During a Friday phone interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he “would have stayed out of Libya” back in 2011. Contrasting his own position with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who pushed to get the United States more involved in the effort to take out Muammar Qaddafi, Trump said deposing the dictator led to “more destabilization” in the region. Trump also said he “would have stayed out of Iraq too.”
Trump’s remarks won plaudits from host Joe Scarborough, who responded by saying, “There are a lot of people who say you have an inconsistent foreign policy, but it sounds pretty consistent.”
In fact, Trump’s views on Libya and Iraq have been totally, and demonstrably, inconsistent. It doesn’t take much digging to discover that Trump was originally in favor of increased United States involvement in both countries.
In a video blog about Libya from 2011, Trump said, “Qaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people, nobody knows how bad it is, and we’re sitting around, we have soldiers all [around] the Middle East, and we’re not bringing them in to stop this horrible carnage… Now we should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick.”
Trump reiterated the point a few seconds later, saying, “We should do on a humanitarian basis, immediately go into Libya, knock this guy out very quickly, very surgically, very effectively, and save the lives. After it’s all done, we’ll go to the protesters who end up running the country, they’re going to end up liking us a lot better than if we don’t do it.”
Trump’s position regarding Iraq has followed a similar pattern. Trump has repeatedly claimed during his presidential campaign that he was opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq all along. But Trump’s only on-record comment about Iraq during the months preceding the invasion features him saying “Yeah, I guess so” in September 2002 when asked by Howard Stern if he was in favor of military action.
Trump initially got away with his Libya and Iraq lies during Friday’s Morning Joe interview. Later in the show, however, Scarborough attempted to correct the record:
— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) May 20, 2016
Scarborough’s effort stands in contrast to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who in a recent column entitled “Donald the Dove, Hillary the Hawk” wrote that “the prime example of commander-in-chief judgment Trump offers is the fact that, like Obama, he thought the invasion of Iraq was a stupid idea.” Left unstated is the fact that Trump conveniently came to that conclusion only after it became clear that the intervention was going poorly, as is also the case with Libya.