POLITICS
08/09/2014 12:49 pm ET | Updated Aug 11, 2014

Obama Reveals His Biggest Foreign Policy Mistake

If he could do it all over again, President Barack Obama might have done some things differently in Libya.

Sitting down on Friday with The New York Times, the president said that while America's intervention in Libya was ultimately the right thing to do, the international community didn't do enough to manage the political fallout that ensued shortly after.

"I absolutely believe it was the right thing to do. Had we not intervened, it's likely that Libya would be Syria because Gaddafi would not be able to contain what had been unleashed there," the president said.

In 2011, the United States joined an international coalition to help dislodge Muammar Gaddafi's regime because the Libyan leader posed an imminent threat to his own people. But in the last month, the situation in Libya has become extremely more tenuous -- so much so that several countries, including the U.S., have ordered evacuations of their embassies in Tripoli.

"I think we underestimated, our European parters underestimated, the need to come in full-force if you're going to do this. And it's the day after Gaddafi's gone, when everyone's feeling good and everybody's holding up posters saying, 'Thank you America,' at that moment there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies that didn't have any civic traditions," he said.

Obama drew a parallel to the current situation in Iraq, where he was forced to order airstrikes against Islamic State extremists threatening U.S. citizens in the Kurdish city of Irbil.

"So that's a lesson that I now apply every time I ask the question should we intervene militarily." Obama told the Times. "Do we have an answer for the day after?"

Watch more of the interview here.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

Attack On U.S. Compound In Benghazi
Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?

CONVERSATIONS