During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump has come down hard on the Obama administration for intervening in Libya to help topple Muammar Qaddafi. Trump says, for example, that the world would be better off with Qaddafi in power. Indeed, he has argued that “frankly there is no Libya; it’s all broken up; they have no control; nobody knows what’s going on.”
Trump probably isn’t far wrong in his assessment. However, as Andrew Kaczynski at BuzzFeed documents, Trump strongly supported the U.S. intervention in Libya at the time it occurred.
According to Kaczynski, in 2011, sounding every bit like Samantha Power in her pre-power days, Trump said this:
I can’t believe what our country is doing. Qaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people, nobody knows how bad it is, and we’re sitting around, we have soldiers all [around] the Middle East, and we’re not bringing them in to stop this horrible carnage and that’s what it is: It’s a carnage.
Displaying both his ignorance about Libya (according to this analysis piece about 1,000 people, most of them combatants, had been killed in that country when we intervened) and his scant knowledge of history, Trump continued:
You talk about things that have happened in history; this could be one of the worst. Now we should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick. We could do it surgically, stop him from doing it, and save these lives. This is absolutely nuts. We don’t want to get involved and you’re gonna end up with something like you’ve never seen before. . . .
We should do on a humanitarian basis, immediately go into Libya, knock this guy out very quickly, very surgically, very effectively, and save the lives.”
What would happen next? Why, the people would take over from Qaddafi eventually and then “they should pay us back,” using oil revenue, out of appreciation.
Exit question: What’s the difference between Donald Trump and Ben Carson on foreign policy?
Exit answer: Carson has some sense of what he doesn’t know.