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December 20, 2003

Khaddafi and "Quiet Diplomacy"

Brian Whitaker, writing in the Guardian, acknowledges that the toppling of Saddam Hussein *may* have influenced the months-long efforts to reach the recent agreements with Libya regarding WMDs.

The success of the efforts in Libya is a particular triumph for Tony Blair, but it also raises many questions about the course of action adopted in Iraq, and whether the methods that have worked with Tripoli might not have also succeeded eventually in Baghdad.

It's really hard to let go of a cherished idea, isn't it? Let us leave aside for a moment the fact that the imperatives between Iraq and Libya are different - Libya had already been smacked into a corner, and wasn't engaging in routine, wholesale slaughter of it's citizens, just the occasional retail killing. Libya was in many respects behaving itself already. Mr. Whitaker wants to suggest that the same approach might have worked with Iraq.

It seems obvious to suggest that the military pressures that were applied to Iraq in the run-up to the war may have helped to focus the minds in Colonel Gadafy's tent, but this cannot be the whole explanation.

I can see Mr. Whitaker writing in mid-1944, after the Russians have started to penetrate into Poland and the Allied Expeditionary Force is poised to land in Normandy arguing that we shouldn't continue the attacks into Germany, because after all, weren't the Germans retreating and starting to cooperate?

Leave aside that we still have the Vernichtungslagern, Konzentrationslagern, Aufhaltslagern, Krankenlagern, and Zwangsarbeitslagerrn with names like Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen, Theresienstadt, Dachau, Belzec, and Majdanek to name just a few in operation?

"Well, you see," Mr. Whitaker would patiently explain, "Hitler has already shut down Treblinka, Sobibor, and Chelmno and promises to shut down the others, although he *is* being a bit sticky about letting in those pesky inspectors."

There you have it. Right? Makes sense, right? Riiiiight.

Mr. Whitaker goes on in the rest of the article to explain the incentives offered Libya and Libya's response to those incentives. The key piece (to this writer at least) is Libya's response. Substantive. Allowing inspectors in, with very few restrictions, openness about it's programs.

At the end of the article, Whitaker quotes David Mepham, associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank.

"Tackling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction requires a stronger commitment to multinational arms control in the Middle East and elsewhere."
The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Menzies Campbell, said: "This is a success for diplomacy. It is one gained through multilateral negotiation and doesn't depend on the use of force of arms."

Again, I come back with, "Riiiiggghhhht." Slobodan Milosevic on trial in The Hague, Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar on the run who knows where, and Saddam Hussein in custody, and new governments in place in all three referenced nations had absolutely nothing to do with COL Khaddafi's decisions to change his policies. In a world where the only change in approach has been that someone in the West finally lost patience with the bullshit and backed up the threats with action, the action in fact really had no effect.

Only in the Cloud-Cuckoo-Land of the Guardian.

The whole article is available here.