December 24, 2003
LIBYA WMD PLEDGE: RESULT OF IRAQ WAR OR
** The "Colonel's
U-turn" is seen as a "victory for the international community"
although some question whether Qadhafi can "be trusted."
** Conservative dailies
claim "Saddam's downfall" prompted Libya to raise a "white
flag" while others attribute "persistent diplomacy" to Qadhafi's
"conversion to law and order."
** Drawing comparisons with
Iraq, European editorials tout the use of "carrots" as an effective
alternative to war.
Libya's 'diplomatic turnabout' is a 'positive step'-- Global outlets hailed Qadhafi's
"surprising" WMD pledge, the culmination of nine months of secret
negotiations between Washington, London and Tripoli, as an "indisputable
victory" for the U.S. in the war on terrorism and a "major step
forward" for global non-proliferation.
Libya's reversal "crowned one of the most successful weeks" of
Bush's term, one that started with Saddam's capture. Many writers called for Israel to
"match" Libya's decision.
Jamaica's business-oriented Jamaica Observer said any such move
would improve prospects for "genuine peace in the Middle East" and
negate complaints about Washington's alleged "hypocritical policy in the
'A strong dose of skepticism is in order' to evaluate Qadhafi's
decision-- Suspicious of Qadhafi's
"brilliant ploy" to remove Libya from the list of "pariah"
nations, centrist and conservative dailies such as Britain's Times
cautioned that "no Qadhafi pledge is to be taken on trust." Canada's conservative National Post
warned that "anyone with the slightest knowledge of Qadhafi's career would
be familiar with his capricious and sudden policy changes." Some disapproved of Bush's alacrity to
"open his arms" for a country that "has consistently supported
terror," including Lebanon's moderate English-language Daily Star
which charged that "Libya remains a political backwater" and that
Qadhafi must go "far beyond this basic act of self-preservation" if
he "truly desires membership in the civilized world."
'Fear of the sheriff' or 'carrot-and-stick?'-- Tension arose between those who asserted that
Libya's decisions stemmed from the "show of force in Afghanistan and
Iraq" and those who attributed the "diplomatic success" to other
factors, such as the promise to lift UN and American sanctions. The conservative Australian stressed
that "pictures of a shrunken and humiliated Saddam Hussein
pushed...Qadhafi over the edge."
Germany's left-of-center Berliner Zeitung dismissed that notion,
crediting the process that began in 1999 with the UK resuming diplomatic
relations after the "Libyan regime began to acknowledge
responsibility" for previous terrorist acts. Given the prevailing direction of the Bush
Doctrine, Israel's conservative Jerusalem Post speculated that "it
was surely clear to Qadhafi that further investment in WMD would someday mean
regime change, not regime insurance."
Yet Euro writers held that the pledge proved the "carrot-and-stick
approach" was more effective than deploying a "military armada."
EDITOR'S NOTE: This analysis is based on 55
editorials from 25 countries over December 21 - 24 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
The conservative Times observed (12/22): "The initiative came not from Washington
or London, but from Muammar Qadhafi, and there is nothing coincidental about
the timing. The 'demonstration effect'
that military action would have on other actual or potential weapons proliferators
was a key argument in favor of military action against Saddam.... No Qadhafi pledge is to be taken on
trust. Libya acted after being caught
redhanded, when illicit material was intercepted in transit.... After a remarkable week in which Saddam was captured
and Libya converted, the losers are those who argued that war would make the
Middle East a more dangerous place. The
winners inhabit Iraq and Libya, as well as Downing Street and the White
"Sticks And Carrots To Get Disarmament"
The independent Financial Times argued (12/22): "Libya's decision to end its WMD
programs is a very pleasant surprise....
Opponents of the Iraq war said it showed disarmament could be achieved
by diplomacy. What it really illustrates
is that sticks and carrots can be combined, in certain circumstances and
certain countries, to produce disarmament."
"Libya's Decision Shows Discreet Diplomacy Can Achieve More
The center-left Independent editorialized (12/22): "If the comparison between Iraq and Libya
proves anything it is that discreet and patient talks yield positive results,
whereas megaphone diplomacy followed by military action brings only death and
destruction. If the treatment of either
country is to be a model for future action, it should be the secret talks with
Libya, not the war in Iraq."
"A Very British Coup"
The left-of-center Guardian contended (12/22): "This was a surprise that was both
totally unexpected and wholly welcome....
It was achieved by discussion--by endless talk, mostly in London,
latterly in Libya, and finally in a London gentlemen's club. Boring perhaps, but effective; and here, with
shock and awe, is a lesson for the Pentagon to absorb.... As Libya has indicated, the Iraq war actually
made agreement more difficult; it was eventually reached despite, not because
of, Iraq. If anything, it now seems Mr.
Bush may have inadvertently invaded the wrong country. The fabled WMD were in Libya all along. All the more reason, next time around, for
preferring words to guns and gung-ho."
Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (12/23): “The ‘opposition front’ in the Middle East is
slowly falling apart: Iraq, Syria, Libya
but also Iran.... The end of this
‘opposition front’ is redefining a different strategic landscape in the Middle
East.... The news of the deal concluded
with Washington is reassuring...if Qadhafi keeps his promise.... It is the end of an era for the Middle
East. Without the military occupation of
Iraq by the U.S., the diplomatic initiative by Paris, Berlin and London in Iran
could not have happened. And the fall of
Saddam has undoubtedly counted in Qadahfi's reversal. To say this does not mean an endorsement of
President Bush’s Iraq policy. We can
salute the end of the ‘opposition front’ all the while saying that the danger
that Saddam Hussein represented did not warrant a unilateral war without UN
support. We need also point out that as
the 'opposition front’ weakens, militant Islam grows, as if one danger replaced
another. We cannot help but point to
France’s absence in the Libya deal. The
birth of a new strategic reality in the Middle East comes hand in hand with
greater and more harmful divisions between Europe and the U.S.”
"Swallowing Bitter Pills"
Gerard Dupuy held in left-of-center Liberation
(12/23): “Revenge is a hamburger that
must be eaten cold. The expected
retaliation against France has taken on a more discreet appearance. It can be sensed in France’s diplomatic
disappointments about ITER as well as in the secret negotiations with
Libya.... This is happening just when
France is beginning to lose some measure of diplomatic footing in Europe. If glorious isolation is the price to pay for
lofty principles, then France is experiencing its high point in history.... The way FM de Villepin acknowledged the deal
with Libya is a reminder of how much French diplomacy has had to come down in
"Use Of Force Serves Diplomacy"
Jean-Louis Turlin commented in right-of-center Le Figaro
(12/22): "The Bush doctrine against
rogue states has scored again.... FM de
Villepin has saluted the accomplishment....
But the congratulations he is sending to Washington and London cannot
hide the fact that Paris was not included in the negotiations. French diplomacy is now without a means of
pressure against Tripoli in its own negotiations over the bombing of the UTA
aircraft.... For Washington, the year is
ending in an apotheosis.... Diplomacy
was served by the show of force in Afghanistan and Iraq."
"Paris Out Of The Game"
Antoine de Gaudemar wrote in left-of-center Liberation
(12/22): "If one is to believe the
Americans and the British, threat has its own advantages.... The agreement with Tripoli is one more
victory for the Bush-Blair tandem.... It
is also a victory for the international community.... De Villepin is not a sore loser: he praised
the agreement. But the fact is that
France was absent from the negotiations."
"The Ways Of The Empire"
Andre Bercoff commented in popular
right-of-center France Soir (12/22):
"As always (French) intellectuals are complaining about the way
Saddam's arrest was portrayed. The alarm
was sounded about reactions in the Arab world.
Well the reactions are in: Qadhafi
is falling in line, Iran is talking, Bachir el-Assad of Syria has no desire to
end up like Saddam, and Saudi Arabia may look into Wahabism a little more
closely. Fear of the Sheriff is working. Regional monarchs may even learn to spell the
word 'reform.' The Americans, who are
certainly no angels, and who have in past days supported their load of
dictators, have nevertheless contributed in keeping Hitlerism, Stalinism and
Muslim extremism from having the last word."
"Diplomacy Instead Of War"
Holger Schmale said in an editorial in left-of-center Berliner
Zeitung (12/23): "The claim
that Qadhafi's change of mind is a consequence of the Iraq war is pure
nonsense. The basis for this success was
developed in 1999, long before warrior George W. Bush entered the White
House. At that time, the Libyan regime
began to acknowledge responsibility for terrorist actions of earlier
years. Great Britain rewarded this by resuming
diplomatic relations. This obviously
increased Qadhafi's awareness that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction
yielded more than international isolation and economic decline. A similar process initiated by the Europeans
that was not accompanied by missionary, elevated negotiations only recently
caused the Iranian leadership to subject its nuclear program to international
control. This is why the dominos in the
region are now leaning to a better future, not because of but despite the
belligerent policy cultivated by the white House and the Pentagon."
"Qadhafi Has Understood"
Berthold Kohler noted on the front-page of
center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (12/22): "The second gift, President Bush and PM
Blair put under their Christmas tree following Saddams' demystification was the
conversion of Colonel Qadhafi. And there
is no doubt that this is a job diplomatically well done. But it is mainly an example of how political
power grows from military power, especially when there is no doubt about the
resolve to use this military power as a last resort. Qadhafi's reaction shows that predictions of
the opponents of the Iraq war that the U.S. moves will also force all rogue
states to develop WMD as a means for self-defense were premature. Cooperative solutions seem to be possible
even in a confrontation with a state leader, whom Reagan once called a 'rabid
"Message From The Tent"
Business daily Handelsblatt of
Duesseldorf editorialized (12/22):
"Qadhafi has now managed to come to a decision and sent a gesture
of peace that should not be underestimated.
It would now be foolish and negligent to describe it with malice as
cowardice or domestic opportunism. The
Libyan leader is obviously serious about his view.... He already signaled that he wants to leave
the group of rogue states when he atoned for his deeds to the victims of the
Lockerbie crash. But the message from
the tent signaled another fact: it is
not always necessary to carry out martial actions to achieve a goal. With patience, adamancy and discrete
diplomacy, important points can be scored in the fight against WMD and
terrorism. Only last week, Iran signed
the Additional Protocol to the NPT. This
strategy should also be applied in the case of North Korea."
"The Iraq Lesson"
Right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin judged
(12/22): "Fear teaches how to pray,
including Libya's leader Qadhafi. The
pictures of how the Iraqi army disintegrated and Saddam came out of his spider
hole carried a message. Qadhafi had
played with WMD and missiles. The
British and Americans convinced him that they were the most dangerous for
himself. And these were missiles that
could not hit the U.S., but Egypt, Italy and Greece today, and Israel and
southern Germany tomorrow. Now Qadhafi
wants to do without these missiles. He
is now seeking respect in his old days, to play the mediator and develop his
oil industry. And for this purpose,
investments and know-how from the West are more important than missiles and
nuclear weapons. Qadhafi will not be the
last who will learn the Iraq lesson."
"Qadhafi -- The Secrets Of The Turn Around"
Guido Rampoldi commented in left-leaning, influential La
Repubblica (12/23): "Qadhafi's
conversion to good brings two bits of news to Italy, one good and one bad. The good news is that if the Colonel keeps
his commitment to allow UN inspections of his non-conventional weapons arsenal,
Libya will theoretically give up the ability to keep a good half of Italy in
firing range of devastating weapons....
The bad news is that a crucial matter for Italian security did not go
through Rome, as would have been the case a few years ago, but through
London.... This confirms what some of
our diplomats have been lamenting: the
more Rome aligns itself with Bush and Sharon, the less it counts. It is not a matter of being nostalgic for a
foreign (and oil) policy, but to acknowledge that if a 'Qadhafi' today wants to
negotiate with the Americans, he will not look for a mediator who repeats
practically word by word what Bush said a few days before.... The fact is that Tripoli's interlocutors in
the covert negotiations of the last few months were members of the British
secret services, a good part of whom were against the invasion of Iraq and just
as skeptical of Saddam's WMD as they were sure of Qadhafi's WMD."
"The Colonel's Conversion To
Igor Man opined in centrist, influential La
Stampa (12/21): "Santa Claus in
Tripoli. Under the Christmas tree, at
the foot of the manger...Santa Claus has placed an unexpected gift: Qadhafi is definitely (?) leaving the club
[of] so-called 'rogue states.'... So if
Qadhafi is a good boy, sooner or later the (harsh) U.S. sanctions will be
lifted.... The events that took place
lead us to think that the U.S. had to invade Iraq. The victory in Afghanistan was without a
triumph (Osama, or his clone, continues to promise terrible punishments) so we
absolutely had to make up for that in order for Bush to hope for a second
mandate--to break the chain of terrorism (it doesn't matter if it was the
weakest link) personified by Saddam. It
is stupefying how in reporting the clamorous news of Qadhafi's [decision to say
'no' to terrorism] (it's an historical event, whether we like it or not), our
great allies did not make mention of the patient work done by our
diplomats. The groundwork for the coup
de theater of Qadhafi's repentance was laid down foremost by Italy, as far back
as under Dini's foreign ministry."
"Libya Gives Up Its Prohibited
Ennio Caretto judged in centrist,
top-circulation Corriere della Sera (12/21): "The same week Saddam Hussein was
captured, U.S. President George Bush obtained a second victory in foreign
policy, this time without the use of force....
Neither Bush nor Blair mentioned the role that Italy has silently
carried out behind the scene, by maintaining a dialogue with Qadhafi even in
the most difficult times, and by working to bring Tripoli back into the international
"Paul Wolfowitz Might Be Right After All"
Boris Yunanov mused in reformist weekly Moskovskiye Novosti
(12/23): "Colonel Qadhafi has put
up a white flag in the Libyan Desert....
Libya is willing to cooperate with the IAEA.... And so is Iran.... Tehran is said to be planning to cut
funding for Shia groups in South Lebanon....
Syria, reportedly, no longer wants to be a safe haven for Saddam's Baath
party members.... We are sure to hear
more of the same pretty soon. But even
that is enough to make it absolutely clear that nothing of the above would have
happened had the fear of sharing Saddam Hussein's fate not spread through all
of the Instability Arch, the fear that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
counted on so much as he called for a military operation in Iraq. Of late, there have been many prognosticators
speaking, not without gloating, of Iraq as America's second Vietnam, claiming
that the capture of Saddam, won't help....
It turns out that Bush was not all that arrogant, coming up with his
doctrine. Profound positive changes in
the geopolitical landscape in the world's most explosive region prove
that. The U.S. soldiers' sacrifices have
not been for nothing. So Paul Wolfowitz
might be right, after all."
"Bush Opens Arms For Qadhafi"
Aleksandr Reutov commented in business-oriented Kommersant
(12/22): "Libya's decision to forsake its WMD programs looks like an
indisputable victory for the U.S., one that has been won bloodlessly in the
U.S.-declared global war on terrorism.
That explains the triumphant tone of President Bush speaking with
satisfaction of the 'right choice' made by the Libyan leadership. Evidently, Washington hopes to see other
rogue states that pose a threat to U.S. interests follow suit. To show how countries like Iran and the DPRK
can benefit from capitulation on the U.S.' terms, George Bush will open his
arms even for odious figures like Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi. The White House must be unaware of the trap
it may fall into as it is extending a friendly hand to Muammar Qadhafi. Unrestrained in temperament, Qadhafi is sure
to rush into the U.S.' arms, eventually coming up with another of his
"Qadhafi Surrenders WMD"
Olga Dmitriyeva wrote in official government Rossiyskaya
Gazeta (12/22): "Small wonder
that the Colonel's U-turn, seen as a diplomatic victory in Washington and
London, has turned George Bush's and Tony Blair's heads.... No doubt, the war in Iraq, that is, the
prospect of coming next in line, contributed to Libya's having thrown up a
white flag.... The British and Americans
will fight wars to depose regimes like Hussein's. But they will just as readily do favors for
Qadhafi in spite of the fact that his regime is no less repressive and tyrannical. Human rights activists may suspect that
dictatorial regimes, should their leaders make a deal a la Colonel Qadhafi need
not worry about their future, as the U.S. and Britain will most likely overlook
spilt sauce on the table on which they see a petition on the surrender of WMD
or a big oil contract. Even so, what has
happened over the past three days is good and attests to a peaceful surrender
of weapons. It is better than another
"What's In The Offing"
Yulia Petrovskaya said in centrist Nezavisimaya
Gazeta (12/22): "While the
'Libyan initiative,' secretly discussed for the last nine months in Tripoli,
Washington and London, can be called this year's sensation, North Korea's
'blackmail' may become next year's challenge.
Many observers believe that Qadhafi feared that Saddam's fate might
become his own. But based on Tripoli's
statements, Libya is doing what it thinks is good for it and won't trade its
achievements in the WMD area for nothing."
"Libya, A Diplomatic Success"
Foreign editor Gerald Papy observed in the independent Libre
Belgique (12/23): “Only time will
tell, but Libya’s decision to give up any weapon of mass destruction might very
well turn out to be a much more important success than the arrest of Saddam Hussein.... The surprising outcome of nine months of
secret negotiations between Washington, London, and Tripoli brings the
spectacular demonstration that the United States’ foreign policy objectives can
also be reached through negotiations, something one was entitled to doubt when
remembering how George Bush had imposed the war in Iraq to the rest of the
world.... The White House’s Texan
cow-boy has demonstrated that he can also put intelligence agencies in the service
of his diplomats and broker agreements without deploying a military
armada.... Actually, what was obtained
from Iran and Libya in the field of disarmament is perhaps an example of how to
deal with conflicts, with a combination of negotiations and threats with
sanctions to reach the objective of stabilizing the world.... In this respect, Tony Blair - who was an
actor on the Iranian dossier with France and Germany, and on the Libyan one
with the United States - is demonstrating that he is not - or no longer -
‘George Bush’s poodle’ and that he has perhaps made the synthesis of American
and European methods to deal with conflicts....
The only hope that one can have is that the combination of these efforts
could lead to other successes, in particular solving the Israeli-Palestinian
Petr Pesek wrote in the center-right daily Lidove Noviny
(12/22): "It is always better to
have a crook like the Libyan colonel under control rather then to leave
him--even if in isolation--running amok.
The negotiations with Tripoli apparently began shortly before the
Americans and their allies attacked Iraq.
Even if the Libyan politicians reject the idea, it must have occurred to
them that one day they might encounter a similar fate. It will be interesting to watch now whether
other regimes will follow Qadhafi's example.
The agreement with the cunning Qadhafi is definitely positive, however,
much will now depend on its follow-up.
If it would imply that all evil deeds from the past could be forgotten,
that's no good. If it would, on the
contrary, result in a lesson that all the bad could be expiated, then it will
be all right."
DENMARK: "West Should
Not Be So Eager To Welcome Rogue State Libya Into The Warm"
Centrist Kristelight Dagblad asserted (12/23): "It is a matter of some concern that a
country that has consistently supported terror throughout the world suddenly
appears to be on the brink of being welcomed out of the cold by the West."
"Bush Can Build On Success In Libya"
Washington correspondent Klaus Justsen remarked in center-right Berlingske
Tidende (12/23): "Recent
developments [in Libya] are something upon which Bush can build. If this diplomatic success leads to
negotiations with North Korea and Iran, the President's popularity, which has
already increased, could reach astronomical heights."
The center right populist Irish Independent
editorialized (12/22): "Libya's
Colonel Qadhafi is all too well known in Ireland. He supplied the Provisional IRA with weapons which
enabled them to carry on their campaign of violence for decades.... More troubling still was his development of
weapons of mass destruction.... The
credit for these developments goes, in addition to Qadhafi and his government,
to prolonged, patient and firm negotiation by the representatives of the United
States and Britain. The British role was
pivotal. Prime Minister Tony Blair has
had a welcome success. But there is a
danger that observers and even participants will read the wrong messages from
the most favorable of events. The White
House saw Gadaffi's coming to terms as vindication of U.S. action in Iraq. One arms expert remarked that almost the
opposite was the case. Diplomacy might
or might not have worked in Iraq. It has
worked in Libya. It may already have
worked in Iran, where negotiations have been led by Europe. It may yet work in Syria. Prospects for North Korea appear dim, but
even that bizarre government may take example from the outbreaks of rationality
elsewhere. The U.S. and Britain have
have employed the stick with one dictator, the carrot with another. The carrot has produced a better result, the
belated conversion of Colonel Gadaffi."
"U.S. In Frenzy Jubilation"
Marion McKeone commented in the centrist Sunday Tribune(12/21): "Gadaffi's announcement is a boon to
Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair, but the revelation that Libya was
well on the way to making a nuclear bomb raised tricky questions about the
U.S.' intelligence and its priorities.
While Bush was relying on forged documents to make his sensational State
of the Union claims about Saddam's nuclear intentions, a state with a proven
record in sponsoring terrorism, was merrily brewing up a an enriched uranium
storm, unchallenged and unmolested by the U.S.... It seems that no one in the Bush
administration had read the IAEA reports, nor did they realize the strides
Libya had made with nuclear projects....
Amid all the jubiliation,...it would have been preferable if he (Saddam)
had been killed during the raid.... Of
most concern to the Bush administration however; is the possibility that a
trial could open a political can of worms unearthing all sorts of information
that could prove embarrassing to the U.S."
POLAND: "Power And
Leopold Unger wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza
(12/23): “It’s a farewell to arms. After 34 years of waving his ‘green
book’...Colonel Qadhafi has concluded that a check book might be more
efficient.... While state terrorism and
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction can sometimes be quelled only
through war--as in Afghanistan or Iraq--a gentler method of persuasion can be
tested under favorable circumstances. In
other words, use a carrot-and-stick approach.
With a great caution (the Colonel may again turn out to be
unaccountable) we can determine that after lengthy efforts the carrot proved
effective with regard to Libya.”
Libya Might Show The Way"
Independent, liberal Stockholm morning daily Dagens Nyheter
editorialized (12/23): "It
certainly was a breakthrough when Libya the other day conceded that the country
had WMD, offered to scrap them, and welcomed international inspectors. After the Libyan decision and the
insufficient Iraqi concessions there might be reasons to regard future of arms
control in a somewhat brighter light....
Behind Qadhafi's public admission there might be lessons learned from
Iraq.... In order not to meet the same
fate (as Saddam Hussein), the Libyan leader possibly realized that he better
put all cards on the table, and displayed the weapons himself before someone
else decided to do so.... The question
now is how far-reaching conclusions one may draw from Qadhafi's
cooperativeness. Was it just an
unusually fortunate combination of matters that made several months of
negotiations between Libya and the U.S. and the UK produce a positive
result? Can Libya's decision make others
follow? Perhaps additional states might
be willing to disarm without the use of force.
Perhaps international arms control now will take a major step
TURKEY: "The Libya
Sami Kohen commented in mass appeal Millyet (12/24): "The surprisingly rational and realistic
new approach by Qadhafi is comforting news for the whole world. More importantly, it is such a good Christmas
gift for Bush and Blair.... The Libyan
leader apparently felt strong pressure mounting against his isolation policies,
and figured out that he must change his stance on WMD and terrorism in the
post-war era. He made a clever move by
establishing a dialogue with the Western world instead of defying it. Unlike Saddam Hussein, Qadhafi corrected his
mistakes in time. The Libya example also
proves that diplomacy is still the best option for resolving international
disputes, a method that was not used in the case of Iraq."
"Qadhafi And The Pax Americana"
Yilmaz Oztuna wrote in the conservative-mass appeal Turkiye
(12/23): "The recent cooperation
shown by Libyan leader Qadhafi once again proves that anything and everything
is possible in international relations.
Qadhafi's anti-American rhetoric is apparently a thing of the past,
because today he is not only providing valuable information to the CIA about
al-Qaida's organizational methods in Africa, but also has accepted
international inspection of Libya's WMD programs. This is a clear indication of Libya being a
part of the 'Pax Americana.'... The
Libya example should be a lesson for anyone in the region who believes that
sticking to old-fashioned policies and remaining resistant to change is a
Eccentric, Wears Flowery Shirts And Is No Saddam"
Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/24): " The gala
announcements made this weekend, first by Tony Blair and half an hour later by
George Bush, in which the two granted Libya a passport back to the 'Family of
Nations' without any reservations whatsoever, indicate that not only Libya is
pleased with the deal.... Qadhafi, the
most veteran leader in the Arab world...has always had a hard time being
recognized as a respectable leader both in the Middle East and in Africa, which
twice refused to choose him as president of the Organization of African
States. His unusual whims, female
bodyguards and flowery shirts have evidently had their effect. But this time, it seems as if Libya's return
into 'the bosom of the family of nations' -- largely motivated by the downfall
and capture of Saddam Hussein -- will help make a Qadhafi-led Libya into one of
the more sane and rational states in the region."
"Small 'Yom Kippur'"
Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the editorial of
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/24): "Yet another surprise
-- this time from Libya's direction.
Qadhafi's diplomatic turnabout represents a kind of small 'Yom Kippur'
for Israel's intelligence branches. Once
again: we didn't know, we didn't see, and the worst is that we weren't
told. When this is about diplomatic
Middle Eastern developments pertaining to a thaw or to arrangements, Israel is
beginning to get used to finding itself surprised. It looks as though it will be a nice surprise
if we're not surprised for once.... A further question arises in the margins of
the Libyan affair: how did it happen that our American and British friends
didn't tell us that Qadhafi intends to return to the family of nations? Do they trust Israel's discretion so
"The Conservatives Are Beginning To Win"
Foreign News Editor Arik Bachar wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv
(12/22): "Are President Bush's
domino stones starting to fall in the right direction in the Middle East? There have been many indications in recent
weeks that the basic assumption of the 'Bush doctrine' correctly predicted the
influence of zero-tolerance policy vis-a-vis the madmen of this region. The clearest and most surprising sign of the
fact that American diplomacy's throwing down the gauntlet is slowly but surely
changing reality in this neighborhood was Libya's dramatic coming out of the
nuclear closet during the weekend....
For Bush, Qadhafi's action crowned one of the most successful weeks of
his term--a week that started with the capture of the beggar from Baghdad at
the bottom of a dark pit."
"On Dictatorial Repentance"
The conservative Jerusalem Post observed (Internet version,
12/21): "Libyan strongman Muammar
Qadhafi has stunned the world by choosing to relinquish his weapons of mass
destruction, including a nuclear program that exceeded most Western estimates. But perhaps nobody should have been
surprised. If there is one
characteristic common to all dictators, it is their respect for power--or
rather, for the will to use power.
What's telling here is the timing:
although the decision was announced last week, it was actually made in March,
as the U.S. was gearing up to depose Saddam Hussein. To those who claim that Operation Iraqi
Freedom failed to uncover WMD, the case of Libya now serves as a devastating
rebuke.... Unlike with Iraq, the West
put up a genuinely united front against Libya.... Libya was not a named member of Bush's Axis
of Evil, but it was surely clear to Qadhafi that further investment in WMD
would someday mean regime change, not regime insurance. The U.S. president's immunity to diplomatic
gamesmanship of the kind attempted by Iraq via its allies on the Security
Council, and now being practiced to uncertain effect by Iran and North Korea,
surely reinforced the message. Third,
the West offered rewards for good behavior, namely, the lifting of UN and U.S.
sanctions...[but] only after Libya had offered clear proof that it had changed
course. This is very far from what we
are now witnessing in Iran.... Still,
the Libyan saga carries lessons for the Arab world. Tripoli's frequent involvement in myriad
conflicts, including an invasion of neighboring Chad and assassination attempts
on various leaders in neighboring Egypt and Sudan, its repeated attempts to
unite with assorted Arab countries, and its more recent policy of turning its
back at the West and focusing on Africa, have established its position as a
strange bird even among the Middle East's already bizarre ecosystem of
generalissimos, princes, and kinglings.
Now, with Saddam Hussein universally exposed as a coward, and Qadhafi
not only admitting some of his crimes but even hoping to repent for them, one
hopes that at least some across the Arab world will start candidly asking what
their post-colonial leaders have done to their countries.... Qadhafi's promise is an accomplishment and a
Western victory, but it does not vitiate the rule that dictatorships, even
tamed ones, cannot form a lasting foundation for peace and stability."
WEST BANK: "The Fixed
And The Floating In The Current Arab Situation"
Muhammad Shaker Abdallah opined in the independent Al-Quds
(12/21): "The Libyan regime has
passed all the tests and made all the financial, moral and ideological
sacrifices to acquire the acceptance and pleasure of Uncle Sam and John Bull
(of Britain). But these two powers will
not rest as long as the Libyan regime remains as is with its symbols and
heritage. They will push for a
'democratic mechanism' that leads to the establishment of a Libyan government
made up of dissident elements who enjoy heavy presence in the West. It would be on the pattern of the Karzai government
in Afghanistan and the transitional Governing Council in Iraq. The strategy is
the same even though the tactics are different.
Time will reveal the details of the hidden plans to 'pacify' Iran, Syria
and Lebanon, and in the medium and long term Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and North
Africa. As for Sudan, it is 'being
tackled' and the result will come out within one year at the most."
The English-language pro-government Arab News
editorialized (Internet version, 12/22):
"There appears to be a disproportionate cheer over Libya’s decision
to renounce its weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The country has hardly been a threat to its
neighbors and whatever WMD it has are inadequate to raise an alarm as in the
case of, say, North Korea. But the same
cannot be said of Israel’s stockpile of WMD.
Not only is it known to be a nuclear rogue state, but is also a country
with a well-stocked armory of biological and chemical weapons. This is what has left the Arab world
disillusioned at the Western pressure on Libya to give up its WMD programs
while Israel is not even on the radar.
This double standard has been the oft-repeated worry of the Arab
world. Israel is a grave threat to its
neighbors.... The scare campaign which
the U.S. and Britain used to justify their invasion of Iraq would fit the
Israelis to the letter. But Israel was
never in the league of Middle East nations under Western threat. Iran, Syria, Libya and, of course, Iraq,
were.... Over the years, in the absence
of cohesive pressure from the West, Israel is believed to have gone on to
acquire production capability for mustard and nerve agents and has been running
an advanced biological weapons program....
By granting Israel the right to produce WMD that can only be used for
the sole purpose of mass murder, and then demanding other Middle East countries
to cease the mere desire to produce them, is the utmost hypocrisy. Libya has now been coerced into scaling back
its weapons programs. Iraq has already
been neutralized, Iran has been made to sign a nuclear protocol and Syria is
under constant threat to fall in line.
Egypt and Jordan are already bonded by U.S.-backed pacts with
Israel. The entire Western effort is
geared toward ensuring the security of Israel while the Arab nations remain
exposed to the Israel’s deadly arsenal.
While Libya’s decision to destroy its WMD is unmistakably a positive
step, it should be matched by a similar move by Israel. At a time when there appears to be a wave
toward disarming the Arab-Muslim world, an unfettered Israel poses a grave and
immediate threat to the entire region."
Unconventional Gambit: Good, But Not
The moderate, English-language Daily Star remarked
(Internet version, 12/22): "Libya’s
decision to stop developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is the best sort
of good news, as is the consensus in Western capitals that Tripoli should reap
some kind of reward for the move. The
terrible menace posed by [WMD]...has been reduced, and the likelihood that
other countries might follow Libya’s lead has been increased. As has been his habit for more than three
decades.... Qadhafi has managed once
again to surprise the world. The only
difference is that on this occasion, his behavior is drawing commendation
rather than condemnation. The WMD
announcement bodes well for Libya’s ability to reintegrate with the rest of the
international community.... Before
anyone gets too enthused about the potential of Qadhafi’s gambit, however, a
strong dose of reality is very much in order.... Libya remains a political backwater, a land
that time forgot while a bizarre personality cult was erected around the person
of Qadhafi Qadhafi may not be a pure
villain in the mold of Saddam Hussein, but he presides over a police state that
metes out nothing but despair and deprivation to his people.... There is an argument to be made, however
weakly, that the Libyan government’s treatment of its own citizens is an
internal affair. The same cannot be
said, though, of its meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. Several African nations continue to be
destabilized by Tripoli’s support for armed opposition groups.... The renunciation of WMD might be nothing more
than a brilliant ploy, a note of feigned sanity designed solely to perpetuate a
regime built on madness. If Qadhafi
wants to be taken seriously as someone who truly desires membership in the
civilized world, he should have to go far beyond this basic act of
self-preservation and free his people from the bonds of fear.... It is on progress in this direction that
Qadhafi’s 'rehabilitation' should depend."
"Iraq Is Lebanon In A 'State Of Denial'"
Rafiq Khoury commented in centrist Al-Anwar (12/21): "Colonel Qadhafi is not the only ruler
who saw the Iraqi lesson on the blackboard.
But he was the fastest among rulers to learn the lesson, through an
extraordinary step: Abandoning weapons of mass destruction after denying their
existence for a long time. And while the
timing of the announcement implies that Saddam Hussein's image in detention had
its effect, the dialogue between Washington, London and Tripoli started months
ago.... Bush and Blair's Christmas
present came to the rescue at the peak of an impasse. A present that would give them the ability to
fight back with two weapons their opponents raised against them after the
wavering in Iraq. The first is that strategic changes have actually started to
affect the region smoothly and the Libyan example is just one in a series. The second is that Libya's confession to the
presence of weapons could be used to say that Saddam's denials were similar to
Gadhafi's earlier denials, and the fact that no weapons of mass destruction
were found in Iraq does not negate their existence. But the issue of denial goes beyond the story
of weapons to the bigger game in Iraq, the Middle East and the world where the
American project, announced under the banner of democracy and change, is just a
cover to an imperialistic project denied by its owners...and that is the worst
kind of denial.... The challenges that
grow before the Iraqis after the detention of Saddam, and the efforts to plant
religious and ethnic feud, imply that there are intentions to make of Iraq 'a
Lebanon in a state of denial', because, just as in Lebanon, no one is admitting
that Iraq is a religious and sectarian country when the game is run on
religious and sectarian grounds."
"Washington's Message After The Libyan Decision: War Is
Possible And Cooperation Is Possible"
Wafiq Ramadan opined in moderate an-Nahar (12/21): "Suddenly, realism and pragmatism spread
among leaders of some of the countries in the region who were elected or came
by (the force of) tanks and believed they were knights who came on white horses
to rescue people who hate them and face countries that despise them. And those who remain of those leaders still
believe that their sons can succeed them and that financial and political
corruption is unknown to anybody. It
seems that the matter for such leaders is over, because the U.S., especially
Bush's Administration has proved that it can change regimes."
"The Detention Of Saddam And Qadhafi's Step"
Charles Ayoub commented in independent non-sectarian Ad-Diyar
(12/22): "Arab lines are faltering
fast before the American plan, the UN is falling before Washington and the role
of Europe declines as a result. Saddam
has, and without regrets, been detained.
He was a criminal and a murderer, but no one can say he was a
coward. The coward is the person who worked
for Saddam and who turned him in to the Americans.... President Bush is not the victor, because
neither the American intelligence nor its satellites could discover Saddam's
location. The victory the Americans are
trying to imply is treason by an Arab who is not an Arab, because he should
have shot Saddam dead instead of carrying out such betrayal. And, now, Gadhafi takes a step in which he
assassinated the role of Europe who stood by the Arabs. He assassinated the role of France and
Germany who stood by the UN, as he went to Washington and surrendered to rescue
his regime at the expense of the Arab position.
It would have been better for Gadhafi to call for a meeting for the Arab
League and announce his initiative through it.... What more can one say, difficulties are
increasing in the face of Lebanon and Damascus and all because of Saddam
Hussein's mistakes, Gadhafi's crawling."
Nuclear Weapons: Washington Faces Its
Sabri Brahem held in independent French-language Le Quotidien
(12/23): "The unilateral Libyan
decision should be used as an example, as well as an opportunity, in the
negotiations on Israel's possession of WMD....
The necessity to see the Middle East rid of Israeli weapons should be
translated today into a tangible and efficient international action to bring
pressure to bear on Israel. Of course,
this issue is very delicate, given the American connivance and complicity in
the reinforcement of Israeli military capacities. Libya's surprise has unveiled American
inaction in regards to the Israeli WMD program...and the pressure that
Washington does not seem to be ready to place on Israel."
"Libya's Welcome Move On Weapons"
A editorial in the liberal Melbourne Age observed (12/23):
"Whether Colonel Gaddafi was influenced by the events in Iraq and the
capture of Saddam Hussein remains a matter of conjecture. In the end, Libya negotiated its new position
in the international community through diplomacy.... Qadhafi's Libya has terrorised the West for
30 years. Now it wants to renounce
weapons of mass terror, and that is welcome news. Would that it were possible to have a
nuclear-free Middle East. That will take
a settlement of the Israel-Palestine dispute, which still seems a long way
"Half-Speed Ahead In Thaw With Libya"
The lead editorial in the conservative Australian
held (12/22): "Almost nothing
President George W. Bush said in 2003 aroused as much derision from the
America-haters as his claim that a liberated Iraq could have a positive flow-on
effect on peace and security throughout the Middle East.... Well, guess what. Less than a week after the final evidence
that Saddam Hussein has indeed departed, with his capture near Tikrit, one of
the region's most destabilizing rogue states, Libya, has announced that it will
scrap its nuclear and chemical weapons programs.... There can be no doubt that what finally
pushed Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi over the edge were last week's pictures
of a shrunken and humiliated Saddam Hussein....
The cave-in by Qadhafi is a big win for Mr. Bush and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair, and for the world."
CHINA: "Libya Makes A
Hu Xuan remarked in the official
English-language newspaper China Daily (12/23): "The decision made by Libya on Saturday
to allow snap UN nuclear arms inspections, a deal that goes beyond the basic
demands of the main nuclear arms control treaty, is certainly laudable.... Tripoli's latest decision was the culmination
of a week of intense diplomacy that followed nine months of clandestine talks
with the United States and Britain, which was pivotal in isolating Libya after
the bombing in 1988 of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.... Libya was freed of broader UN sanctions this
year after accepting responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and paying
billions to victims' families.... As the
non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery is
the consensus of the international community, Libya's move undoubtedly serves
the interest of its own people and adds to the security of the rest of the
"Reading Libya's Declaration"
Xu Ping commented on the official Communist Party People's
Daily (Renmin Ribao) (12/22):
"Libya's great concession on weapons of mass destruction is a
strategic choice that the Libyan government made to improve its international
image. Its main objective is to persuade
the U.S. and UK to remove its name from a list of 'rogue countries' and
supporters of terrorism.... Some people
believe that Libya's promise to destroy WMD is like offering proof to the
international community that the U.S. and UK were always correct in saying that
'it is very dangerous that irresponsible countries are developing WMD.' Bush and Blair seem also seem to have sent an
indirect message to the international community that the military action to
oust Saddam's regime in Iraq was necessary....
Libya's declaration already has led Bush to declare that 'the U.S. is
safer.'... We can't underestimate the
influence of Libya's giving up its WMD development will have on the Middle East
and North Africa.... The Arab world
feels that the western world...has adopted 'double standards' in the Middle
East, intentionally in connivance with Israel.
In the future, the Arab world will use Libya as an example to exert
pressure on Israel on the issue of WMD."
Decision Good Lesson For DPRK"
An editorial in the top-circulation, moderate-conservative Yomiuri
observed (12/22): "The second round
of six-way talks on the DPRK's nuclear development program has been put off
until next year. But the postponement
must not allow North Korea to gain time for its development of nuclear
weapons. The other nations participating
in the talks, including the U.S., Japan and South Korea, should work harder to
resume the talks early next month. The
North continues to justify its development of nuclear weapons, saying that
former Iraqi President Hussein's regime collapsed because it did not have an
adequate deterrent. This rigid attitude
has made North Korea's isolation in the world community even more
conspicuous. Libya, against which the
U.S. imposed sanctions after accusing it of sponsoring terrorism, has decided
to abandon WMD and rejoin the world community.
North Korea must consider this fact carefully."
"Credit Should Be Given To Patient
The liberal Asahi editorialized
(12/21): "Libya has decided to
abandon its WMD development programs immediately and unconditionally. Some observers say the use of force by the
U.S. and Britain against Iraq's Saddam Hussein forced Libyan strongman Col.
Qadhafi to give up production plans for WMD.
Despite this development, the U.S. and Britain cannot justify the Iraq
war unless they can discover Saddam's WMD.
President Bush urged the DPRK to learn a lesson from Libya's decision
and give up its nuclear arms development programs. One day before Libya's decision was
announced, Iran signed a protocol accepting surprise international inspections
of its nuclear facilities. It is not
U.S. pressure, but patient diplomatic efforts from Britain, France and Germany
that has convinced Tehran to initial the accord."
SOUTH KOREA: "North
Korea Should Follow in Libya's Footsteps"
The independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (12/23): "With Libyan President Qadhafi's
decision to give up development of weapons of mass destruction and to allow
international inspectors to check his country's facilities, North Korea has become
the last country labeled by the U.S. as a rogue state and proliferator of
weapons of mass destruction. Washington
is also making it clear that the North is the next target. In this regard, Pyongyang, especially
Chairman Kim Jong-il, must accurately read the current international trend and
make a wise and courageous decision....
President Bush welcomed Mr. Qadhafi's decision, saying that it would
lead Libya to improved relations with the U.S.
The international community also praised the Libyan move and promised to
offer economic aid. This global response
clearly explains why it is advantageous for North Korea to resume six-party
talks on its nuclear program at an early date and to open up its system through
peaceful means. Chairman Kim must note
that he does not have much time to decide whether he will be a Saddam or a
"Why Does Libya Abandon Its WMD Program?"
Nguyen Dai Phuong remarked in Tien Phong, the daily run by
the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Brigade, (12/23): "As conditions of today's world are
changing fast, Libya sees clearly that if it continues pursuing its WMD program
it will face many difficulties....
Libyan leaders have made an absolutely right decision after having
analyzed the loss-and-gain aspects of the announcing of their WMD program
abandonment. With this move, the U.S.
now has no reason to maintain the embargo against Libya, which has been
effective for more than a decade.... The
ball is now in President Bush's court.
If the U.S. speedily makes a decision to lift the embargo and restore
normal diplomatic relations with Libya, that will benefit not only Libya but
also President Bush's political prestige given the upcoming election. In addition, that will help strengthen the
stability in the region and in the world, and benefit American oil companies as
"A Stunning Decision"
Luong Duyen Tam observed in Dai Doan Ket, the bi-daily run
by the Vietnam Fatherland Front, (12/23):
"The person who benefits from Colonel Qadhafi's decision is U.S.
President George W. Bush.... Unlike the
case of Iraq, where the U.S. has lost tens of billions of dollars and hundreds
of soldiers but still unable to find any evidence of Iraq possessing WMDs, this
time the U.S. did not have to fire a single shot and to lose a single drop of blood,
yet, they have acquired evidence of Libya's WMDs and are about to get them
eliminated.... In return for Libya's
confession, many believe the U.S. and the West must have a comparable reward,
which may be a decision to lift the embargo imposed on Libya for years.... Libya's voluntary abandonment of its program
to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is a good signal because it
opens up opportunities to solve the WMD issue peacefully, paving the way for
humankind to gradually eliminate all weapons of mass destruction."
"The Colonel Capitulates"
Chief editorialist André Pratte mused in the centrist La Presse
(12-23): "It would be surprising if what transpired in Iraq had no impact
on the Libyan decisions. However that does not seem to have been the key
factor.... For ten years...Libya was the
target of UN sanctions.... American
sanctions imposed in 1986 are still in place.
The sanctions have hurt Libya. In
1982, it's GDP was about equal to that of the United Arab Emirates. It is now seven times smaller. Supporting terrorism and thumbing his nose at
the West made the Libyan dictator a star among Arab populations, but was
worthless as a development strategy....
Sanctions can be an effective tool as we saw in South Africa. All that is required is determination and
patience. How long would it have taken
for Saddam to buckle under the pressure of a country in ruins? Nobody knows.
But we remain convinced that the threat being neither important nor
imminent, the world could have afforded the wait."
"Qadhafi Backs Down"
The conservative Gazette opined (12-23): "As Colonel
Moammar Qadhafi now agrees to allow inspections and suspend his weapons
programs, we should bear in mind firm sanctions, persistent diplomacy and the
object lesson of Saddam's downfall were at the root of his apparent conversion
to law and order.... Qadhafi has few
friends in the Arab world. Oil money is
not what it was in the heyday of OPEC and the Soviet Union is no longer around
to furnish arms. Qadhafi is opening his
borders to inspection in 2003 precisely because of the promise of lifted
embargoes. We cannot trust the colonel
but we can expect him to act occasionally in his own best interests. The lesson of this case is even in Libya,
sanctions and diplomacy work."
"Can Qadhafi Be Trusted?"
Amir Taheri wrote in the conservative National
Post (Internet version, 12/22):
"Many questions remain, not the least being: can anyone trust Qadhafi? This is not the first time Qadhafi has
promised to change course and 'come in from the cold.'... Some British and Arab sources claim this time
will be different.... The liberation of
Iraq has put the fear of God in many Middle Eastern despots.... The second reason why this time may be
different is that Qadhafi's return from the cold has been negotiated over more
than three years and with great care....
The argument, therefore, is that we should take Qadhafi's latest policy
reversal as a strategic change and not a tactical move by a frightened
man. Nevertheless, a strong dose of
skepticism is in order. Anyone with the
slightest knowledge of Qadhafi's career would be familiar with his capricious
and sudden policy changes.... The least
that one can say is that Qadhafi is an unstable maverick who could change
policy anytime and as his pleases. With
an ego the size of Everest, Qadhafi believes himself to be the world's greatest
philosopher.... To describe Qadhafi as a
'statesman' is as accurate as calling Mae West a nun. Surely, British and American politicians
cannot be so naive as to believe that a man like Qadhafi, and a system like the
one he has created, can ever pursue a rational policy.... A totalitarian state such as the one Qadhafi
has built can never become a true friend and partner of the Western
democracies. The potentate who has
ordered a halt to a policy of terror and weapons of mass destruction could
easily order a resumption anytime he likes....
A regime's foreign policy is the natural extension of its domestic
policies. As long as the Libyan people
have absolutely no say in decision-making, anything that Qadhafi might say
should be taken with a pinch of salt.
The United States and Britain should not allow the prospect of juicy
contracts in Libya to divert attention from what President Bush has identified
as the vital imperative of democratization. Real change in Libya will come only
if political prisoners are released, the censorship of the media is stopped,
and the ban on political parties lifted."
BRAZIL: "A Step By
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (12/23): "Libya's admission that it possesses
weapons of mass destruction and its commitment to destroy them is a positive
development. The fewer nations that keep
nuclear, chemical and biological arsenals the better it will be for the world,
although the complete elimination of these types of arms does not necessarily
mean a more peaceful planet. Anyhow,
Qadhafi's decision can only be praised....
George W. Bush has attributed Qadhafi's attitude to the invasion of
Iraq.... It is impossible to say that
Bush's hard line in Iraq has not influenced Qadhafi, but it is reasonable to
credit Libya's new posture to a previous Libyan effort aimed at getting off the
list of pariah nations.... Apparently
Qadhafi's decision is aimed at convincing the U.S. and France that he has
changed.... The Libyan case shows that
the international community does not necessarily need to resort to war to
pressure dictators to give up WMD."
JAMAICA: "Israel Should
Also Put Up Its Hand"
The Editor-in-Chief writes in the centrist, business-oriented Jamaica
Observer (12/22): "We would
have preferred that the Libyan action was part of a broader agreement on
non-proliferation or, better, a total ban on WMDs.... The latter is unlikely to happen. Libya's declaration, however, has been made
and Col Qadhafi's action can be made to produce a greater dividend for
international and Middle East peace if the guarantors of the area's security
put pressure on Israel, the region's only nuclear power, to follow Libya's
example. It should renounce its nuclear arsenal…with Col Gadhafi's undertaking,
Iran's decision to open its nuclear facilities to policing and inspection by
International Atomic Energy Agency and the fact, as is now clear, that Iraq had
no WMDs, Israel, with its strong conventional army, has little to fear from
Arab neighbour…it would give Israel's backers greater credibility and lessen
the credible complaints about a hypocritical policy in the region. It would add
the prospect for genuine peace in the Middle East”