As president, Barack Obama once severely criticized then-Prime Minister David Cameron for the United Kingdom’s role in allowing the oil-rich country of Libya to become a “sh-t show” after the ouster of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The British press referred to the remark as an unprecedented attack on a British leader by a serving American president. However, at the time there was little comment in the U.S. by media and politicians about the remark.
Obama said that because Cameron was “distracted,” Libya became a mess. Singling out Cameron, Obama said in 2015 that Cameron had taken his eye off Libya after being “distracted by a range of other things.”
Both Cameron and erstwhile-President Nicolas Sarkozy of France pushed for the U.S. bombing of Libya’s military forces. This led to Gaddafi’s fall, sinking Libya further into violence. It was in 2014 that terrorist forces attacked an American military compound in Benghazi and killed the American embassy and three other Americans. Libya then served as a staging area for Islamic State terrorists.
In an interview with The Atlantic magazine, Obama said in 2016, "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.” Obama said, “We actually executed this plan as well as I could have expected: We got a UN mandate, we built a coalition, it cost us $1bn – 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.”
In private, however, Obama reportedly said: “Libya is a sh-t show.”
In contrast, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are calling on President Donald Trump to apologize for remarks attributed to him. During a Thursday meeting with Senators and Representatives of both parties, the president was presented with an immigration deal that would provide amnesty for so-called DREAMers -- beneficiaries of Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy -- and certain border security improvements. Trump rejected the proposal.
According to subsequent reports, Trump asked the congressional delegation headed by Sens. Dick Durbin (D) and Lindsey Graham (SC), in reference to foreigners living in the country under Temporary Protective Status, “Why are we having all these people from sh—hole countries coming here?” The Washington Post reported that Trump also supposedly said that the U.S. should “bring more people from countries like Norway.”
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.