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March 25, 2004
Now the Carrot

Tony Blair has taken the lead in working the diplomacy front of the war on terror by taking a politically risky trip to Libya and welcoming Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi back into the international fold:

Tony Blair has shaken hands and is the middle of his controversial meeting with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Thursday's Tripoli talks follows Libya's decision last December to renounce weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Blair's visit has been criticised by some politicians and received a mixed response from relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing.

No doubt, many issues separate Libya from the West, both specific (the Fletcher murder case) and general (Libya's human-rights record). However, if we are to convince rogue states like Libya to cough up their WMDs and to fight terrorism, the West has to provide some positive incentives for that transition. Libya also demonstrates that the West doesn't have imperial ambitions in North Africa and Asia Minor, and that we will be happy to work with those governments that don't support and shelter terrorists and don't stockpile the kinds of weapons that could fall into their hands, with disastrous results.

Blair faces some resistance at home on this, mostly because of the mixed messages Libya sent out a few weeks back on the Lockerbie bombing and the Fletcher murder case, where a young policewoman was shot to death in 1984 by a gunman inside the Libyan embassy compound. The gunman has never been identified, nor have the Libyans been terribly cooperative in the investigation. Obviously, these issues will have to be addressed by Blair and Gaddafi, or at least by their representatives, but in the face of Gaddafi's extraordinary cooperation in the past year, refusing to engage with him now would send a terrible message to other nations that may be considering choosing our side in the war on terror.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 25, 2004 6:20 AM

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