Award-winning journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave gives President Barack Obama low marks for his handling of the rebellion in Libya and says the crisis is a European problem, not an American one.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, de Borchgrave also asserts that the United States doesn’t know who is really behind the rebels, declares that Moammar Gadhafi is definitely a target, but says the Libyan leader will likely survive and fight on in a partitioned Libya.
A 30-year veteran of Newsweek magazine and a Newsmax correspondent, de Borchgrave is now director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and editor-at-large at United Press International and The Washington Times. He has interviewed Gadhafi six times.
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In his Newsmax interview, de Borchgrave gives Obama a “2 or 3” out of 10 ratings for his handling of the Libyan situation. Obama was on a visit to Latin America “when this happened, and he clearly wasn’t on top of the project,” he observes.
“He not only had failed to consult Congress, he had failed to inform Congress, so everything was wrong from my standpoint.”
Referring to calls from some that Obama should be impeached for authorizing an attack on Libya, de Borchgrave says: “I don’t think impeached is the word, but he’s already punished himself.
“We’re already spending $200 million on the limited military operation. We’ve lost an F-15 — that’s about $50 million. And while the administration says they’re not going to request extra funding from Congress for the time being, when it reaches a billion the law says they have to go to Congress for a supplementary.”
Asked whether Obama has explained adequately why the United States is involved in Libya and what is at stake for America, de Borchgrave responds: “No, I don’t think anybody can figure out why we’re involved. America’s interests have nothing to do with Libya. Our interests are in the Persian Gulf where there is plenty of political and military action already, all the way from Oman up to Kuwait and across the Middle East — Syria, Egypt, Tunisia.”
Noting that Libya supplies much of Europe’s imported oil, de Borchgrave declares: “Libya is a European problem.”
The Obama administration has sent mixed messages about whether Gadhafi is a target. De Borchgrave comments: “Of course he’s a target, but the U.S. is no longer engaged in that kind of covert operation. Assassination would be left to another intelligence service that doesn’t operate under such restrictions.
“What worries me most about Gadhafi is that he has these huge underground facilities, a maze of tunnels and rooms where he also keeps about $7 billion in gold bullion stashed.”
Asked whether the United States is prepared for whoever might end up in power in Libya, de Borchgrave responds: “We don’t even know who is in the eastern part of the country. They could be Hezbollah. They could be Hamas. They could be partly al-Qaida. They could be Tehran’s theocrats. We don’t have a good handle on who the insurgents are.
“We know a couple of Gadhafi’s ministers have defected to their camp, but beyond that we don’t know too much and I assume that the CIA and other intelligence agencies are very busy in Benghazi trying to figure out who is doing what to whom.
“I feel we are moving toward a partition of the country. It will be a divided Libya much the way Germany was divided, and [Gadhafi] will go on surviving, fighting all of this from his underground facilities. It could go on for a very long time.”
De Borchgrave also issued a grave warning about the threat posed by another Muslim country: Pakistan.
“I think Pakistan is where you should look if we are trying to pinpoint the threat of a nuclear caliphate,” he says.
“The only nuclear power in the Muslim world is Pakistan. And Pakistan today is the world’s most dangerous situation, far more dangerous than anything you’re reading about in the Middle East or the Persian Gulf or North Africa. That’s where most of the world’s terrorist organizations are based.
“So while we’ve been focused on the Middle East, the real danger point is Pakistan.”
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