Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: The White House, like much of the world, is watching Libya around the clock now, wondering what each hour will bring. For the president, thankfully, each day brings a new letter from me.
Dear Mr. President,
It seems as if the clock is ticking down. Libya appears poised on the brink of either an all out stand by Gadhafi or a rout by the protesters. (Btw, it seems like we need a somewhat weightier title for a group that actually topples a government. Rebels? Revolutionaries? Coupsters? Protesters is an inadequate nom de guerre.) Which means, of course, that we are probably poised to face the aftermath, no matter which way it tips.
In some ways this is easier with Libya than it is with Egypt, because our relations in Gadhafi-land have been so bad for so long, the tendency would be to think that they probably can’t get much worse. If Gadhafi stands firm, he’ll beat his sword and continue to accuse us of helping the revolution arise in the first place. No surprise there and nothing we can do except say it’s not true.
If the anti-government forces win, however, the situation will be… as plumbers say… highly fluid. We will have to figure out not only who the new major players are, but we’ll also have to recognize that they could change day by day. We will have to simultaneously respect their right to choose their own future, and yet try to tilt the scales in favor of a new nation committed to the general rules of fair play that we, and all of our allies, would like to see in the world.
We have discovered in Iraq and Afghanistan, that this is a delicate operation. So here is my suggestion: As the uprising there plays toward its conclusion, this might be a very good time for you and your staff to review the relatively recent history of what we’ve seen in Iraq and Afghanistan - our successes and failures. The model in Libya will, of course, be different, and yet I suspect some of the general principles of respect, diplomacy, and cultural awareness may be applicable. Above all, I think we will have to bear in mind that as much as we have strong interests in what happens in Libya, and Egypt, and other nations in the Middle East, their interests are stronger. It is, after all, their home. And if we are nervous watching the events unfold there, imagine how much more disquieting it must be to have the uncertainty that follows on your own doorstep.
Hope your Friday is progressing nicely and that, despite events, you enjoy a restful weekend. If you feel like calling, I think I will be around all weekend. If not, leave a message.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with