In an interview with Fox News, President Barack Obama said the worst mistake of his presidency was the U.S. reaction to Libya.
“Probably failing to plan for the day after, what I think was the right thing to do, in intervening in Libya,” Obama said when asked what he believed was the worst mistake of his presidency during a rapid-fire Q & A session with Fox News' Chris Wallace.
Obama appears to be more forthcoming about his feelings about Libya. In an interview with The Atlantic for the magazine's April issue, he spoke in-depth about U.S. missteps after intervening in the North African country.
In 2011, the Obama administration made a concerted effort to get other countries, including France and Italy, involved in its effort to stabilize Libya. The goal was to coordinate militarily and avoid putting American troops on the ground. Air strikes began in March, 2011, and attacks eventually ended on October 20, 2011, after Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was killed by rebels. But after that, Obama admits the U.S. didn't have much of a plan.
“So we actually executed this plan as well as I could have expected: We got a UN mandate, we built a coalition, it cost us $1 billion—which, when it comes to military operations, is very cheap. We averted large-scale civilian casualties, we prevented what almost surely would have been a prolonged and bloody civil conflict. And despite all that, Libya is a mess,” Obama said.
He added: “When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong, there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State during the Libya intervention. She is regarded as one of the figures in Obama's administration who was strongly in favor of invading Libya and has said she supports more intervention in the war-torn country where ISIS has gained a stronghold.
“We already are, as you know from the headlines and the stories, using special forces, using air strikes to go after ISIS leaders,” Clinton told Fox News host Bret Baier at a televised town hall. “We ought to be supporting [Libyans], not only with special forces and air strikes against terrorists, but helping them secure their borders and deal with some of the internal challenges they face.”