The U.S.’ response to the conflict undermined the change promised by Obama and the Democrats. It led to a scandal involving Hillary Clinton, and refugee crisis that Trump connected to immigration.

In March 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “forcefully urged” Obama to take military action against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, fulfilling Ronald Reagan’s wet dream of toppling the “mad dog of the Middle East.” Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was based on hope and change, and though there were no “boots on the ground” in Libya (save for special forces), this was not the type of change many Obama voters were looking for. When Occupy Wall Street erupted in September later that year, disenfranchised voters on the left flocked to the movement. Turned off by the corporatism and militarism of establishment Democrats, many of them would go on to support Bernie Sanders a few years later, the major challenger to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primaries.

The Libyan Civil War also led to the infamous Benghazi scandal in September 2012, when American ambassador Chris Stevens was killed. The official reasoning behind the attack was that it was caused by an anti-Islamic YouTube video, while anyone with half a brain began to question that little narrative. To cut to the chase, a covert CIA operation was smuggling Gaddafi-era weapons from Libya to Turkey, before being delivered to anti-Assad jihadis rebels in Syria, as reported by Business Insider. Some weapons got into the hands of some bad people too soon, who attacked the U.S. compound in Benghazi. The cover-up that followed was a public relations disaster for the Obama administration, and particularly Hillary Clinton, who was grilled about her connection to the incident/operation in an 11-hour hearing in January 2015. Though no wrongdoing was established, Hillary’s image became tainted by the scandal, and Trump used the affair to portray her as lying and untrustworthy.

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The Libyan Civil War resulted in the collapse of the Libyan government, and rival factions have been competing for control ever since. The country has become a major launching pad for refugees and migrants looking to get to Europe because there is no longer a government capable of regulating the flow of people in and out of the country. Millions have flocked to Europe in the last few years, often from Libya, including members of the Islamic State. As terrorist attacks began to increase in Europe (coupled with a major attack in Florida), Trump was quick to draw connections to the peril facing the U.S. from uncontrolled migration. Europe, the homeland of white America, was depicted by Trump as being overrun by violent foreigners, a parallel to what was happening in the U.S. from drug cartels, rapists and criminals. Europe was already touted by Trump as a lost cause, but America was still capable of being saved, so long as they elected him. Immigration steadily became a major issue in the 2016 election, influenced directly by the refugee crisis in Europe.

Were it not for the U.S. intervention in the Libyan Civil War, Trump’s path to the presidency would have been much more difficult. It helped divide the political left, tarnished Hillary’s reputation, and played into white America’s concerns over non-white immigration. The Libyan Civil War is still ongoing, demonstrating that the U.S. and European countries that pushed for the intervention had little idea as to what they intended to do after Gaddafi’s departure. The rise of the far-right in the U.S. and Europe in recent years began in Libya, and the establishment left have only themselves to blame.🔷

(Cover: Flickr / BRQ Network - A rebel mans an anti-aircraft gun in Ras Lanuf, REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic, 8 March 2011.)