Haass: Gadhafi Could Remain, Unless US Acts

Tuesday, 01 Mar 2011 07:58 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass says Libyan despot Moammar Gadhafi could stay in power unless the United States intervenes “with both feet in what’s become a civil war – and I believe that’s a bridge way too far.”

On “Morning Joe” Tuesday, host Joe Scarborough asked Haass whether the Libyan crisis will end only if Gadhafi is killed.

Richard Haass, Gadhafi, Libya
Richard Haass
“Most likely — or he ends up going into exile, he ends up in Zimbabwe or something like that — or this continues for a while,” Haass said. “History suggests that tyrants can remain in power, so long as their army, and their police forces, are essentially willing to slug it out. And if they are willing to kill their own people, and they don’t defect, then this can go on for a while.”

Scarborough asked Haass what the impact of Gadhafi's remaining in power will have on the rest of the world and specifically on the region.

“You’ve got to worry about refugee flows into Egypt, Algeria — into Europe. The oil issue has already been largely discounted by the oil market, it’s out there,” he said. “But at the moment, what’s happening in Libya is not going to infect Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, or Iran, or anywhere else. It’s largely localized because of the crazy dynamic — whatever you want to call it — of what’s going on there.”

Scarborough then asked what the U.S. options are.

“We’ve done most of the symbolic things already,” Haass said. “And it’s not going to affect the guy. He is sort of delusional – he is denying what is going on with reality. You could prepare for the negatives, in the sense of refugee flows, humanitarian crisis.

“The big question is whether we intervene in the situation,” he continued. “For example, do you ground Libyan planes? Do you create a no fly zone? You could do that; it would take a lot to do it. The real question is how much would that buy you.

“They really are not killing most of their people with their airplanes. They
are killing most of their people with mercenaries and those troops that have remained loyal,” Haass said. “So I actually think there are limits to what we can do.

“Unless – and trust me, I am not advocating this — unless you intervene with both feet in what’s become a civil war — and I believe that’s a bridge way too far.”

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