How would Donald Trump have handled the attack in Libya?
In his latest incarnation as foreign policy expert, Donald Trump blames the Obama administration for a 'debacle' in Benghazi and for not claiming the spoils due the 'victor' in Libya.
Donald Trump got to play secretary of State during his weekly appearance Monday on “Fox & Friends." Like many people, the Donald is upset about the fact that the Obama administration took so long to admit that the attack in Benghazi, which killed US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans, was an organized terrorist assault.Skip to next paragraph
Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.
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“Well, it really is a debacle and it really is a shame and normally you would say ‘fire,’ " said Mr. Trump, referring to the act of firing people, a subject on which he’s a world expert.
As to the belated and conflicting statements by Obama officials after the attack, which generally held that it had been inspired by an anti-Islamic movie made in the US, Trump said they were lies.
“They’ve been lying for years now, they get away with it, and the press allows them to get away with it,” Trump said.
Then he got wound up and launched into a classic Trump rant about the Libyan situation.
First, he laid blame for the assault on the entire group of rebels who toppled Libyan dictator Muammar Quaddafi. That’s sure what it sounded like, anyway.
“We helped the rebels ... and they end up killing our ambassador, and other people. And we shouldn’t be in a situation like that,” said Trump.
This ignores the fact that the “rebels” are a loose coalition of many different militias and political groups whose biggest political problem now may be trying to find a way to knit together to form a workable government. According to a story in this morning’s New York Times, witnesses in Benghazi have identified the attackers as members of Ansar al-Shariah, a local Islamist militant group.
Then, Trump got to the root of the problem: By contributing to an international air-cover effort, we intervened when we shouldn’t have. Or we didn’t do it right, or back the right people, since they’re against us now.
“What [the administration] did in Libya was insane. Who are we protecting? Probably we were on the side of Iranians who wanted to take over Libya,” he told "Fox & Friends" hosts.
Let’s back up to February of last year. Trump, as part of his recurring series of short videos entitled “From the Desk of Donald Trump," recorded a short and at the time seemingly heartfelt plea for the US to intervene in Libya to stop Qaddafi from killing civilians.
“We have to go in to save these lives ... it’s horrible what’s going on,” said Trump back then.
OK, back to today. Actually, there’s more consistency then you’d think between his stance then and his stance now, because both times Trump said that what should really have happened is that the US should have received half of Libya’s oil in payment for its help in ousting Mr. Qaddafi.
“I’ve said it from Day 1, if we’re going to help them, take 50 percent of the oil. They would have agreed to it in two seconds. Now, they view us as an interloper,” said Trump.
At another point, he upped the amp several notches, adding that “it used to be, to the victors belong the spoils. We’re the victor, we get nothing because ... we’re run by stupid people."
Funny, we thought it was the Libyan rebels themselves who captured Tripoli, not the US Marines. In any case, this taking-half-of-their-oil thing is something Trump has raised in other contexts, such as Iraq. Would these other nations really give up half those revenues as easily as Trump surmises? We doubt it.