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March 21st, 2011
09:45 AM ET

Gergen: What is Obama's endgame in Libya?

David Gergen
CNN Senior Political Analyst

Editor's note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four U.S. presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Cambridge, Massachusetts (CNN) - After conversations with top players in Washington last week, mostly as I accompanied a group of Zuckerman Fellows from Harvard on a field trip, here are some brief reflections on the mood there toward events in the Middle East:

• The head-snapping change in policy toward Libya has everyone guessing where the Mideast is heading, whether the U.S. has a good handle, and most of all, what President Obama is trying to achieve.

• One irony, as a female friend put it, is that for years many of us believed that if only more women could gain power, the world would surely become more peaceful. Yet, we now see that the three people who talked Obama into using force against Libya's Moammar Gadhafi were all women - Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power. Leading male advisers were opposed. Perhaps we should be less surprised than we are. Remember Margaret Thatcher? And Golda Meir? And remember, too, that both were seen as successful leaders for most of their time in office.

• There are divisions in Washington about the president's actions, but most - including me - believe Hillary & Co. had the better argument. If anything, the U.S. delayed too long, allowing Gadhafi to gain the upper hand on the ground.

• But what is the president's endgame in Libya? And what is his strategy for the Middle East more generally? Who can say for sure?

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soundoff (One Response)
  1. PhilB

    There really is no confusion on the US mission in Libya. Obama and his staff have determined that the best solution is for the removal of their leader. However in cooperation with the UN order, the US will ONLY defend citizens and stop aggressive military operations.
    Stop confusing Obamas OPINION with the UN Directives... There is no confusion here...

    March 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm |