LIBYA’S WMD….Did our invasion of Iraq have anything to do with Libya’s decision to come clean on its WMD programs? The timing seems pretty convenient, but on the other hand it’s also true that Libya has been slowly changing its ways for nearly a decade now, for reasons that are likely to remain forever inscrutable to everyone except Moammar Gaddafi himself.
But at least two unlikely sources seem to agree that the invasion had an effect. The first is Gaddafi’s son, who said, “Libya was under pressure, under threat, sufficient American threat” to enter into negotiations. The second is Hans Blix, of all people, who said he suspected that “Gaddafi could have been scared by what he saw happen in Iraq.”
“Within months after September 11th, we had the Libyans, the Syrians and the Iranians all coming to us saying, ‘What can we do [to better relations]?’ We didn’t really engage any of them, because we decided to do Iraq. We really squandered two years of capital that will make it harder to apply this model to the hard cases like Iran and Syria,” said Flynt Leverett, a former Bush administration National Security Council staff member now at the Brookings Institution.
The fact that Libya was apparently serious about negotiating with us certainly makes you wonder if Iran and Syria were equally serious. And it’s also hard not to wonder what would have happened with Iraq if we’d been willing to spend a year negotiating with them instead of five rather obviously unserious months.
Food for thought.