TCS Daily

Getting Results

By Pejman Yousefzadeh - December 23, 2003 12:00 AM

This past Friday, President Bush came out with a blockbuster announcement: As a direct result of secret negotiations between Libya on one side, and the United States and Britain on the other, Libya has agreed to give up its longstanding desire to attain nuclear and chemical weapons, as well as the long-range missiles needed to deliver them. Libya has admitted to seeking enriched uranium with which to make nuclear weapons, and its nuclear program was further advanced than many international observers previously believed. In addition to giving up its nuclear and chemical weapons program, Libya has agreed to open itself up to international weapons inspectors, thus raising the possibility that the successful elimination of weapons of mass destruction that occurred in South Africa and the Ukraine could be repeated in Libya as well. While the announcement does not guarantee the end of headaches with Libya, it is a substantial step forward in the effort to prevent rogue states from acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction.

This success comes, of course, after American and coalition forces ousted the Ba'athist dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, and after American forces were recently successful in capturing Saddam himself. While correlation does not necessarily constitute causation, it would appear that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has keenly observed Saddam's fate, and wishes to avoid suffering that same fate himself.


Why Now?


Consider, for starters, this analysis of the news out of Libya. While it attributes the success with Libya to "sanctions and isolation," the fact is that Libya has been sanctioned and isolated since the Reagan Administration. So naturally, the question is raised: Why did "sanctions and isolation" bring about results now, while failing to bring about results earlier?


Well, the article answers that very question by noting the following:


Whether by coincidence or fear that Libya might be targeted, Gaddafi's envoys approached Britain on the eve of the Iraq war to discuss a deal, U.S. officials said.


"The invasion of Iraq sent a strong message to governments around the world that if the United States feels threatened by weapons of mass destruction, we are prepared to act against regimes not prepared to change their behavior," said a senior State Department official who requested anonymity.


Now, this is not to say that the invasion of Iraq and the message that it sent were the only factors at play here. As the article points out, there were other factors at work as well. But it shouldn't surprise us if Qaddafi finally felt coerced into cooperating with the international community by being made to fear the consequences of non-compliance, and by being provided with a vivid example of the consequences of non-compliance in the downfall and eventual capture of Saddam Hussein.


Indeed, if this story -- discussing the foreign policy beliefs of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi -- is to be believed, the fear of suffering Saddam's fate was very much on Qaddafi's mind. Consider the following passage:


A spokesman for Mr. Berlusconi said the prime minister had been telephoned recently by Col Gaddafi of Libya, who said: "I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid."


Again, it should surprise no one that Qaddafi's compliance was brought about -- at least in large part -- due to his fear that non-compliance will bring about the end of his regime. In The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote, "because it is difficult to combine them, it is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both." Muammar Qaddafi just performed the pedagogical service of proving Machiavelli right yet again.


Are We Safer?


It may seem to some that this article is merely stating the obvious. However, it is worth pointing out the fact that American and coalition success in Iraq is leading to success elsewhere in the effort to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of rogue states and terrorist organizations, because many in high places continue to deny that fact. In making what was billed as a major foreign policy address this past week Democratic presidential candidate and frontrunner Howard Dean made the astonishing claim that the capture of Saddam Hussein -- and by implication, the other attendant successes in Iraq -- "has not made America safer." This statement could be fairly disputed even before the recent success with Libyan disarmament. It looks all the more absurd in light of Qaddafi's acquiescence to international pressure.


Even standing alone, the removal of the Ba'athist dictatorship in Iraq and the capture of Saddam Hussein augment the safety and security of the Persian Gulf region, the United States and the international community at large. But it may be that even more security benefits will be derived via the example illustrated by America's ability to capture Saddam and remove his regime from power. What has happened in Iraq appears to have resulted in at least a preliminary accord between Libya and the international community to rid Muammar Qaddafi's regime of weapons of mass destruction. Should that accord be fully realized, and should other rogue states (read Iran and North Korea) become convinced that from a pure standpoint of regime survival, they will be better off complying with the norms of the international community instead of engaging in acts of defiance, the American and coalition military endeavor in Iraq will continue to pay enormous benefits for the security of the United States, its allies, and the world at large.

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