Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass
warns Moammar Gadhafi has the upper hand against rebels seeking to topple his regime, the Libyan tyrant is likely to prevail, and the United States should be careful to avoid a long-term situation where the country once again has its troops on the ground “in the middle of an intervention that is not thought through.”
“It looks like the balance of forces, if you will, is on Mr. Gadhafi’s side -- he is likely to prevail,” Haass Friday said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “What I think is more interesting, you know, is what the administration is doing and not doing.
“They’re backing away from the no-fly zone, essentially they are playing for the long run,” Haass said. “I think they are going to avoid – correctly, in my view – the not thought-through intervention.”
Host Joe Scarborough asked whether Haass, who served in several presidential administrations on national security issues, agreed that maybe someone else should take the lead in Libya. Haass said he did.
“We don’t have vital national interests, we can’t design a military intervention in Libya that would be decisive,” Haass said. “The focus ought to be on places like Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, which are the real centers of history in the Middle East.
“And what the administration shouldn’t worry about is short-term criticism,” he continued. “They ought to avoid a long-term situation, where once again, we have American troops in the middle of an intervention that is not thought through, where we can’t relate what we are doing militarily, to what we have to think about politically and economically.”
MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan said he agrees with the Obama administration’s hesitancy to get involved, but takes President Barack Obama to task for so quickly calling for Gadhafi to leave.
“Barack Obama should not have gotten up and said: ‘He’s got to go – that’s it,’” Buchanan said. “He put his own credibility on the line: That Gadhafi’s go to go, and if he doesn’t go, I think there’s going to be egg on the face of the president of the United States.”
Haass noted even if Gadhafi prevails in the short run, there are things the United States can do to make sure he doesn’t necessarily prevail in the long run.
“There’s things we can do to weaken him economically,” Haass said. “There’s also time to build up an opposition, that maybe we would know something about.
”Before we start helping people, we’ve got to make sure they have a political agenda that is something we can wrap our arms around.”
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