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Slade Gorton

A former U.S. senator and Washington state attorney general, Slade Gorton served on the 9/11 Commission.
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Going half way on Libya

The Obama speech was half an explanation (a real improvement over the vacillation of the last several weeks) but still no clear guidance as to how the means, our participation in air attacks to save civilian lives, relates to the end the president has sought from the beginning: Gaddafi's removal from Libya and the country’s liberation.

The president could have said weeks ago that we had no national interest in Libya, apparently his present position with respect to Syria. That might have been deemed cowardly, but it would have divorced us from the conflict and left us no worse off. Instead, he demanded the end of the Gaddafi regime but did nothing to bring that end to pass until the very last moment, after much civilian loss of life. During that extended interval, he consulted with the Arab League and the UN, but not with our own Congress--apparently a far less important body.

Now we have arrested the slaughter, for which the president is to be commended, but we don't know where to go next. If we are really fortunate, the Gaddafi regime will collapse, or we will cause it to do so while pretending not to exceed the UN mandate. If we are not fortunate, there will be a standoff with Libya divided in two. Then we will be involved for the long run in a Mid East even less stable than it was at the start.

We should never enter a war half way and with an indecisive goal. Regrettably, that is where we stand today.

Slade Gorton  | Mar 29, 2011 7:42 PM

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