Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: With American help, the U.N.-sanctioned attacks on Libya have begun.
Dear Mr. President,
I can imagine nothing more difficult for any American president than making the decision to go to war - whether for a few days or for much longer. And of course, that is part of the challenge. It is hard to know once shooting begins just when and where it will end and, amid this new fighting in Libya, that is on my mind.
If we had some way of putting a stopwatch on these matters, I'm sure it would be easier to choose our course of action. I suppose if President George W. Bush knew precisely how Iraq would turn out, perhaps his ideas about that war would have been different. I'm not saying he would not have invaded, but maybe things would have played out in another way. (And I should note, as I often do, we still don't have any guarantees about the future there.)
As a result, I think the decision to enter war must consider two timelines - the one for which you hope and the one your fear you might get. The decision to engage must be one that holds up in each instance. If you get the quick, decisive action you are intending, you can consider it the result of good planning and great skill; and you can take the credit. If you get something else, however, I think a president must be equally ready to embrace the changed circumstances and dig in for the long haul, whatever that may mean...even if it means bailing out and taking the political heat for a bad decision in the first place.
In any event, I wish the very best for all of our troops around the world in any and all conflicts.
I'm sure you are too busy to call today, so don't be distracted.
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