Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Libya Wants off Terror Sponsor List

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader, indicated his country would be removed from the list of states that sponsor terrorism. According to Gaddafi, an agreement was reached with the US after a series of concessions by Libya. The US State Department has declined comment, however there is no reason to believe the statement is inaccurate. (Union-Tribune: Libya says to be taken off U.S. terrorism list ).

Libya is one of the great success stories of US foreign policy in the Middle East. The decision to abandon a nuclear weapons program, improve human rights policies, and cut-off support for terrorist groups in the country is a direct result of US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The raid on Libya during the Reagan Administration taught Gaddafi two valuable lessons. First, he learned that the US could strike Libya at will from bases either in Europe or in the US. Second, he learned that his allies in the Soviet Union (which still existed at the time) would do nothing to prevent such attacks. These lessons were the perfect setup for the display of military might in Gulf War I and in subsequent attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Watching the US systematically dismantle two governments with minimal effort was enough to convince Gaddafi that cooperation with the West was in his best interests. (Before anyone raises it, let me point out that the current difficulties in Iraq are small consolation to Hussein who is only a few months away from a date with the hangman.)

As Gaddafi has shown, the rogue nations in that region do respond to a show of strength. Negotiations are useless if not backed by the threat of military might. One of the major benefits of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan is the elimination of Libya as a threat. Now if only Iran and Syria could learn the same lesson before they need a refresher course.


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