Much has been said about Hillary Clinton’s support for the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Some say she supported the action because she is “hawkish.” But why overthrow a leader who’d started to cooperate with Europe and the United States? On the surface, the policy didn’t make sense. Closer scrutiny suggests the reason had little to do with Hillary Clinton’s state of mind. (Blog 3/19/2016) According to Horace Campbell, a professor of African-American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University, the dictator died, in part, to protect the American dollar.
And in the case of Libya, the legitimacy of the leader had come from his presenting himself as someone who was part of the African Union and wanted to build an African Monetary Fund, an African Central Bank, and a African common currency. And that was a danger to not only the euro, because Sarkozy said, we’re going to fight to save the euro, but it would present a threat to the dollar. (Click)
Other countries, like Russia and China, have been equally eager to replace US currency as the vehicle for international trade, but Khadafy’s threat seemed imminent.
By way of background, the dollar emerged as the world’s currency after World War II. At the time, our government controlled nearly all the world’s hard currency. Being the largest global economy and “the only currency that could command sufficient trust as a global reserve asset,” the dollar gained dominance in international finance. (“America and the Global Economy,” by Jacob J. Lew, U. S. Secretary of the Treasury, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2016, pg. 60.) Today, the picture has become more balanced, but faith in the soundness of the dollar persists. That dominance gave our country leverage to impose sanctions on Iran, eventually leading to a nuclear treaty with them. It also gave us the clout to mobilize the world to combat the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and to create the international Green Climate Fund to save the environment.
When the financial crisis of 2008 hit the nation, the world waited to be engulfed by a fiscal tsunami. It never came because the US government stepped in to protect the dollar and our financial institutions. Much of the American public hated the decision, but that action prevented a worldwide depression.
We live in a complex world. Good derives from bad; bad for good. We were right to overthrow Gaddafi? I don’t know. What I do know is that Hillary Clinton’s perceived hawkishness had little to do with the tyrant’s fate.