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March 8, 2011 / Political Fluency

One Thing the Libyan People Don’t Have to Worry About

We are now seeing the tide turning back in Muammar Gaddafi’s favor as he unleashes what seems to be the full power of his army on his rebellious citizens.

But the horror in the streets of Libya may be worse if it weren’t for the biggest mistake of George W. Bush’s presidency.

When Iraq was invaded in 2003 one of the indirect consequences was Gaddafi abandoned his Weapons of Mass Destruction program upon seeing the US preemptively strike a nation ruled by a military dictator like himself. The Libyan WMD initiative also included the early stages of a primitive nuclear weapons program.

Gaddafi was right to be worried. His state has sponsored terrorism – most notably the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people (190 of them American).* In addition, Libya was already attacked by the US in 1986. President Ronald Reagan ordered a retaliatory strike after a Berlin nightclub bombing targeting American military servicemen was found out to be the responsibility of Libya.

If Gaddafi is sending his most vicious fighting force utilizing tanks and fighter jets to war with the rebels within his country, then it is not a stretch to think that he may be desperate enough to order an attack with a WMD. Destruction that is fortunately no longer at his disposal.

Alternative viewpoint: The author here – a negotiator of the Camp David Accords – contends that Libya offered to end its WMD program four years earlier in 1999 as part of a negotiation with the Clinton Administration during Gaddafi’s outreach to the West over the past 15 years. The only rebuttal would be, absent a war in Iraq that showed a new American President disinterested in negotiation with terrorist dictators, how can we know if Gaddafi’s WMD program would not have advanced for many more years and potentially never have been abandoned by the time this civil war in Libya began? It’s classic counterfactual thinking.

*That Lockerbie link is infuriating!


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