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article imageObama critical of U.K. role after Gadaffi defeated in Libya

By Ken Hanly     Mar 10, 2016 in Politics
Washington D.c. - In an interview in the April issue of Atlantic, Obama lashes out at David Cameron for losing interest in developments in Libya after the coalition bombing campaign.
Rather than being burdened with being the leader in military interventions after problems and casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has attempted when possible to ensure that other countries lead interventions and serve as proxies fighting for U.S. interests in return for a share in power and any benefits that might result.
In the case of Libya, it was countries such as the UK and France who were anxious to overthrow Gadaffi and Obama encouraged them to take the lead. While the UK and France did support the campaign to degrade the power of Gadaffi's forces, after the war was over, they lost interest, allowing the present chaotic situation to develop.
Obama made his criticism of the UK and David Cameron in a long article and interview in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for the magazine. Obama told Goldberg that free riders aggravated him. Obama even warned the UK that if it did not increase its spending on defense to at least 2 percent of GDP, then the UK will no longer be able to claim a "special relationship" with the U.S. Obama told UK Prime Minister David Cameron: "You have to pay your fair share." The UK has since reached the two percent spending level on defense.
Obama insisted the anti-Gadaffi campaign receive a UN mandate, and European and Gulf countries should be actively involved in the coalition, although with its unique capabilities the U.S. would be a key player. Other countries, however, were expected to carry their weight. Obama said: 'And we worked with our defense teams to ensure that we could execute a strategy without putting boots on the ground and without a long-term military commitment in Libya. So we actually executed this plan as well as I could have expected: We got a UN mandate, we built a coalition, it cost us $1 billion—which, when it comes to military operations, is very cheap.
We averted large-scale civilian casualties, we prevented what almost surely would have been a prolonged and bloody civil conflict. And despite all that, Libya is a mess.'
Obama claims he had too much faith in the Europeans investing more in followup operations. For his part, Cameron defended the coalition Libya action in December 2015, telling the Spectator magazine that Libya was better off without Gadaffi: “What we were doing was preventing a mass genocide. Then, as you say, the coalition helped those on the ground to get rid of the Gaddafi regime and it’s very disappointing that there hasn’t been an effective successor regime.”
More about UK US relations, President barack obama, Libya
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