The United States' strategy to deal with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi hasn't worked so far because there isn't an actual plan, former U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Oliver North said at a fundraiser here Thursday.
"The bottom line of it is if the goal is to get rid of [Gadhafi], then they ought to get rid of him; there's ways of doing that. For the life of me, I can't figure out what they seem to want to do," he said Thursday to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "If you're going to do it, for heaven's sake, get it done. Dragging this thing out is just disastrous for the people of Libya."
North, a combat-wounded and decorated former U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, now works as a political commentator, best-selling author and host of Fox News' "War Stories with Oliver North."
He was put in the national spotlight in the 1980s when, as a member of Ronald Reagan's National Security Council, he was involved in selling weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages from Lebanon.
North, 68, also has personal connections to Gadhafi, whose People's Committee for Libyan Students were sent in 1987 to kill North, his wife and his children, he said. The FBI intercepted the would-be assassins, North said, but his family had to leave their home and live under the protection of federal agents for several months.
"The history between Mr. Gadhafi and me is not a good one," he said.
North spoke to a crowd of about 500 Thursday at the Chattanooga Convention Center during an event to raise money for the Bryan College Opportunity fund, a needs-based scholarship for Tennessee students.
Students with at least a 3.0 grade-point average, a score of 21 or higher on the ACT and whose family income is under $35,000 are eligible for the scholarship. The students must apply for all available state and federal grants, and the Opportunity Fund will cover the difference between that amount and Bryan's tuition. This year 56 of Bryan's 850 student body participated in the program.
Tickets to hear North speak were $50, and school leaders hoped to raise an additional $150,000 in donations to meet their $275,000 goal for next year's fund.
Bryan President Stephen Livesay said North is "an American hero in so many ways."
"We need to see men with strong family values, integrity and leadership. ... He fits in well with the mission of the school," Livesay said.
Seth Flores, a senior Bible major from Memphis, has gone to Bryan tuition-free for four years thanks to the Opportunity Fund. He said he appreciated people like North and the scholarship donors giving their time and money.
"The idea that people are willing to invest in Christian young people really means the world to me," Flores said.