Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: As of this writing, President Obama is leaving the door open to the idea of supplying the Libyan rebels with arms. So I am supplying him with yet another letter.
Dear Mr. President,
Here is a rule of thumb that I have gleaned from a parade of late night movies: Never hand a gun to the other guy unless you are absolutely certain he is your friend. Not a bad thing to keep in mind as you and your team debate the idea of opening up the great American arms funnel for the opposition forces in Libya.
Let’s run some pluses and minuses.
Plus: If you give them some top flight weapons, they will have more ability to stand their ground against Gadhafi’s better armed military.
Minus: If they don’t really know how to use them, you’re going to have to include training, and that will mean U.S. troops on the ground in Libya.
Plus: If the rebels win, they will be beholden to the United States and presumably an ally as they take control of the country.
Minus: If they lose, all those great weapons will fall into the hands of Gadhafi, and… uh…he’ll shoot them at us if we try to intercede again.
Plus: If we support the rebels through the whole process, they will be grateful.
Minus: If we give them big weapons and then get cold feet, backing away from the training and support they need to produce victory, even if they survive, they will resent our lack of commitment. They will feel as if we egged them on, but ran away when the going got tough. Did you see “Charlie Wilson’s War”? Such arrangements don’t end well for us.
Plus: They are fighting an old enemy whom we would like to see booted out of office.
Minus: We don’t really know who “they” are yet - their real goals, their true allegiances. So we can’t really say if the guns we give them today will remain in friendly hands tomorrow.
Like I said, the decision is up to you. But my dad told me years ago that you should never point a gun at anything you don’t want to shoot. Same goes for giving guns away. Be careful about handing one to anyone, unless you have a pretty good idea which way he is going to point it. Call if you get a moment. Busy day, but I’ll make time to talk.
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