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Time to lead or get out of the way -- Mike Reagan
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Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is getting away with murder because the president of the United States refuses to take action when that’s exactly what is called for.
Gadhafi is thumbing his nose at the alleged leader of the Free World, leaving the crazed dictator free to slaughter his own people in a frantic effort to save his dictatorship.
It is hard for me to examine President Obama’s current behavior without comparing it to a similar crisis during my father, President Reagan’s, administration, and the way my Dad handled it.
In August 1981, two Libyan aircraft were spotted by U.S aircraft carrier Nimitz cruising near the Libyan coast. As Time magazine reported at the time, two Hawkeye fighters on surveillance missions detected the Libyan planes and reported them to the Nimitz which sent two F-14s aloft.
They “spotted the Libyans on their radar, and moved in to identify them. As the two flights approached almost head on, one of the Soviet-built Su-22 planes fired an air-to-air Atoll missile at the F-14s. U.S. Forces heard the pilot say in Arabic, ‘I have fired.’
“He missed. The F-14s had seen the Atoll’s smoke immediately and had violently broken away, evading the missile and wheeling sharply around to come in behind the Libyans. U.S. Rules of engagement permit pilots to shoot back if fired upon, and each of the F-14s triggered a single heat-seeking Sidewinder missile, each scoring a hit on a Libyan plane…. The engagement, 60 miles off the coast, lasted no more than one minute. It was the first U.S. Military action since the ill-fated attempt of April 1980 to rescue the hostages in Iran.”
Within six minutes Washington was told of the incident, and National Security Adviser Richard Allen and White House Counselor Edwin Meese, who were in Los Angeles with President Reagan, received the news at 11 p.m. local time. They decided that there was no need at the moment to waken the president. Instead, according to Time, “they monitored the news for the next 5½ hours before calling Reagan, who was sleeping in his suite at the Century Plaza hotel.”
Meese told Time that “The President was in charge, and if there had been any action he needed to take, he would have been awakened.” Reagan saw nothing wrong with the delay. Said he: “If our planes were shot down, yes, they’d wake me up right away. If the other fellows were shot down, why wake me up?”
Time noted that there was no doubt that the site of the U.S. action was a challenge to Gadhafi’s assertion that he controlled the Gulf of Sidra, and that staging the U.S. fleet exercise there had been intentional. When asked whether the naval exercise was meant as a lesson to Libya, one State Department official replied: “Look at a map.”
Libya’s reaction to my Dad’s determination to show them he meant business when he authorized the fleet’s maneuvers off Libya’s coast, and happily approved of the response by the fleet, was all bluster but no action.
Tragically, Barack Obama’s reaction to Libya’s provocations thus far lacks both bluster and action.
Obama is frozen and is trying to be a community organizer when the world needs a POTUS [President of the United States].
Lead or get out of the way.
The world is waiting.
(Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his website at, or e-mail comments to