April 1st, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #802 'Hard choices in Libya'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The White House seems to be simultaneously hoping for good news from Libya, and yet backing rapidly away from any further military support for the opposition there. That’s what I’m writing about in today’s letter to the president.

Dear Mr. President,

After all the events you have been dealing with over the past few weeks, you must hate to go into a Friday facing a tough question, and yet it seems as if one is before you.

Just days ago you said that the United States could not stand by and watch Moammar Gadhafi slaughter his own citizens to secure his future power. And yet, now, as NATO takes over control of the fight in Libya, it appears that such an event is still a real possibility.

Simultaneously, you and your team have made it clear that you have no intention of putting American troops on the ground in Libya.

So now what?

I’m not asking this in a snarky way, because the subject matter is just too grave. But seriously, what are you going to do if NATO airstrikes are unable to stop Gadhafi’s forces, and the bloodbath you said you would not tolerate begins? It seems to me that you have (whatever your intentions) set up competing promises, and you could well find yourself stuck with abandoning one of them.

Of course, maybe not. Maybe events in Libya will play out in a way that threads this needle. Certainly the fact that some of Gadhafi’s inside men are abandoning him would seem to be a good sign. But the way that his troops are now driving the rebels back like sheep is not.

Raising children taught my wife and me to be very careful about making threats and/or promises. To the point: You must not utter them unless you can back them up. Drawing lines in the sand is easy. Making them hold up amid the winds of war is another matter altogether.

Call if you get a moment.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate


    Obama said very plainly that he would not put our forces on the ground in Libya. So the only power we hold over Gadhafi are our planes in the air and our dollars for oil. Neither seem to faze him much; the call of continued power must be drowning them out.

    If the desired solution on the part of the Libyans is regime change and freedom yet they cannot effect that regime change because they are out-gunned, out-maneuvered, and out-trained, then perhaps some good intel as to where Gadhafi is and a smart bomb is the swiftest way to get to the desired destination – Gadhafi gone and an opportunity for the people to select their own leader. And Obama will not have to put our troops on the ground there.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  2. William Miller

    It seems to me the presidents hands have been tied by the the international community. I'm sure however he meant what he said, "Gadhafi must go". I only wish he had said Gadhafi will go. There is no other solution to this problem. It would appear Gadhafi is finally beginning to comprehend that fact. It is obvious his partners in crime get it. So unless he is willing to assassinate all those close to him he will find his justice in court. All those who are willing to support him to the bitter end should consider the growing anger of the world. I can guarantee the people in this world will not tolerate any compassion by the International Criminal Court by those who continue to participate in these crimes. So I have confidence Gadhafi will go soon. Mr. president You have not been a confusion in my mind, and I believe You drew the line in the sand with intent.
    Good job Mr. president.

    April 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  3. Clarisse Hamblin

    Hey Anderson, Do you have any idea what the lybian rebels represent?

    April 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans are leading people to believe Libya is some kind of "super war power" that the U.S. needs to go all in on Libya. Libya is no super war power and the U.S. would look like bullies going all in on them and President Obama is right to use NATO and a coalition. And yes, we can take Gadhafi out, all in time.

    April 1, 2011 at 1:34 pm |