Michele Bachmann commented on the death of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi during a speech at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco Thursday. Ms. Bachmann said Mr. Qaddafi’s death after 42 years in power left “the world a better place” and that she hoped his demise would mean an end to the American military presence in Libya.
Mr. Qaddafi was killed today by rebel fighters who began fighting his regime back in February. American troops joined French and English forces in support of the rebels in March.
“For more than forty years, we have lived with Muammar Qaddafi and the atrocities that he orchestrated, often times against his own people. The world is a better place without Qaddafi. It is my hope that Qaddafi’s reign of terror will be replaced with a government that respects the people in Libya and one that will be a good partner with the United States,” Ms. Bachmann said.
Ms. Bachmann also said she hoped Qaddafi’s demise would signify the end of the U.S. troop presence in Libya.
“Hopefully today will also bring an end to our military involvement in Libya,” Ms. Bachmann said.
Ms. Bachmann explained that the economic and human cost of fighting in Libya was too high coupled with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the commitment President Obama made last week of roughly 100 soldiers to fight warlord Joseph Kony in Uganda.
“We are now engaged in four conflicts … this is a calculus that simply won’t work, we cannot be overextended. … NATO needs to stand on their own two feet and provide for their own defense. i believe that the United States needs to stop providing the defense force for other nations across the world and we need to get our act together when it comes to our military,” Ms. Bachmann said.
During a question-and-answer portion of the event, Ms. Bachmann was asked about her views on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She didn’t discuss her plans for those nations, choosing instead to describe how Iran and its “mad man” leader is the primary foreign threat to America’s national security.
“I’m very concerned about the threat from Iran. The Iranian threat, in my mind, is the premiere threat that’s dominating the Middle East today
Despite her tough talk on Iran, Ms. Bachmann said she “did not believe the United States should have gone to Libya” and would be wary of starting new wars.
“I am not an isolationist, I am not, but I also believe that a lesson that we should learn from the last dozen years is that once the United States becomes engaged in a foreign entanglement, it is extremely difficult to extricate ourselves from that engagement,” Ms. Bachmann said.
Ms. Bachmann thinks she can regain some of the costs of America’s foreign wars by asking Libya and Iraq to reimburse us for our military operations there. The Observer asked Ms. Bachmann about her plan during a press conference after her speech.
“The United States has expended the greatest treasure that can be spent and that’s the blood of our fallen American men–servicemen and women. But even more than that, there’s been United States knowhow, intelligence services. … We’ve actually built infrastructure in those nations. … There should be something that comes back for that,” Ms. Bachmann said.
The Observer asked Ms. Bachmann how much she thought we should receive for our war efforts. She didn’t give a specific figure, but she explained how she expects Libya and Iraq to pay.
“I think that there could be a negotiation on a reasonable cost that has been expended by the United States to secure the liberation of the people of Libya and also people in Iraq and I think that that is part of what can be returned. These are not poor nations, these are nations that do have oil revenues,” Ms. Bachmann said.
Ms. Bachmann envisions the United States being reimbursed “over a period of years.”
“I’m not suggesting this be done in one lump sum payment,” Ms. Bachmann said.
Though she criticized America’s current crop of American conflicts, Ms. Bachmann continually stressed the danger posed by Iran and left open the door for the possibility she might want to start a foreign war of her own. However, as President, Ms. Bachmann said she would only send American troops abroad if ”there is a clear and demonstratable vital national interest.”
(Updated with quotes from press conference after event 11:05 pm)