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September 9, 2004

Treachery part II - Libya

Part II of Bill Gertz' book "treachery" is excerpted in today's Washington Times.

Today's extracts concern Libya's alleged desire to renounce it's WMD programs in return for a lifting of sanctions. Gertz reveals that even as Libya was engaged in discussions with British and American negotiators over the proposed disarmament, they continued to procure nuclear enrichment technology. The supplier of the material was none other than one of our "allies", Pakistan.

It was not until October 4, 2003, when the US Navy intercepted one of the ships carrying nuclear bomb parts bound for Libya, that the true extent of the treachery became known. As Gertz tells it

Caught in the act, Libya was forced to publicly reveal it had worked secretly to build nuclear as well as chemical weapons.

Gadhafi, concerned about his legacy and an economy hit hard by sanctions, made a startling announcement two months later, in December 2003. The dictator said Libya would abandon its nuclear and chemical arms programs, limit the range of its missiles and comply with numerous international weapons treaties.

Libya ultimately admitted it had spent some $500 million since the late 1990s in developing nuclear weapons.

Gadhafi's announcement was widely hailed as a victory in the effort to stem the flow of nuclear-weapons technology to rogue states.

Feith, the U.S. undersecretary of defense, was more cautious. But he acknowledged that Libya's pledge to disarm could be an important step.

Feith suggested that Gadhafi adopted this approach after the sobering U.S.-led ousters of the Taliban from Afghanistan and Saddam from Iraq.

"At that point, Gadhafi, having tried for years to get off the 'bad list' [of rogue states] by means short of opening up, decided that he had to open up," Feith said. "Now, what does one infer from that? I suppose it seems as if he came to the conclusion that it was too risky being coy, it was too risky trying these lesser means to get off the bad list.

"And it became more urgent for him to get off the bad list when he saw the fate of the Taliban regime and the Saddam Hussein regime."

You'll want to read the whole thing, but I think the point is obvious.

Liberals and Clinton apologists have gone on may talk shows and said that Libya's disarmament had nothing to do with anything the Bush administration may have done, and certainly was not related to our military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. Oh no, they say, it was the result of years of "quiet diplomacy". The Libyans were simply persuaded by the reasoned and logical arguments of patient diplomats.

What baloney.

Gadhafi was playing these diplomats for fools the entire time. And they were sucking it up, falling for his promises and sweet talk. As Gertz makes clear, Gadhafi had no intention of giving up his WMD the entire time. He could see that Saddam was able to thumb his nose at the UN and get away with it. Maybe Iraq did not have the stockpiles of WMD that we thought they did (or maybe they did and it's been hidden or moved to Syria, the jury's still out) but Gadhafi, like the rest of the world, certainly thought that he did. His reasoning was simple; if Saddam can get away with it, and he's under much more scrutiny than I am, so can I. And this is precisely what he tried to do.

Gadhafi's epiphany came when we invaded Iraq; here was a president who meant business. I might lose my country if they turn their attention towards me next.

Libya is much more vulnerable to invasion than was either Afghanistan or Iraq. It has a smaller population, smaller military, the geography is flat desert which is impossible to defend, and it's long coastline means that we can invade directly from the sea without anyone's permission. You can be sure that Gadhafi was acutely aware of these military realities. He was counting on getting himself an ace-in-the-hole; WMD. When he was discovered, the game was up.

The unfortunate effect of the insurgency in Iraq is that it has prevented us from turning our attention to other state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and Syria. If the Bush administration is to be criticized for anything, it is for not recognizing the possibility of an insurgency and countering it sooner. It is all very easy to say this now, for even war critics largely missed this too. It is a missed opportunity that we have not been aggressive enough in turning our military attention towards these other threats. Let's hope and work to see that Bush is elected again so that we might be able to do so. It's clear that John Kerry has no stomach for the confrontations that are needed to resolve these problem countries. Had he been in office these past four years, Libya would be much farther along in it's WMD programs.

Posted by Tom at September 9, 2004 9:30 AM

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