Obama: My Worst Mistake Was Not Planning for Day After Libya Intervention

April 10, 2016

President Barack Obama said Sunday that his biggest failure as president was not planning for the aftermath of the 2011 intervention into Libya, after which the country became a failed state in which jihadists groups have gained strong footholds.

"[My worst mistake was] probably failing to plan for the day after for what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya," Obama said on Fox News Sunday.

In 2011, the U.S. joined a multi-state coalition of European and Arab countries to intervene militarily in Libya. The intervention was meant to prevent Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out attacks against civilians.

Hillary Clinton was the primary advocate for intervening and persuaded a reluctant presidential cabinet to support the effort.

Obama let the Europeans take the lead with military operations in what he termed as an American strategy of "leading from behind." Ultimately Gaddafi was killed in October of 2011 and his regime overthrown.

None of the intervening countries followed up with a plan to build a post-Gaddafi Libya, however, and the country steadily descended into chaos.

Several jihadist groups were able to entrench themselves in Libya in the following years, including the Islamic State, which has reportedly doubled its presence in Libya over the past year, causing some American policymakers to call for renewed military action in the North African country.

Obama recently blamed French and British leaders in Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic article for causing the chaos in Libya today by ignoring the country after the initial intervention.