Giuliani: ‘We Cannot Create Another Iraq’

by Robert Costa

Washington — As he mulls a 2012 presidential run, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani is closely eyeing President Obama’s handling of the Libyan crisis. The president’s management of the situation, he says in an interview with National Review Online, has been alarmingly indecisive. But what most troubles Giuliani is Obama’s reluctance to make ousting Moammar Qaddafi a key part of the mission while committing U.S. forces to intervene in a civil war.

“[Obama] has put us in a position where we have to get Qaddafi out at this time,” Giuliani argues. “We cannot accept a solution in which Qaddafi is in charge of Libya for the next eight or ten years. We cannot create another Iraq, like we did in the early 1990s, which led to eleven years of on-and-off military actions. Maybe that did or didn’t work then, but things are too volatile now.”

“The president’s decision-making has been startling,” Giuliani says. “I have never seen a president who makes decisions like this, who does not seem to think out the consequences of his decisions. Before he announced that Qaddafi must go, he should have known a month ahead, or better a year ahead, that by saying that, he will be asked to follow through and remove Qaddafi.”

Giuliani is perplexed by how Obama has fumbled in explaining the cause. Many Americans, he posits, are probably confused about the president’s exact position. He calls Obama’s policy a “half-decision with a time limit.”

“At the outset, if he did not want to support Qaddafi’s removal, if he said, ‘I agree with [Robert] Gates that this is a mistake,’ then he should have kept his mouth shut,” Giuliani says. “On the other hand, if he thought that it would be in America’s national interest to remove Qaddafi, he should have already outlined steps two, three, and four. It does not seem like he has done that.”

Instead, Obama “announces that we are going to do a no-fly zone, but that we are not going to use troops,” he continues. “I don’t know why he has to decide that right now except for political reasons. Strategically, you want Qaddafi thinking that we might use troops.”

Obama’s tactics, Giuliani says, are hamstringing the U.S. military. “You can’t fight a military action with massive limitations placed on it at the very beginning,” he says. “It is irresponsible and you make the troops more vulnerable.” If Qaddafi begins to inflict massive casualties upon his citizens, Obama, he predicts, will be forced to consider ground troops and “back up what he started.”

“He is not by experience, or by instinct, a leader,” Giuliani concludes. Obama, he says, is taking a backseat to France, the Arab League, and the United Nations. “We are going to have to defeat him in 2012. America cannot stand another four years like this.”

“We need a Republican president,” he says. “My sole goal is going to be to try to figure out how we can best achieve that. I am not going to take myself out of it, but [Obama’s handling of Libya] convinces me that [electing] one is a lot more important than maybe we thought four years ago.”

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