December 23, 2003

Meaning of the Libyan Turnaround

Much of the anti-war movement seems to want to paint the Bush administration as out-of-control in its willingness to use military force overseas, and some of the wackier members even characterize the overthrow of the Hussein regime in Iraq as some sort of personal vendetta ("He tried to kill my daddy!"), unrelated to the war on terrorism. But in the days after September 11, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz enunciated a clear strategy that he thought would be required to prevent a 9-11 from happening again. A strategy that extended beyond merely capturing the responsible parties and "bringing them to justice:"

"I think one has to say it's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism."

From the perspective of previous world wars, we are only a short way into this global war on terrorism (or, in my un-PC opinion, Islamic extremism), so it is probably a little early to gauge the overall success of this strategy.

But Libya's recent turnaround provides some preliminary support for the success of the strategy. Today's Dallas Morning News has a very forceful editorial connecting the dots between the takedown of Hussein and Libya's voluntary capitulation.

"Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi may be a madman, but he's no fool.

"He saw what happened to Saddam Hussein, and doesn't want to end up being dragged out of a spider hole by American soldiers. . . .

"European Commission chief Romano Prodi is hailing this a victory for
'discrete diplomacy and engagement.' Don't you believe it.

"Libya first reached out to the West in March, as American soldiers prepared to
shock and awe Saddam Hussein into collapse. Col. Gadhafi saw that when President George W. Bush said that nations were either for us or against us in the war on terror, and would be held accountable for their actions, he meant it.

"And note well that the Libyans did not approach France or Germany for help with the Americans, but Britain, the United States' staunchest ally. Col. Gadhafi knows which nations matter in the post-9-11 world.

"This development is first and foremost a ringing vindication of the Bush terror-fighting strategy, which depends on the use of force to back up diplomatic initiatives. When dealing with thugs like Col. Gadhafi, an able military and the
political will to employ it are the most useful tools of international relations. It's amazing how clarifying a few well-placed daisy cutters can be for Middle Eastern despots, and how persuasive the tender ministrations of the U.S. armed forces are to even the most obstinate potentate.

"Libya's stunning decision could prove a real intelligence coup for the United States, given that nation's role in funding international cutthroats and radical movements for decades. Additionally, the Libyan foreign minister is now saying that trade between his nation and the U.S. and Britain will improve.

"Washington and London now have a tremendous opportunity to show how no nation, no matter how outcast, is beyond rehabilitation if it will only turn from
its rogue ways. As we reward Libya for playing nice - and we should - let's not forget that what brought Col. Gadhafi around was not endless carrots offered by the European Commission, but a large stick swung hard by Mr. Bush."
(emphasis added).

I think Libya remains on probation, but I am heartened by this development.

Posted by JohnL at December 23, 2003 12:21 PM

I wish you great success, good luck and a lot of fun for the future. Maybe one day you will really be the best of all.

Posted by: Gina Mareike at December 2, 2004 03:09 AM
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