Skip to comments.Indyk: The Iraq War did not Force Gadaffi's Hand
Posted on 08/07/2004 9:24:43 PM PDT by ncdave4life
The Iraq War did not Force Gadaffi's Hand
The Financial Times, March 9, 2004
Martin S. Indyk, Director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy
Martin S. Indyk
Embarrassed by the failure to find Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, President George W. Bush is trying to find another WMD-related justification for his pre-emptive war on Iraq. Bush administration spokesmen have been quick to portray Libya's December decision to abandon WMD programmes as the direct result of the US invasion of Iraq or, as Mr. Bush himself put it in his State of the Union address: "Nine months of intense negotiations succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not." In diplomacy, noted the president, "words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America" (applause).
The implication is clear. Get rid of one dictator because of his supposed WMD programmes and others will be so afraid that they will voluntarily abandon their weapons programmes. Therefore, even if no WMDs were found in Iraq, we still made the world a safer place. The perfect comeback.
In Muammer Gadaffi's case, this proposition is questionable. In fact, Libyan representatives offered to surrender WMD programmes more than four years ago, at the outset of secret negotiations with US officials. In May 1999, their offer was officially conveyed to the US government at the peak of the "12 years of diplomacy with Iraq" that Mr. Bush now disparages. Back then, Libya was facing a deepening economic crisis produced by disastrous economic policies and mismanagement of its oil revenues. United Nations and US sanctions that prevented Libya importing oilfield technology made it impossible for Mr. Gadaffi to expand oil production. The only way out was to seek rapprochement with Washington.
Reinforcing this economic imperative was Mr. Gadaffi's own quest for respectability. Fed up with pan-Arabism, he turned to Africa, only to find little support from old allies there. Removing the sanctions and their accompanying stigma became his priority.
From the start of President Bill Clinton's administration, Mr. Gadaffi had tried to open back-channels, using various Arab interlocutors with little success. Disappointed, he turned to Britain, first settling a dispute over the shooting of a British policewoman in London and then offering to send the two Libyans accused in the Lockerbie PanAm 103 bombing for trial in a third country. For the US, accepting this offer had the advantage of bringing Libyan terrorists to justice. But it also generated pressure in the UN Security Council to lift sanctions. The task of US diplomacy then was to maintain the sanctions until Mr. Gadaffi had fulfilled all other obligations under the UN resolutions: ending support for terrorism, admitting culpability and compensating victims' families.
That was why the Clinton administration opened the secret talks on one conditionthat Libya cease lobbying in the UN to lift the sanctions. It did. At the first meeting, in Geneva in May 1999, we used the promise of official dialogue to persuade Libya to co-operate in the campaign against Osama bin Laden and provide compensation for the Lockerbie families.
Libya's representatives were ready to put everything on the table, saying that Mr. Gadaffi had realised that was not the path to pursue and that Libya and the US faced a common threat from Islamic fundamentalism. In that context, they said, Libya would actively co-operate in the campaign against al-Qaeda and would end all support for Palestinian "rejectionist" groups, endorse US peace efforts in the Middle East and help in conflict resolution in Africa.
On the issue of WMD, the US at the time was concerned about Libya's clandestine production of chemical weapons. Expressing a preference for a multilateral forum, Libyan representatives offered to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and open their facilities to inspection. In a subsequent meeting in October 1999, Libya repeated its offer on chemical weapons and agreed to join the Middle East multilateral arms control talks taking place at the time. Why did we not pursue the Libyan WMD offer then? Because resolving the PanAm 103 issues was our condition for any further engagement. Moreover, as Libya's chemical weapons programme was not considered an imminent threat and its nuclear programme barely existed, getting Libya out of terrorism and securing compensation had to be top priorities. We told the Libyans that once these were achieved, UN sanctions could be lifted but US sanctions would remain until the WMD issues were resolved.
The fact that Mr. Gadaffi was willing to give up his WMD programmes and open facilities to inspection four years ago does not detract from the Bush administration's achievement in securing Libya's nuclear disarmament. However, in doing so, Mr. Bush completed a diplomatic game plan initiated by Mr. Clinton. The issue here, however, is not credit. Rather, it is whether Mr. Gadaffi gave up his WMD programmes because Mr. Hussein was toppled, as Mr. Bush now claims. As the record shows, Libyan disarmament did not require a war in Iraq.
© Copyright 2004 The Financial Times Ltd
Note: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and should not be attributed to the staff, officers or trustees of The Brookings Institution
Indyk...professor of history revision, University of Sinkspillage..
Brookings is a liberal think tank.
That's all I have to say.
I expect this will be front page news in the media on Monday.
Discrediting Bush has become a sport.
It needs to be in the Olympics. The gold medal of trash journalism.
This is pure spin.
Yeah right. Now you Clinton lovers decide to say this...the fact of the matter is this, Martin--Qadaffi surrendered to Bush and Blair after he saw what happened to Saddam Hussein. You appeasement pantywaists in the Democrat party (my former party, by the way) had no effect in persuading him whatsoever. Your approach, however well-intended (and I question that sometimes) is worthless and weak.
I might add, your pathetic attempts to "negotiate" with North Korea also added to the danger in the world today. You aided and abetted a terrorist regime by not verifying their compliance. Oh yes, you trusted Jimmy "Massive Failure of a Presidency" Carter and Madeleine "Cleaning Woman" Albright to negotiate with these guys who starve their own people. Real smooth move, ExLax.
Tell you what, Martin: why don't you quit pretending to be someone who gives a damn about keeping America safe, and just move your residency to France and stay there. We'll all be happier.
Pathetic, desperate spin.
I didn't find this article very persuasive. There are some fairly obvious problems with Mr. Indyk's argument.
For instance, Indyk says that Libya's "nuclear programme barely existed" in 1999 when Libya supposedly offered to the Clinton Administration to shut down its WMD programs. But that statement does not accurately describe the three most striking and important aspects of this breakthrough: 1) that we had no idea that Libya had any nuclear weapons program at all when Gaddafi revealed it last December; and 2) that Libya's nuclear program was, in fact, very advanced; and 3) that Gaddafi revealed and offered to give up that secret and very advanced nuclear program only after our GIs killed Saddam's sons and dragged him from his hole.
Mr. Indyk was a Clinton Administration official. I don't think any unbiased observer believes that Gaddafi would have given up his nuclear weapons program if we had not gone to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Col. Gaddafi is a cold-blooded killer, and a certifiable nutcase. He is the guy who, when asked about the reports of cannibalism by his fellow Moslem, the late Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada, replied with unintended irony that he (Gaddafi) was not concerned with Amin's "internal affairs." The thought that Gaddafi could have soon been able to ship a nuclear device into New York or San Diego or Houston harbor in a cargo container should scare you to death.
Note, too, that along with his own nuclear program, Gaddafi gave up the whole Khan/Farooq nuclear smuggling network. That was a huge breakthrough, which certainly helped to make us (and the rest of the world) a lot safer.
During the Clinton Administration, Gaddafi was working hard to become a nuclear power, and was successfully keeping that effort a secret from the West. We know, for instance, that Libya's contacts with rogue Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan go back at least to 1997.
But after what we did to Saddam, Gaddafi apparently (and correctly) calculated that as soon as his nuclear program became known, he would become target #1 for the U.S. military, and realized that would be a disaster. During the Clinton years, all the world knew that Saddam kept firing missiles at U.S. planes (among many other provocations) with very few repercussions. No wonder Gaddafi didn't fear us then. But when we took out Saddam all that changed.
There is a tendency, lately, to lump all WMDs together, as if they were all equivalent. But they are not. Chemical weapons are much less dangerous than biologicals, which, in turn, are much less dangerous than nuclear weapons.
In Iraq, chemical weapons were a significant concern because of Saddam's history of using them for genocide, and Iraq's geographic location, and the danger that Saddam would use them against his neighbors (again), or against us when we finally decided to cease putting up with his constant provocations. But chemical weapons in Libya are not nearly such a big deal, because those concerns do not apply. Consequently, Libya's offer to join the Chemical Weapons Convention was also not such a big deal.
Nukes are a much, much bigger deal, but Indyk treats them as if they were no different from chemical weapons. He says, "Libyan representatives offered to surrender WMD programmes more than four years ago," but when you read the rest of the article you find that the only WMD programs Gaddafi actually offered to give up back in 1999 were chemical weapons programs.
The Bush breakthrough wasn't that Gaddafi gave up nerve gas, it was that he gave up nukes. For Indyk to blur that distinction seems disingenuous.
Clintonites are pathetic.
He must get his news/info from the mass media.
Freepers such as quidnunc keep me better informed. Though I can't find the FR URL for this article again, it was an eye opener for me.
Isn't that an oxymoron?
Here's another odd thing in Indyk's article. He wrote that "in Geneva in May 1999, we used the promise of official dialogue to persuade Libya to co-operate in the campaign against Osama bin Laden..." Yet we now know that the Clinton administration did not have a campaign against bin Laden, at least not much of one. In fact, they repeatedly refused to take action against him, when they had the chance; see, for example: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=9721
I think this falls under the category "so dumb only an intellectual could believe it."
> Though I can't find the FR URL for this article again,
> it was an eye opener for me.
Great article, GoLightly! Here's the FR thread:
Bush invades Iraq, Libya immediately caves - coincidence.
Reagan changes America from a policy of appeasement to one of confrontation in the Cold War, Soviet Union falls a few years later - coincidence
Clinton recession started in late 2000 while Bush is still governor of Texas. Shortly after coming into office 9/11 occurs - any economic problems obviously Bush's fault.
Have I got this one about covered here?
President Bush had accomplished more in 1-1/2 years in office than clinton did in his 8 years.
President Bush has performed in office as a President promises - to protect this country.
clinton has commented 'he had fun' and he let the country burn!
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