, you know, came to us and said, this is on our doorstep, we need your help. Basically, they said, we're with you in Afghanistan, we need you now to help us with Libya, because we've got to prevent this terrible happening that could result from Gadhafi. We had Arabs come to us and say the same thing.
We formed the first coalition between NATO and Arab nations. Arab nations actually ran a lot of the air campaign and other support systems. So I think you have to look at what was going on at the time and why it seemed -- and I agree with this -- to make sense for us to bring our special assets to the table to help the people of Libya.
Now, I go back to this point. They had an election, and it was a good election, it was a fair election, it met international standards. That was an amazing accomplishment for a nation that had been so deprived for so long.
You know, the United States was in Korea, and still is, for many years. We are still in Germany. We are still in Japan. We have a presence in a lot of places in the world that started out as a result of conflict. And if you think about South Korea, there were coups, there were assassinations, there was a lot of problems for the Koreans to build their economy, to create their democracy.
This doesn't happen overnight. And, yes, it's been a couple of years. I think it's worth European support, Arab support, American support to try to help the Libyan people realize the dream that they had when they went after Gadhafi.