Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Libya vs Iraq

Dick has a long post on Libya's WMD programs and compares US actions with regards to Libya and Iraq.

He states that:
in the absence of a threatening WMD programme, the justification is now that Saddam was an evil man who tortured and killed his own people. But Gaddafi has tortured and killed his own people? You'd be forgiven for being confused.
However, that's not quite right. As stated in the State of the Union speech, the justification for the war before the war was Saddam's (not in any particular order)
  • failure to comply with UN resolutions
  • links to terrorist organizations
  • abuse of the Iraqi people
  • threat to his neighbors
On Friday, when commenting on the Libya's announcement, President Bush said:
We obtained an additional United Nations Security Council Resolution requiring Saddam Hussein to prove that he had disarmed, and when that resolution was defied, we led a coalition to enforce it. All of these actions by the United States and our allies have sent an unmistakable message to regimes that seek or possess weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons do not bring influence or prestige. They bring isolation and otherwise unwelcome consequences.
There is no indication that the President has changed the terms of the justification at all.

Dick also says, "You'd be forgiven for being confused" and asks if "it's okay to be a dictator who tortures and kills as long as you make nice to the West"? I think the answer is that you can be forgiven if you take steps to change your ways. Saddam was given that opportunity. He could have done what Gaddaffi has done. He was given many chances to do just that, but he chose (stupidly, if he in fact had no WMD) to toy with the inspectors. Just because there's the beginning of a thaw does not mean that the US approves of every action the Libyan government takes.

After reading Dick's comments, I couldn't help wonder what he wanted the US to do? Ignore the offer and declare that Gaddaffi will be toppled by US forces in 2004?

Gaddaffi's clearly had links to terrorists in the past and he had a WMD program (maybe not complete, but he did use those chemical weapons in the war with Chad in 1987). Those days are (apparently) now behind him and the US is responding. There will be more pressure to reform internally, but the threat of military action against Libya is certainly gone.

The Bush Doctrine still calls for democratization, and I've seen nothing to convince me that this has been abandoned. We'll have to see. Along with Amir Taheri, I am skeptical that Gaddaffi has really changed, but I can see the reasoning for giving him the benefit of the doubt. That picture of Saddam's rat hole may have been a "there, but for the grace of God" moment for Gaddaffi.