Libya: Obama’s “Worst Mistake”

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On August 22 2011, President Barack Obama announced that after a 5-month NATO-led military intervention supported by U.S. forces, rebel troops in Libya had finally brought down the regime of Colonel Muammar Gadhafi. “The Libyan intervention,” he said, “demonstrates what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one.”  Less than five years later, reflecting on the pitfalls of his Presidency in an April 2016 interview with Fox News, the President did not convey the same sense of optimism. Calling the military operation and its aftermath the “worst mistake” of his time in office, Obama stated simply that the intervention in Libya “didn’t work.”

It is hard to refute his conclusion. Following the initial post-Gadhafi glow, Libyan politics quickly descended into a whirlwind of competing governmental bodies, fickle militias, and bifurcated institutions. Indeed, the country has lingered in de facto civil war since 2014, and groups like ISIS in Libya have rushed to take advantage of the chaos.

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