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December 21, 2003
Washington Post Gets It

It took a couple of days for the Washington Post to write an editorial about Libya's renunciation of WMDs, but it got the final product right. As opposed to the meme sneaking around our liberal colleagues' blogs, the Washington Post makes it clear that the timing and the direction of Libya's offer was no accident:

LIBYAN LEADER Moammar Gaddafi, a model rogue dictator and sponsor of international terrorism in the 1980s, has been trying to rehabilitate himself for the better part of a decade. He dispatched two of his henchmen to be tried at The Hague for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner, agreed to pay reparations to families and renounced terrorism. Yet it was only last March that Mr. Gaddafi chose to approach Britain and the United States to discuss giving up his weapons of mass destruction. That he did so, and that nine months of secret negotiations with him yielded an agreement, marks a major success in the effort by the United States and its allies to prevent the spread of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and to make such containment a focus of international affairs. Mr. Gaddafi's timing, just as the invasion of Iraq was beginning, speaks for itself: The Libyan dictator chose to comply as it became clear that Saddam Hussein's pursuit of illegal weapons would no longer be tolerated.

News that Gaddafi's WMD progress was farther advanced than anyone in the international community thought gives the WaPo editorial board second thoughts about international weapons-control "regimes" as well:

But, as in Iraq after the Persian Gulf War and more recently in Iran, inspectors found a more advanced nuclear program than expected. These included facilities to enrich uranium into bomb-grade material. ... The discoveries nevertheless underline the inadequacy of the international regime for controlling nuclear materials, which has failed to stop a series of unstable or aggressive countries from obtaining nuclear weapons or the means to produce them.

The Post does not attempt to analyze why the UN has failed in weapons control, perhaps saving that discussion for a later date. However, the reason is simply that the UN has failed to enforce its own resolutions regarding security for the past twelve years. President Bush's challenge to the UN in January, after it became clear that Saddam Hussein was using the weapons inspectors sent in to verify compliance under Resolution 1441 as part of his cheat and retreat strategy, specifically warned the UN of this very consequence. Bush warned the UN that failure to provide severe consequences for defiance encouraged other rogue states towards defiance, not towards compliance.

In the end, the UN chose the path of the League of Nations and has put an emphatic seal on its own irrelevance. Gaddafi chose Bush and Blair not because he has some love for the Anglo-American alliance, but because he understood that defying them put him in mortal danger. And while it is true that Gaddafi has been trying to rehabilitate his image since Lockerbie, the development of his WMD program -- in conjunction with Iran and North Korea -- demonstrates his intentions of wielding doomsday power over North Africa and the Middle East. Iraq and Saddam Hussein's downfall changed all the equations, and while Gaddafi may be the first to understand it, he will not be the last.

As a side note, Power Line noticed that the WaPo's Dana Milbank, a frequent critic of the Bush administration, managed to goive credit to the Bush Doctrine for the Libya reversal, even painting John Kerry as floundering in his response to the announcement:

Bush's domestic adversaries have had some trouble responding to the administration's diplomatic successes. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), a presidential aspirant, portrayed the success with Libya as an exception to the Bush Doctrine. "Ironically, this significant advance represents a complete U-turn in the Bush administration's overall foreign policy," he said in a statement Saturday. "An administration that scorns multilateralism and boasts about a rigid doctrine of military preemption has almost in spite of itself demonstrated the enormous potential for improving our national security through diplomacy."

But Bush's supporters say it is precisely his willingness to go it alone and take preemptive action that has encouraged other countries to seek diplomatic solutions before the United States launches a military attack. The Libya and Iran concessions "show the peripheral benefit of preemption," said Kenneth Adelman, a Reagan administration arms control official who now serves on a Pentagon advisory panel. "Most of all it scares the bejesus out of rogue dictators." As for stubborn allies such as Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, "they pay more attention when there's a forceful U.S. policy," Adelman said.

It is unlikely, of course, that France or Germany would acknowledge that they are reacting to U.S. strength. Yet it is noteworthy that they were conciliatory on the issue of Iraqi debt forgiveness after Hussein was captured -- even though they were complaining bitterly just a week before about a Bush plan to exclude them from U.S.-funded Iraq reconstruction projects.

This break from reality will doom the Democratic presidential aspirants, who keep claiming that Bush has been an abject failure at diplomacy because he refused to follow the UN and specifically France, Germany, and Russia in appeasing Saddam. Reality shows that Bush and Blair took the right action in demonstrating that the West will use force to protect its interests and will eventually depose brutal tyrants who continue to flout their international agreements. And again, if you don't believe that the Bush Doctrine had anything to do with Libya, you'll need to explain why Gaddafi chose to deal directly with Bush and Blair rather than the UNSC.

UPDATE: Dean Esmay addresses the inconsistency of the left on the Libya announcement. It seems as though they wanted the US to invade Libya instead of accepting a surrender. Odd.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 21, 2003 8:40 AM

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