President Barack Obama has strongly criticized the leaders of Great Britain and France for their policy toward Libya after the 2011 overthrow of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, saying that he was mistaken to believe the U.S.’ European allies would be “more invested in the follow-up” to Qaddafi’s fall.
Obama made the remarks in an interview with The Atlantic magazine. The criticisms of British Prime Minister David Cameron, in particular, are some of the strongest of a sitting U.K. leader by a sitting president.
In the interview, Obama calls the situation in Libya a “mess” in part because he says Cameron became “distracted by a range of other things.”
“When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong, there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans,” Obama says.
Obama also said that he had warned Cameron that the so-called “special relationship” between Britain and the U.S. would end if the London government did not commit to spending 2 percent of its GDP on defense.
“Free riders aggravate me,” Obama says at one point in the interview.