Donald Trump often rails against U.S. intervention in the Middle East that topples dictators whose exits lead to unstable regional consequences like the rise of ISIS and other terrorist groups.
But one intervention he has subsequently come to pan — the 2011 U.S. intervention in Libya, which led to the toppling of longtime leader Muammar al-Qaddafi — Trump once very loudly called for on humanitarian grounds.
"I mean, look at Libya," Trump said on CNN's State of the Union last year. "Look at Iraq. Iraq used to be no terrorists. He [Saddam Hussein] would kill the terrorists immediately, which is like, now it's the Harvard of terrorism. If you look at Iraq from years ago, I'm not saying he was a nice guy — he was a horrible guy — but it was a lot better than it is right now. Right now, Iraq is a training ground for terrorists. Right now, Libya, nobody even knows Libya, frankly there is no Iraq and there is no Libya. It's all broken up. They have no control. Nobody knows what's going on."
When asked if the world would be better with Qaddafi in power, Trump said, "100%."
Trump made similar comments on Meet the Press this year as well.
"You wouldn't have had your Benghazi situation," said Trump. "It's not even a country."
The comments are a sharp contrast for Trump from 2011, when, on his video blog, he pushed hard for the United States to intervene in Libya.
"I can't believe what our country is doing," said Trump on his video blog. "Qaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people, nobody knows how bad it is, and we're sitting around we have soldiers all have the Middle East, and we're not bringing them in to stop this horrible carnage and that's what it is: It's a carnage."
Trump said Libya could end up one of the worst massacres in history, and it would be very easy to topple Qaddafi.
"You talk about things that have happened in history; this could be one of the worst," he said. "Now 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. This is absolutely nuts. We don't want to get involved and you're gonna end up with something like you've never seen before."
Trump said the people would take over from Qaddafi eventually and then "they should pay us back" out of appreciation.
"But we have go in to save these lives; these people are being slaughtered like animals," he said. "It's horrible what's going on; it has to be stopped. 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."
Then, "After it's all done," Trump said, the protesters who took over the country would reimburse the U.S. through oil.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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