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March 13th, 2011
03:36 PM ET

Letters to the President: #783 'And what about Libya?'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Events in Japan have captivated the world's attention, which is why in today's letter to the White House I'm writing about something else.

Dear Mr. President,

Timing, as you have probably heard, is everything. Well, most of the time. Ha! Kidding aside, I have had a serious thought about timing since yesterday. I suspect the earthquake in Japan may have occurred at precisely the right time to help Moammar Gadhafi hold onto power in Libya.

Think about it. After that initial surge by the anti-government forces, the long time Libyan leader was rallying his troops and counter-attacking. While his worldwide opponents were lobbing words at him, he was lobbing artillery shells at his foes closer to home. From this great distance it appeared that the momentum, pushed by heavy armaments, was already shifting in his favor. And now that the world's attention has been distracted, I have a feeling he will hammer down on the protesters with an even more focused vengeance, and pretty soon their movement will be nothing but a Wikipedia note.

Maybe not. Perhaps if they get some support from outside or somehow hold on to a few strongholds until the Japan crisis passes a bit, the world may return to considering their situation. But I would not bet on that.

Movements like the ones sweeping the Middle East, in my experience, seem to flare up, burn white hot for a while, and if they don't produce the change that people expect, they tend to crumble. On top of which, a furious offensive by a well-armed military can not only crush people, but can also destroy the will of even those who survive the assault.

You can't blame the world for turning its thoughts to Japan right now. But heaven knows how long that will last, and heaven knows what will happen in Libya before the world comes back to it. Like I said, timing is everything.

Not trying to be a downer, but just thought I'd mention it. Hope all is well.

Regards,
Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. William Miller

    Gaddafi has no reason to stop he will sacrifice people on both sides until he gets his rewards. The only way to to change the outcome is to place him under the same pressure he is putting on the opposition. Target Gaddafi continuously until he remits. Or maybe it is our policy to ignore it and it will go away. Maybe if we ignore it long enough ours will go away too!

    March 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  2. susan tarek ali

    hi,please sir we need your concentration about the demonstration in the east that asking the killer to leave away

    March 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  3. David from Oklahoma City

    The Libyan freedom fighters are asking "Where is the west?" While pondering the same question, I found myself thinking that the Libyans have never been our friends. And if we invest American dollars and American lives in a new Libya, will they then become our friends? Is our military asking the same question?

    March 14, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  4. Sophia

    People throughout the Middle East are finally standing up against the oppression that they have lived under for years. We in the West have wondered why don't the people of the Middle East revolt against oppression and make their voices heard? That time is upon us now, the people are struggling for freedom from tyranny and are demanding functional governments – two very basic and simple requests. But in order to accomplish freedom, the people of these countries need the West to help their struggle. So that begs the question...where is the leader of the free world? Missing from Leadership. To be a great country we must be able to inspire greatness and then support that desire for greatness. Well the people of the Middle East have shown that they are inspired and as they struggle against the military might of their despots they are begging the US for help. Unfortunately President Obama is missing yet another opportunity to step up and show the world that he can be a leader. He is unwilling to take a stand. Given this, I not only worry for what this means to the people of the Middle East who are struggling at this very moment, but even more so, I worry for what this means for the US. Because of Obama's inept, we are losing the love and trust of the people of this world, and this is will be a tremendous loss that will be impossible to regain.

    March 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  5. Enrique Lara

    No nuclear plants should be allowed to be built in eartquake zones, in any part of the world. Period. Until when are engineers going to learn the lesson!
    Enrique B. Lara
    Civil and Enviromental Engineer
    GA Tech (1981)

    March 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  6. Rich39

    Yes, how about Libya and the other 6 to 8 nations that have conflicts in Africa. Opps, I forgot the other nations don't have oil.
    The only nations the USA invades/attacks or helps(?) has something we need.

    March 14, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  7. Joan

    Please CNN do not let the freedom fighters of Libya down! While the Japanese earthquake is important as to loss of life, etc. The Libyan Freedom Fighters risk to lose much much more. They have showed us that they are willing to fight (and die) for their freedom. The Gaddafi regime is using the diversion of the Japan earthquake to their advantage. While it is sad for those in Japan who have lost their lives, it is important that we continue to support those in Libya who are fighting for their FREEDOM!

    March 14, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  8. jan holland

    This letter is so true and so sad. I can't understand why the world hasn't learned from the massacres of the past? Why does it take so long to make the moral and decent decision to do something to help these people?

    March 14, 2011 at 2:55 am |
  9. Graeme

    The Powers that Be,

    All the world is watching in horror and praying for the country of Japan in it's hour of need. God bless all those affected by this natural disaster.

    I would ask all leaders to also keep their attention on all the oppressed people who are struggling to overcome man-made disasters from keeping them free.

    Please help the people of Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, to overcome oppression so that they can contribute to a better world..

    Graeme M.

    March 14, 2011 at 2:38 am |
  10. Randy Howard

    Mr. Foreman,

    The President, along with the Secretary of State have both said to the American people and the World that Moammar Gadhafi must leave.

    Lets not sugar coat the facts. Moammar Gadafi
    is commiting genocide on the citizens of Libya. It may not be based on race, it is based on anyone who stands in his way.

    How as a American citizens can we be proud to be a American? The Preident speaks of freedom and liberty. Yet we stand by and watch people we urged on die for no reason.

    We kill terrorist along with innocent citizens with drone strikes. This has become common practice. Why do we not cut the head off the dragon instead of creating goverments? Moammar Gadhafi is one man. We have justified proof he is guilty of murder.

    Assassination is the answer. I have heard the arguements for both sides. We need to wake up to the new world.

    Disgraced American
    Randy Howard

    March 14, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  11. Steve

    Does the US really have a choice in regard to the situation in Libya?? If we don't push our allies in Europe to act, are we not complicit in allowing Gadhafi's regime to survive and continue to commit heinous crimes against Libyan citizens?

    March 13, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  12. Joe

    Agree 1000 percent, what good is it going to do to protect a people from there so called leader when there all dead. Throw them a life preserver already and quit talking about doing it.

    March 13, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  13. Darcy Aidar

    Dear Anderson

    Thank You !!!

    You are always doing a hard and important work,

    Please take care...

    Darcy

    March 13, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  14. Eiko Goto

    Why is anderson on shore "LIVE" broadcasting when there is a TSUNAMI warning on? All the japanese media has been reporting as of 11:12, there will be a at least 3meter tsunami coming on shore in Miyazaki and other areas. Hope everyone a safe place for shelter

    March 13, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  15. Patricia Eckton

    Reassured with Anderson Cooper reporting in Japan...it's devastating...be safe!

    March 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  16. Peggy Wimmer

    I am currently watching CNN where you are in Japan with Anderson Cooper. One reporter was in Minamisoma and was standing in the rubble. The wierd thing is that the road in the background is clear. Covered in dry mud but totally clear of any debris. I find it facinating that the Japanese people can clear the roads just 2 full days after the disaster. What an amazing infrastructure!

    March 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  17. Nancy

    Tom,

    You're not alone...I've been thinking the same thing. It's very depressing.

    March 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  18. Ed

    I have been in construction for 35 years. The reactors made it through the earthquake and tsumsmi but why were the emergency generators not protected in containment buildings the same as the reactors. It would seem that they would want to protect both. We live near St Lucie Nuclear Power Plant in Florida and the thought of the generators here being unprotected is terifying because of our hurricanes. Why do we need to learn after the damage is done?

    March 13, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  19. Nissrine

    I pray for the people of Japan, it is horrible what happened to them but I also pray for the innocent people in Libya thousands more will die because of a ruthless murderer.

    March 13, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  20. Elsa

    It's incredible how many more dire events President could unfold for him. It's amazing that any human being would want to become the president of the U.S.A. Just when the states' public workers (Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, etc) are jeopardized, Libya's people are struggling freedom from Ghadafi's human rights violations, – never mind all the other serious events that have transpired & still very much in play, Japan happened! I feel very bad for him.

    March 13, 2011 at 9:12 pm |