Home/Daniel Larison/Why Did Trump Initially Support the Libyan War?

Why Did Trump Initially Support the Libyan War?

Appearing on Morning Joe, Trump repeated his claim that he wouldn’t have intervened in Libya. That is a completely different position from the one he took five years ago. Joe Scarborough later corrected the record:

Trump went from worrying that Gaddafi’s crackdown in 2011 could be “one of the worst” things in history and urging the U.S. to intervene to insisting that he was always against an intervention. There is no ambiguity about Trump’s original 2011 view. He said unequivocally, “It has to be stopped.” So when he claims to have been against the Libyan war all along, he is lying, and it is easy to prove that he’s lying. He likes to say that he has better foreign policy judgment than the people that supported the Libyan war, but he was one of those people when it mattered.

I assume that he took a pro-intervention position initially because he thought Obama wasn’t going to get the U.S. involved. The video those quotes are taken from was recorded in late February of that year, when it still seemed as if the administration would ignore demands to attack the Libyan government. Trump berated Obama for not taking military action, because that seemed the clear anti-Obama position to take at the time. It was only later after Obama did launch the war in Libya that Trump changed his tune, and more recently he has pretended to have been an opponent of the war from the beginning.

Obviously, people can change their minds on any given issue, and I welcome it when former supporters of unnecessary wars realize that they were wrong. The problem with Trump’s positions on Libya is that he never acknowledges his original error and pretends to have been a consistent opponent of the intervention when there is indisputable proof that he wasn’t. That’s not only dishonest, but it should give everyone another reason to doubt that he learned anything from his error when he can’t even admit that he made one.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles