Why Trump can’t use the ‘Libya model’ to oust Kim Jong Un

China may have influenced North Korea on nuclear talks: Trump
President Donald Trump said Thursday Chinese President Xi Jinping may have "influenced" North Korea after reports that Kim Jong-Un threatened to cancel U.S. nuclear talks over military exercises.

WATCH: North Korea ‘not in the driver’s seat’ on nuclear talks, WH says

Dazed, injured, beaten and bloodied, former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was sodomized with a bayonet and dragged through the streets of his hometown before he was killed by rebels on Oct. 20, 2011.

Then, in one final indignity, his body was put on public display in a freezer room for days before it was buried in an unknown location.

It was a brutal end for a brutal ruler brought down by his own people — along with help from NATO. In fact, it was a French airstrike that foiled Gaddafi’s last attempt to escape, delivering him into the hands of the rebels who killed him.

This is the demise U.S. President Donald Trump hinted at Thursday in his remarks about Kim Jong Un, whom he threatened to overthrow if North Korea does not engage in denuclearization talks.

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Trump said the U.S. wants to cut a deal with North Korea that will halt its nuclear program, boost its economy and leave Kim in power — but only if Kim shows up for a highly-anticipated meeting between the two leaders June 12. Otherwise, Trump suggested the U.S. will pursue “the Libya model” and remove Kim from power.

“The Libya model was a much different model. We decimated that country,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“We never said to Gaddafi, ‘Oh, we’re going to give you protection.’ We went in and decimated him, and we did the same thing with Iraq.”

The president’s comments came in an attempt to clarify remarks made by his national security adviser, John Bolton, who has called for a “Libya model” of denuclearization in recent TV appearances.

READ MORE: Trump distances himself from John Bolton’s remarks comparing North Korea and Libya

“He was talking about if we’re going to have a problem,” Trump said of Bolton. “That model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely.”

That model, as Trump describes it, actually can’t take place with North Korea. Here’s why.


Trump’s definition of the “Libya model” appears to be conflating two separate events involving Gaddafi: Libya’s denuclearization in 2003, and Gaddafi’s ousting and death in 2011.

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Bolton’s explanation of the Libya model relates only to denuclearization.

In 2003, Gaddafi surprised the world by announcing that Libya would give up its fledgling nuclear and chemical weapons programs in exchange for sanctions relief. Gaddafi had been facing pressure to do so from the U.S. and its NATO allies, but the global focus at the time was on the Iraq War — not Libya.

Gaddafi was not facing the threat of imminent invasion, and no effort was made to remove him from power.

Gaddafi effectively rolled out the red carpet for international inspectors, providing them with all the documents and access they needed to verify that his nuclear ambitions were over.

Bolton spoke specifically about this “Libya model” last month in an interview with CBS, saying that he wants North Korea to provide similar evidence of denuclearization if an agreement is reached.

READ MORE: ‘It’s like a mirage’: Is North Korea actually ready to give up its nukes?

“One thing that Libya did that led us to overcome our skepticism was that they allowed American and British observers into all their nuclear-related sites,” Bolton said.

“So it wasn’t a question of relying on international mechanisms. We saw them in ways we had never seen before.”

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Libya was seen as a rogue nation on the world stage for decades under Gaddafi. However, it wasn’t outside powers that ultimately brought about his demise.

Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011 by Libyan rebels inspired by the Arab Spring. The uprising came on the heels of similar revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, although those leaders ultimately survived their ousting.

The uprising sparked a civil war in February, prompting NATO to step in on the side of the rebels in March.

READ MORE: Where are ex-Libyan dictator Gaddafi's missing billions?

Gaddafi managed to hang on to his seat of power until August, when he was forced to flee the capital and go into hiding. The rebels caught up with him in October, and ultimately managed to get their hands on him thanks to the NATO airstrike that foiled his escape.


Ever a fan of personal attacks, Trump’s latest threat to Kim Jong Un carries with it the unspoken suggestion that Kim might suffer the same brutal fate as Gaddafi.

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Killing Kim in such a way would violate a number of international laws, including the Geneva Convention, which prohibits the abuse of prisoners of war.

Trump never actually threatened to have Kim beaten or maimed with a knife, as the rebels did to Gaddafi. However, he has openly advocated for actions that would constitute war crimes in the past.

WATCH BELOW: Donald Trump tells ‘Muslim Pig Blood’ story on the campaign trail — but is it true?

Donald Trump tells ‘Muslim Pig Blood’ story on the campaign trail – but is it true?
Donald Trump tells ‘Muslim Pig Blood’ story on the campaign trail – but is it true?

Trump has repeatedly called for Islamic State fighters to be shot with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood, citing the discredited tale of a U.S. general who supposedly did the same against Muslim enemies in the Phillippines.

“He had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people,” then-candidate Trump told a rally of enthusiastic supporters on the campaign trail in early 2016.

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“And the 50th person he said, ‘You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem.”

He’s also occasionally said the U.S. should’ve seized Iraqi oil wells as payment for its help.

International law prohibits countries from seizing civilian property for non-combat reasons. It also prohibits abusing captives, causing unnecessary suffering or using poisoned weapons.


North Korea has specifically cited the “Libya model” as a reason for why it should hold onto its nuclear weapons. The country has pointed out that Gaddafi agreed to surrender his nuclear arms, only to wind up dead less than a decade later.

WATCH BELOW: U.S. State Department says they are continuing on ‘notion’ meeting with Kim Jong Un will happen

U.S. State Department says they are continuing on ‘notion’ meeting with Kim Jong Un will happen
U.S. State Department says they are continuing on ‘notion’ meeting with Kim Jong Un will happen

A top North Korean official again rejected the notion of the “Libyan model” on Wednesday, in response to Bolton’s comments.

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“It is absolutely absurd to dare compare the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), a nuclear weapons state, to Libya, which had been at the initial stage of nuclear development,” said Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s first vice-minister of foreign affairs, in a statement released by the Korean Central News Agency.

READ MORE: North Korea says it may scrap summit with U.S., calls denuclearization demands ‘one-sided’

Kye Gwan dismissed Bolton’s “Libya model” as a “sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya and Iraq, which had been brought down due to yielding the whole of their countries to the big powers.”

He added that North Korea will not be threatened into accepting a one-sided deal to surrender its weapons, although it is interested in denuclearization under the right circumstances.

“If the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such a dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit.”

WATCH BELOW: China may have influenced North Korea on nuclear talks: Trump

China may have influenced North Korea on nuclear talks: Trump
China may have influenced North Korea on nuclear talks: Trump