Election 2016

Donald Trump on Libya: A 'Surgical' War Would've Been OK

It was Hillary Clinton's worst decision as secretary of state, yet Trump can't make a coherent case against it.


The highest office that Hillary Clinton has held is secretary of state, and the biggest blot on her record in that job is the military intervention in Libya. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump has been attacking her for it. But to judge from his latest comments on the subject, he may not be capable of making his case coherently.

Some background: Back in 2011, when Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi was cracking down on a rebellion, Trump declared that "we should go in. We should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick. We could do it surgically, stop him from doing it and save these lives." NATO then intervened, with disastrous results. Since entering the presidential race last year, Trump has harshly criticized the Libya war, with few hints of his earlier support for it; last fall, for example, when NBC's Chuck Todd asked him if the Middle East would be better off if Qaddafi were still in power, he replied, "Of course it would," and declared that post-Qaddafi Libya is "not even a country anymore."

Clinton, meanwhile, still insists that the Libyan operation was "smart power at its best." So there is an opening here for Trump to say, "Hillary Clinton and I both supported intervention in Libya. I learned from my mistake, and she didn't." But that isn't what he's saying, perhaps because it would entail admitting that he had made a mistake. On Face the Nation yesterday, confronted with his original position, Trump tried to pretend he'd never changed his mind on the subject at all:

JOHN DICKERSON: This is one of the things that confuses some people about your positions. You said you weren't for intervention, but you were for intervention in Libya.

DONALD TRUMP: I didn't mind surgical. And I said surgical. You do a surgical shot and you take them out.

But I wasn't for what happened. Look at the way it's—look at—with Benghazi and with all of the problems that you have had. It was handled horribly.

DICKERSON: But you said you were never for intervention.

TRUMP: I was never for a strong intervention. I could have seen surgical, where you take out Qaddafi and his group.

I'm sure the Libya hawks in the Hillary camp would also prefer a timeline where their war went off without any bad bits. But if Trump has any ideas about how the Pentagon could have "take[n] out Qaddafi and his group" without creating a situation where Libya is "not even a country anymore," he didn't share them. Instead he's basically saying I'm for a Libya war that worked out better, without Benghazi and all that. Which is a bit like saying The Iraq war was a great idea, except for the insurgency or Going into Vietnam was wise, as long as we could've had a quick victory.

If Trump cannot coherently denounce the worst decision Clinton made as secretary of state, perhaps the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld can step in and make the case? That would be good to see, but the party may need to muzzle its vice presidential pick first. From a New York Times story last week:

Mr. Weld gave a single-word response about whether Mrs. Clinton was a good secretary of state: "Yes."


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  1. Mr. Weld gave a single-word response about whether Mrs. Clinton was a good secretary of state: “Yes.”

    “I meant, ‘good for helping my ticket get elected’. Wait, that doesn’t sound quite right ….”

    1. And Reason thinks we should support this guy? Umm, no.

      1. It’s pretty obvious Johnson+Weld is better than Hillary+anybody or Trump+ anybody, and that’s about all anybody has ever claimed. Besides, you seem to be under the impression that Reason has a mind and wants things. It doesn’t and it doesn’t. I doubt even most of the staffers actually *want* anyone to vote in specific ways. Andthen there’s the matter of your “we”, as if you are somehow a spokes critter for everyone else.

        You got problems, bud.

        1. If not wanting libertarians being identified as east coast democrat lites, is having a problem, in your opinion, then ok. Also, not trying to speak for everyone, you took that totally out of context. It sure seems to me that Reason are promoting Johnson/Weld. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I just don’t agree. When I say ‘we’, I meant everyone posting here, I never tried to speak for everyone, not sure how you came up with that. If I would have said ‘We’re not voting for so and so’, that would be speaking for everyone. All I said is that Reason thinks ‘we’ should, meaning we the readers of Reason.

          1. It’s fascinating how many different candidates Reason is simultaneously pushing … Trump, Cruz, Sanders, Johnson, probably someone even suggested Hillary at some point.

            The very fact that there is so much disagreement on who Reason is pushing ought to be a clue that Reason is not pushing any of them, and that while individual staffers may at times report on who is being naughty and who is being nice, that doesn’t amount to endorsements.

            Then there are the puritans who think everybody is unqualified to endorsement, which I would agree with from an anarchist point of view that there should be no government and no government leader to rule everybody else, except those puritans don’t usually mean that; they are usually holding out for Mr.Perfect.Top.Man who doesn’t exist.

            Stop floundering and say something useful. Follow my example! I am your Mr.Perfect.Top.Man!

            1. You could have said all of that without accusing me of trying to speak for everyone and adding the ‘you got problems’ at the end. But whatever.

            2. It’s fascinating how many different candidates Reason is simultaneously pushing … Trump

              I haven’t seen one piece about Trump that could possibly be interpreted as even a tepid or qualified endorsement. This comes across as made up.

              1. I wasn’t here that day either.

        2. It’s weird/discouraging how often we have to point out that Reason is not a monolithic entity with a coherent set of principles and desires. Apparently one or two staffers (one of whom is no longer on board) voted for Obama in ’08 (and neither for particularly strong ideological reasons) means that the whole publication is in the tank for Hillary.

          I guess dividing the world into neat binaries makes it easier for some people to process.

          1. I’m glad I didn’t insult hummus or anything. And everyone knows that Reason is indeed a cosmotarian cocktail party cult.

            1. It’s kind of magical how you can make a proposition true just by adding “everyone knows” to the beginning.

              1. Is your sarcasm meter broken, brah?

                1. Look, I didn’t want to pay $2.99 for the Sarcsasmotron Pro app, and the lite version only detects sarcasm in italics.

        3. It’s pretty obvious Johnson+Weld is better than Hillary+anybody or Trump+ anybody, and that’s about all anybody has ever claimed

          Not true. The cosmotarian wing of the LP claimed Johnson+Weld is better than McAfee+Weiss, Peterson+whoever, Feld+whoever, and a number of other candidates for the LP nomination.

          The fact is that Johnson+Weld are libertarians in pretty much the same way that Bill Maher is a libertarian. They are liberal Republicans who washed out of current GOP. They do have something in common with genuine libertarians in that they reject the state as a means to enforce social conservatism and they oppose the neo-con vision of national greatness … which means that they are vastly superior to Trump or Clinton. That doesn’t make them libertarian even if they are the LP candidates.

      2. And Reason thinks we should support this guy? Umm, no.

        I have never seen any writer on this site advocate for Weld. I know Jesse has written at least one piece that was pretty critical of Weld.

        1. No need to defend them, it was just an innocent comment. In my opinion, they seem to be advocating Johnson. Which would be normal considering he’s the LP candidate. I just don’t agree. No need to make a big deal out of it.

          1. I am not making a big deal, I was just trying to point out that from what I have seen on this site the writers are pretty skeptical (to say the least) when it comes to Weld.

        2. Sod it, man. I am voting for Almanian!/Cthulhu 2016.

          1. I already swore my undivided allegiance to Almanian for Supreme Overlord as long as I get that czar job.

            1. Czar….I just want to be something like “war chieftain”


          In Hyperion’s defense, there really has been an “our time is at hand, rejoice!!!” air to the place with the L ticket being confirmed. Not all of us are enthusiastic about any warm body in a Libertarian suit. It feels an awful lot like a hollow victory.

          It’s annoying to hear all the carping about how Reason is too this, Reason is too that, but I occasionally stoop to moaning about all the Trump and COLLEGE OH NOES when the writers could be talking markets. So I can empathize a bit.

          1. I was just stating that I have not seen anyone write anything pro-Weld. Gosh. This election is going to make me into an S.O.B.

            1. Calm down, Crusty, no one is mad, at least not me.

              1. I am calm. Jeepers creepers.

                1. Ok, then get mad, damnit!

            2. I think you both were making fine, mild points, is what I’m saying.


              1. Crusty was trying to other me, EVERYONE knows it!

              2. Boobies of appeasement are good.

              3. aka QUISLING TITTYS!

              4. BOOBIES OF APPEASEMENT 2016!

                If you’re going to elect boobs, at least elect actual boobs.

  2. Please stop.

    1. They can’t. It’s like a brain virus. Trump is inside their heads, they’re obsessed.

      1. I rue every election cycle.

    2. Stop what? Sallying forth?

      Perhaps you meant this.

      1. Collaborate and listen, duh.

        1. I am disgusted by that reference.

          1. Hey, if you’ve got a problem, I’ll solve it.

            1. Gah! Stop making me sing the song to myself! NO!

  3. As long as the right person is in charge with all the power, the libya military intervention would have been perfectly executed. This is not a surprising argument. However, pretty hilarious that Trump seems to think that he could somehow more effectively direct our military. Is this claim even worth talking about?

    1. He might have a fine point. Hillary should predictably have a hell of a time with the military.

      On the other hand, if the sole qualification were how well one gained efficiency from a loyal military we could always elevate John Cena to the position.

      1. I don’t have an opinion on if Hillary would handle the military better than Trump. I’d imagine both would do a pretty bad job.

        I hope to god having a loyal military isn’t a sole qualification for the presidency. I’m sorry if you thought that was something that I implied in my comment.

        1. I’m not sure where there would have been a good way to just oust a leader like that and leave a vacumn that in all likelihood was going to be filled by radical Jihadists. So the only smart decision was to leave bad enough alone.

        2. No, I didn’t think you were implying anything. I read it as, “Trump says he can more effectively direct the military? Valid Point – Or Not?” And proceeded to answer whether I conclude this was a valid point, with illustrations to expand upon my answer. Military cohesion and morale under Hillary could, in my view, affect her ability to effectively direct the military, and this guided my answer.

          Conslusion: Yes, he has a point, but not much of one.

          1. Again, I don’t feel qualified enough to compare whether Hillary or Trump would be better as directing the military at POTUS. I am pretty sure they would both suck. I don’t think John Cena would be very good at it either, for what it’s worth.

            I don’t agree with your conclusion about Trump “having a point” about something, but I guess that’s that.

    2. The fact is that the US military was actively trying to avoid engagement with Libya, and was in back channel discussion with the Libyan regime to avert conflict. Clinton and Obama ordered such contact to cease.


      1. The point is that Trump maybe would have listened to his military advisors rather than a cabal of R2P hacks.

  4. OT. Has anyone seen this?

    Obama administration officials called the Gold King Mine disaster in Colorado an “accident,” but an analysis from The Daily Caller News Foundation of government documents and public statements makes clear the disaster was anything but accidental.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intentionally opened up the abandoned mine, which unleashed 3 million gallons of toxic waste into nearby rivers that residents of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and the Navajo Nation depend upon for drinking water.


    I have never believed it was an accident. No one so stupid they think they can plug up a stream of running water and not know the water would back up and either come out somewhere else or burst through the plug. This is incredible.

    1. They weren’t worried because the mine project was overseen by EPA Chief Administrator King Canute, who had a plan.

      1. You know who else had a plan?

        1. John “Hannibal” Smith?

        2. The Star Spangled Man?

        3. Mike D with the master plan?

        4. Black Adder?

          1. A cunning plan? So cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel?

        5. Light Yagami?

    2. Federal agency under the direction of a Democratic administration, both of which are reviled by conservatives, fucks up badly?

      Must be the GOP’s fault.

    3. “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intentionally opened up the abandoned mine, which unleashed”

      A supernatural abomination which had been slumbering under the earth for thousands of years?

      Oh, whew, what a relief, it was only toxic waste.

      You had me worried for a moment.

      1. There was no CO2 in the water. That’s the only pollutant that matters to the EPA anymore.

    4. Why does this matter? The EPA said that there was nothing toxic in that water.

      1. I would have cut them some slack if not for the immediate ass-covering, industry-blaming, and intellectual cover given by the media.

        No, fuck you. BP (rightfully, imo) did not have any slack cut for their responsibility. Neither should the EPA.

        1. The EPA is us, you won’t cut us any slack?

          1. Government is just the things we choose to do together, poorly.

    5. It’s not shocking…

      There was that prescient letter to the editor published two weeks before the accident by a mining engineer that predicted the whole thing, and claimed the EPA was doing it so that when the toxic waste spilled out, the mine would be declared a superfund site justifying the EPA opening an office there.

      As RC Dean points out you get more of what you reward, and the EPA is rewarded whenever pollution is created.

      1. It is not surprising but the general state of affairs still shocks the conscience.

        1. You’re right. It is shocking in that it’s a brazen piece of bad acting on the part of the EPA. The report itself is *unsurprising* in that it confirms what people had been claiming previously. And it’s pretty shameful that we are not surprised by such shockingly bad behavior.

        2. My conscience is far past shocking when it comes to either the incompetence or the malice of the US government.

      2. tartan gets to the heart of the matter. You get more of what you reward.

        I wonder how many other times they have done shit like this and we just don’t know about it.

  5. I’m just going to pretend this was a pithy, well-sourced article from de Rugy.

    Well done, that gal! Would read and thumbs up again!

    1. Is this that augmented reality I’ve heard so much about? If so, please tell me where I can get a piece of that action.

      1. You see, if you close your eyes and wish really hard, there is less Trump and someone besides Chapman talking economics.


  6. They can’t even Captain Hindsight Libya.

    1. Yeah. Low hanging fruit and they leave it be…

      1. I always assume low hanging fruit is bait for a snare.


  7. Gaddafi already had a surgical strike in the form of a combat knife stuck up his butt followed by rapid blood loss at the hands of a mob.

    President Pantsuit McEvil is an inevitability.

  8. Mr. Weld gave a single-word response about whether Mrs. Clinton was a good secretary of state: “Yes.”

    the fuck?

    1. Sounds like the loyalty-to-all-other politicians crap from someone who markets themselves as being a “centrist who can reach across the aisle.”

      1. Exactly this

    2. It’s Weld’s inner establishment coming out. You can take the east coast democrat lite establishment boy out of Massholio, but you can’t take the Massholio out of the boy.

      Why is this guy on the LP ticket? Gary should have continued on the pots, I think quitting fried his neurons.

      1. Gary Johnson got idea of William Weld VP between his sixth and seventh bong his on March 7, 2016. His mind wasn’t quite knife-sharp at the time but he still thinks it was a good idea.

        1. his – hit

    3. Look at the headline on that NYT article:

      “William Weld Says He Sees Nothing ‘Criminal’ in Hillary Clinton’s Email Use”

      1. Oh, there I go again, subjecting the LP ticket to a “purity test.”

        1. it’s fair for weld. i think, in our wildest dreams, we can hope he brings in more interest in the party this year…. but if they win, Gary better not die.

      2. Translation ‘As soon as these libertarian fools get me inside the Whitehouse, I’m gonna do the same thing or worse, bwahhahaaahhhhhaaahhhaaa’.

  9. Start working from home! Great job for students, stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income… You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection… Make $98 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom and signing up… You can have your first check by the end of this week…

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  10. What’s more important is how we’re going to save Medicare/Medicaid.

    1. Bernie will just sprinkle some magical fairy dust and *poof*, free healthcare for all!

      1. fairy dust and *poof*

        Easy, Hyp. There might be an SJW lurker out there that reads this the wrong way and has a seizure.

        1. There might be an SJW lurker out there that reads this the wrong way and has a seizure.

          fairy dust and *poof* fairy dust and *poof* fairy dust and *poof* fairy dust and *poof* fairy dust and *poof* fairy dust and *poof* fairy dust and *poof* fairy dust and *poof* fairy dust and *poof* fairy dust and *poof* fairy dust and *poof* fairy dust and *poof*… I have to rest now…

    2. Realistically? After the catastrophic global cascade collapse, mankind will program diagnostic robots to handle much of the physical and mental labor.

      Tell your grandchildren to watch for the ensuing bull market, it ought to be a doozy.

  11. Johnson and Weld can win without demonizing their opponents. Even though Trump is pure evil and Hillary is just plain horrid.

    1. If saying your opponent is unqualified is demonization, then what *can* candidates say about each other?

      1. “You’re mean!”

        “No, you’re mean for calling me mean!”


  12. Speaking of Clinton, the White House has decided, in defiance of open records requests and the spirit of FOIA, to simply not release her emails about the TPP until after the election.

    So……fuck you, American people that would like to know what she was saying about it as it happened as opposed to her new, canned talking points.

    1. FTA: State Department originally said it estimated the request would be completed by April 2016. Last week the agency said it had completed the search process for the correspondence but also said it was delaying the completion of the request until late November 2016 ? weeks after the presidential election. The delay was issued in the same week the Obama administration filed a court motion to try to kill a lawsuit aimed at forcing the federal government to more quickly comply with open records requests for Clinton-era State Department documents.

      Fuck you, that’s why.

  13. Since Paul dropped out of the race I kinda lost my steam. He was the only one I could vote for without saying I picked the least stinky turd.

    Every single person in the race now has some kind of deal breaker for me. Clinton is corrupt and a gun-grabber, the idiot old commie is…well, he’s a commie, The LP ticket is more or less anti-gun, and Trump is pro-eminent domain.

    Despite Clinton being the single worst candidate since ever and the only person who can make Obama not the worst president ever we got two dog turd articles this morning pushing her. Both of those articles were dishonest and absurd, but then they were written by Hillary supporters.

    Trump is the only one who says he will not try to take my guns, so I am going to stick to my guns.

    1. Here’s a fucking crazy idea! Don’t vote for *any* of them!!!!!!!

      If none of them are acceptable, don’t vote for any of them!!!!!

      Go take your wife out to dinner; work on a home improvement project; put in a few extra hours at work; take your kids out for an ice cream; go for a bike ride; or whatever else gives you pleasure!

      You really don’t have to vote for a monster! Sure, a monster is going to be plopping his fat ass in the oval office and do bad things; but you don’t have to be a part of it!

      1. Amen.

      2. I’m not going to vote, but mostly on principle, not because it means I’m not part of it. Unfortunately I’m part of it whether I like it or not.

  14. I’m not being hyperbolic here. I’m serious when I say that Trump seems so intellectually uncurious that I don’t see how he runs a business of any size, let alone the ones he does (albeit with a bankruptcy here and there and copious use of lawsuits). He says objectively stupid things. And then he backtracks and says more stupid things! I don’t understand it. I’ve always called him a buffoon, but I assumed he had some smarts to get where he was. That assumption is long gone.

    1. And another thing. I know it’s probably been said before, but he is the candidate we would have if Chauncey the gardener had run for office.

      1. When Chauncey spoke, people interpreted his simple gardening advice as supposedly profound thoughts but at least they were relatively benign interpretations. That can’t be said for Trump or Clinton. No matter how you look at their verbal ejaculations there is nothing benign to be found.

  15. Per Politics 1 website there are 500+ candidates for President USA in 2016
    Somehow I am drawn to Transhumanist Zoltan Istvan.
    “Humankind’s Savior? When we’re all glowing, immortal orbs, we’ll probably have Zoltan Istvan to thank.” Playboy

  16. “Surgical war”

    Only licensed, board-certified surgeons are allowed to fight

    1. And they can only use scalpels that were made in America.

  17. We came, We saw, He died…….and so did “they”, but it was just a demonstration due to a video.

  18. Is Weld actually a double agent working for the RNC?

    If Clinton was a “good Secretary of State” then can Weld name a poor secretary? Or even a mediocre one?

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