President Donald Trump believes the United States should focus solely on fighting the Islamic State in Libya. His comments on Thursday in a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni lend themselves to a Trump foreign policy doctrine beginning to coalesce around a powerful military with a willingness to use force, combined with a desire to limit the American global footprint as a whole.
Italy is on the front lines in handling a migrant crisis that has claimed the lives of thousands as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean into Europe. The lawlessness in Libya has only exacerbated the problem. There, criminals and human traffickers are exploiting the conditions for profit with open-air ‘slave markets’. The Italian prime minister said he hopes for a more robust U.S. involvement in stabilizing the country, beyond simply destroying the Islamic State.
“We need a stable and unified Libya,” said Gentiloni. “A divided country, and in conflict, would make civility worse.”
“I do not see a role in Libya,” Trump said. “I think the United States has, right now, enough roles. We’re in a role everywhere. So I do not see that. I do see a role in getting rid of ISIS. We’re being very effective in that regard,” he said. “We are effectively ridding the world of ISIS. I see that as a primary role, and that’s what we’re going to do, whether it’s in Iraq or in Libya or anywhere else. And that role will come to an end at a certain point.”
Libya has been thrown into chaos since the U.S.-led ouster of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. In the ensuing instability, a civil war has raged, allowing elements of the Islamic State to gain a foothold in the country. In 2015, the Islamic State released a polished propaganda video depicting the execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya, concluding with, “Today we are south of Rome. We will conquer Rome with Allah’s permission.”
Image courtesy of the Washington Times