Marco Rubio Has Trouble Remembering How the Debate Over Libya Went

The hawks' argument was not that Qaddafi's downfall was inevitable. It was the opposite.


The Qaddafi/Trump debates were the high point of Amero-Libyan history on Earth-503.
U.S. Navy

Back in 2011, Marco Rubio was a loud advocate of getting involved with the Libyan civil war. Here's how he handled the topic when it came up in at tonight's Republican presidential debate:

We didn't topple Qaddafi. The Libyan people toppled Qaddafi. The only choice before America that this president had to make is, Does it happen quickly or does it take a long time? And I argued if it takes a long time, you're going to have rebel forces emerge like these radical Islamists to take advantage of the vacuum. And that's what happened.

We've been over this stuff before, but it bears repeating: This is a highly misleading account of how Marco Rubio sold the war. It was in no sense clear that Qaddafi was bound to be overthrown either "quickly" or in "a long time," especially given that Rubio seems to define "a long time" to mean eight months. The argument for intervention was that if U.S. didn't insert itself, Qaddafi would—in Rubio's words—"get away with crushing [the rebellion] through brutal force."

Qaddafi's regime, the Rubio of 2011 declared, "has brutally massacred its own people for simply expressing their desire to live in a free and peaceful Libya….We should unflinchingly support the Libyan people's legitimate demands to build a freer and peaceful country." He did not add, "Of course we all know that the revolution will succeed sooner or later."