Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

General denounces president’s Libyan intervention, says White House must be asked to clearly state the political goal

“Colonel Khaddafi is a madman. There is no way of predicting his behavior. What is the political goal …To provoke him into something?… “Now, I’m not saying we should back away from doing something when resolute action is called for. I am saying that, between the generals and the politicians — and the generals need ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

"Colonel Khaddafi is a madman. There is no way of predicting his behavior. What is the political goal ...To provoke him into something?...

"Now, I'm not saying we should back away from doing something when resolute action is called for. I am saying that, between the generals and the politicians -- and the generals need to be the foremost spokesmen for this -- when the president or secdef says, 'Let's send a force to do this, that, and the other thing,' some general needs to ask, 'What is your political goal?' In my opinion, the belligerent posturing of this administration has created turmoil in parts of the world where there need not be turmoil today. Eventually, if they keep it up, it's going to get us in trouble."

--Army Gen. (Ret.) Donn Starry, February 1986, on President Reagan's intervention in Libya. (P. 1097, oral history interview, in Press On! Selected Works of General Donn A. Starry, Vol. 2, Lewis Sorley, ed.)    

“Colonel Khaddafi is a madman. There is no way of predicting his behavior. What is the political goal …To provoke him into something?…

“Now, I’m not saying we should back away from doing something when resolute action is called for. I am saying that, between the generals and the politicians — and the generals need to be the foremost spokesmen for this — when the president or secdef says, ‘Let’s send a force to do this, that, and the other thing,’ some general needs to ask, ‘What is your political goal?’ In my opinion, the belligerent posturing of this administration has created turmoil in parts of the world where there need not be turmoil today. Eventually, if they keep it up, it’s going to get us in trouble.”

–Army Gen. (Ret.) Donn Starry, February 1986, on President Reagan’s intervention in Libya. (P. 1097, oral history interview, in Press On! Selected Works of General Donn A. Starry, Vol. 2, Lewis Sorley, ed.)    

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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