Tuesday, March 09, 2004


Martin Indyk of Brookings takes issue with the Bush administration's claims that Gaddafi was cowed into compliance by shock and awe in Iraq in this morning's FT.

Did shock and awe lead this dictator to disarm? Emphatically NO, according to Indyk:

In fact, Libyan representatives offered to surrender WMD programmes more than four years ago, in then-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.

Libya was facing a deepening economic crisis amid disastrous economic policies and mismanagement of oil revenues. In this context, United Nations and US sanctions that prevented Libya importing oilfield technology thus prevented Mr Gadaffi from expanding oil production. The only way out was to seek rapprochement with Washington.

Reinforcing this imperative was Mr Gadaffi's quest for respectability. Fed up with pan-Arabism, he turned to Africa, only to find little support from old allies. Removing the sanctions and their stigma became his priority.

From the start of President Bill Clinton's administration, Mr Gadaffi had tried to open back-channels. Disappointed, he turned to Britain, first settling a dispute over the shooting of a policewoman outside the Libyan embassy in London and then offering to send the two Libyans accused in the Lockerbie PanAm 103 bombing for trial in a third country

...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 its facilities to inspection. In October 1999, Libya repeated its offer on chemical weapons and agreed to join the Middle East multilateral arms control talks.

...The fact that Mr Gadaffi was willing to give up his WMD programmes and allow inspections four years ago does not detract from the Bush administration's achievement in securing Libya's nuclear disarmament. But 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.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home