March 30th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #800 'Be careful about the man on the ropes'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama is watching the developments in Libya by the hour, and what is coming tomorrow is far from certain. Uh…except my next, daily letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

The great boxer Muhammad Ali won many victories with his now infamous rope-a-dope technique. He would collapse against the side of the ring, stagger for a few rounds, and when it appeared that he was ready to fall in a badly beaten heap, he would roar to life. In a few furious seconds he would destroy his opponent who appeared so certain of victory just moments ago.

With that in mind, I have been surprised over the past 48 hours at the number of people asking questions such as: What will the new Libyan government look like? Who will its leaders be? Where will Gadhafi go?

In case these members of the chattering class have not noticed, Moammar Gadhafi (at least as of this writing) is still in power. He still has a military. And he still seems to be giving about as good as he is getting from opposition forces. In other words, there is a big difference between being on the ropes and being out of the fight, as Ali demonstrated so many times.

Could Gadhafi fold in the very near future? Sure.

But it would also not be surprising to see him hang on for weeks, or months, or even years. Think about Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and others who seemed so destined for imminent doom at some point and yet stuck around a very long time. You said in your speech that history is against Gadhafi. I understand your point: Tyrants often come to bad ends. But his supporters could just as easily argue that recent history is for him. He has stayed in power for 42 years because he has a historic tendency to hunker down, get tough, and beat his opponents - no matter how formidable and confident they may seem.

Fights, like operas, are not over until the fat lady sings. And while she may be ready to burst into song outside Tripoli, at this point in the bout I’m not sure she has even warmed up.

Btw, speaking of long struggles, did you notice that this is my 800th letter to you? I know that’s a lot, but don’t worry if you haven’t been able to read them all; I’ll write another one tomorrow. Ha!


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. Jerome Puetz

    Arabian spring

    For the last 40-50 yrs our policy has been to support dictators at the cost of the people of those countries. In part this is what helped create al-Qaeda and terrorist mind sets against the then super powers of Russia and USA.
    The government which we the American people fund is directed by corporate American, and other international big bucks powers. Their minds sets are protect the Oil, protect their profits. In the case of Libya its Italian, French, and British Oil interest that’s being defended and the new Obama Doctrine forced on to him by the recent events in Egypt and across the Arabic countries. The revolts by this people were inevitably going to happen you can only suppress truth for a short time in the new information age.
    The promotion of Democracy is currently being forced on U.S. policy makers.
    Lest they be seen as hypocrites and the general populous of Americans the same,
    So if we the American people truly believe in freedom we need to put our money were are mouths are or quit buying Oil from these dictators.

    March 30, 2011 at 10:57 am |