Donald Trump said Sunday that he would have approved of removing Muammar Qaddafi as Libya's leader, an apparent shift in his foreign policy.
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he would have approved of a “surgical” strike to remove the country’s former prime minister, after telling voters earlier this year that the world would be better off with the dictator still in power.
“I didn't mind surgical,” said Trump, who has criticized the successful U.S.-NATO effort in 2011 to remove Qaddafi. “And I said surgical. You do a surgical shot and you take him out.”
Trump has been critical of the Obama administration foreign policy, including the decision to remove Qaddafi, which then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved.
“We came, we saw, he died,” Clinton, now the Democratic presidential front-runner, said at the time.
The removal of Qaddafi helped spark the so-called Arab Spring in the Middle East that attempted to replace authoritarian leaders with pro-democracy governments.
But the situation in Libya, in particular, devolved into chaos in the absence of a strong new government.
“We would be so much better off if Qaddafi would be in charge right now," Trump said in a debate in February, arguing the vacuum allowed the Islamic State to flourish. However, Trump acknowledged that Qaddafi and former Iraq leader Saddam Hussein were “really bad.”
Clinton has throughout the 2016 campaign touted her foreign policy experience, while hitting Trump, a first-time candidate and billionaire businessman.
“This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes -- because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin,” Clinton said last week in a foreign policy speech.
“This is a man who said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia. … He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.”