Buried in the news, somewhere under the tons of reports covering Donald Trump Jr.’s email exchange with Russians promising him damaging information on Hillary Clinton, was a report nearly ignored regarding Libya. The same Libya that was destabilized to utter ruin thanks to the policies implemented by President Barack Obama and his then Secretary of State Clinton.
After having claimed that he saw no role for the United States in Libya, U.S. officials are now saying that the President Donald Trump administration will soon announce a dramatic shift in policy, looking into not only appointing a new U.S. ambassador, but also putting more American boots in the country.
So what happened? After Clinton and Obama toppled Muammar Gaddafi, a power vacuum transformed Libya in fertile ground for constant conflict, despair, and misery. Now, Trump’s America wants to help, sending in boots to secure the “unity government” in Tripoli.
Adding more fuel to the fire, the operation would also send troops to Benghazi where a rival faction has taken over. With these ingredients in the mix, it’s hard to see how the U.S. ramped up involvement in the region won’t translate into more direct involvement, pitting U.S. forces against militants and terrorists in the region in the name of Libya’s new “official” government, which is the same faction that was once backed by Obama.
While the former administration offered the unity government the same support, helping them to fight off ISIS, the victory did nothing for Libya’s new government concoction. As a result, the country is divided and run by different powers, with Tripoli still under the care of the unity government.
If the current administration is serious about increasing its presence in the region, the U.S. may end up becoming a staple in the country, just like it did with Iraq. As such, whomever ends up taking the government of the country will also end up being a client of the United States.
Proving that Trump was never up to truly challenging Obama’s policies where it truly matters, the president is now doing the exact opposite of what he promised during his campaign.
He isn’t erasing the former president’s legacy, after all. Instead, he’s simply building on it, pursuing policies that repeat the same mistakes and rely on the same old and failed tactics.
With the U.S. continued involvement in Libya, resentment associated with our involvement in the country will only grow, giving terrorist cells in the broader region enough recruitment tools to continue growing their power over the region. If Trump wants to grow groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda-linked terrorist cells, he’s doing precisely what he should. In the process, he’s also sucking the taxpayer dry. Not the most austere — or prudent — of combos.