After spending his campaign saying that Libya was better off under Muammar Gaddafi, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump now says he would have approved a surgical intervention.
Trump’s criticism of the US’ mishandling of situation in Libya since the toppling of Gaddafi in 2011 has led many to believe that the candidate, who is light on foreign affairs experience, would not have endorsed the airstrikes that helped the rebels beat the dictator.
However, during Sunday’s interview with CBS, host John Dickerson showed Trump a video blog from 2011 in which the entrepreneur chides the US for “sitting around” and calls for a “humanitarian” intervention.
“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 [Gaddafi], which would be very easy and very quick. We could do it surgically, stop him from doing it, and save these lives,” says an animated Trump.
So, is Trump flip-flopping with the benefit of hindsight? Not so, claims the billionaire.
“I was for something, but I wasn’t for what we have right now,” Trump told Dickerson. “Right now, ISIS [Islamic State, IS, ISIL] has their oil. ISIS is selling – that’s among the finest oil in the world. ISIS has taken over the Libyan oil. And we don’t do blockades; we don’t do anything; they’re selling it; they’re making a fortune with it. So we go out; we do Libya; we do it poorly, as poorly as you can do it. You can’t do worse. And then now, if you look at what’s happened, I mean, the end result is ISIS is selling the oil and it’s a total mess.”
What would President Trump have done in 2011?
“I was never for strong intervention. It could have seen surgical, where you take out Gaddafi and his group. You do a surgical shot and you take him out,” said Trump, who is set to be officially endorsed by the Republican Convention next month.
Gaddafi was gruesomely murdered by a mob of militants after being captured with the help of NATO airstrikes in October of 2011. Despite US assistance, the Libyan state has collapsed into several warring fiefdoms, with Islamist radicals holding a strong position.
Trump has used the failure of Libya and the incident in Benghazi that led to the deaths of 4 US citizens to attack Democrat rival Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time and had vocally endorsed US involvement, famously declaring “We came, we saw, he died,” on hearing of Gaddafi’s death.