President Barack Obama hopes to leave a legacy in his final year in office.
However, Obama admits he has one regret after nearly eight years as commander in chief.
“Probably failing to plan for, the day after, what I think was the right thing to do, in intervening in Libya,” he said in an interview on April 10’s Fox News Sunday.
In 2011, the U.S. moved forward with taking down Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gadhafi.
The NATO-led intervention started months earlier. Airstrikes were designed to protect civilians during the 2011 uprising. By October, rebel fighters managed to kill Gadhafi.
Critics say the aftermath turned into a downward spiral, pushing Libya into turmoil. Militias took over and two rival parliaments and governments formed.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Obama administration emerged in September 2012, when the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed after Islamist militants stormed the consulate in eastern Benghazi. Politicians asked how something like this could happen, as the U.S. should have made every effort to protect them.
This month, the State Department turned more than 1,100 pages of records to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The request was sent more than a year ago, frustrating conservative lawmakers like Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. He’s remained critical of the president’s actions and that of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“It is deplorable that it took over a year for these records to be produced to our committee,” Gowdy said, criticizing his Democratic colleagues for “never lifting a finger to help us get them.”
“This investigation is about a terrorist attack that killed four Americans and it could have been completed a lot sooner if the administration had not delayed…at every turn,” he continues in an April 9 article on Fox News.
Despite this, Obama said intervening with Libya was “the right thing to do.” Though more support would have helped.
Interesting from Obama and Libya. When I’ve been in the MENA region it’s not the UKs retreat that’s commented upon, Mr President.
— Alistair Burt (@AlistairBurtMP) March 10, 2016
Obama leaves Iraq in a mess, disengages from the Mid East, does nothing in Syria, Libya or Palestine & then blames us. Not much of a legacy.
— Alan Duncan (@AlanDuncanMP) March 11, 2016
In a recent interview with Atlantic Magazine, President Obama criticized France and the United Kingdom for being distracted during the intervention. The U.S. needed support from allies in the intervention and beyond. “The way I looked at it was that it would be our problem if, in fact, complete chaos and civil war broke out in Libya,” Obama said. ”But this is not so at the core of US interests that it makes sense for us to unilaterally strike against the Gaddafi regime. “At that point, you’ve got Europe and a number of Gulf countries who despise Gaddafi, or are concerned on a humanitarian basis, who are calling for action. But what has been a habit over the last several decades in these circumstances is people pushing us to act but then showing an unwillingness to put any skin in the game … free riders. “So what I said at that point was, we should act as part of an international coalition. But because this is not at the core of our interests, we need to get a UN mandate; we need Europeans and Gulf countries to be actively involved in the coalition; we will apply the military capabilities that are unique to us, but we expect others to carry their weight.”
Our relationship is essential. It is special. True yesterday, true today & will be true tomorrow. — Matthew Barzun (@MatthewBarzun) March 11, 2016
Russian President Vladmir Putin said this should be a lesson for the U.S. In his annual Q&A session, Putin said he appreciates Obama for admitting his fault for the aftermath in Libya.
“Firstly, it confirms once again that the current U.S. president is a decent man – and I say this without irony, because it’s not easy to say such things,” he said.
“Unfortunately, [Obama] himself made those mistakes in Libya. It is very good that my colleague has the courage to [admit it], not everyone can do it,” he said. “The bad thing is that this series of errors continues. After all, the same mistake was almost made in Syria, and it is still not clear what the outcome will be.”