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December 24, 2003 LIBYA WMD PLEDGE: RESULT OF IRAQ WAR OR 'PERSISTENT DIPLOMACY?'

December 24, 2003

LIBYA WMD PLEDGE: RESULT OF IRAQ WAR OR 'PERSISTENT DIPLOMACY?'

KEY FINDINGS

 

** 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.

 

MAJOR THEMES

 

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 region."

'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: Sandra Goldberg

 

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.

 

EUROPE

BRITAIN: "Qadhafi's Reasons"

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 House."

"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 Than War"

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."

FRANCE: "Libyan Turning Point"

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 its strutting."

"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."

 

GERMANY: "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 dog.'"

 

"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."

 

ITALY:   "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 Respectability"

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 Weapons"

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 community."

 

RUSSIA: "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 'unifying' projects."

 

"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 war."

 

"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."

 

BELGIUM: "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 conflict."

 

CZECH REPUBLIC: "Libyan Fox"

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."

 

IRELAND: "Qadhafi's Conversion"

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 Diplomacy"

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."

SWEDEN: "Qadhafi's 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 forward."

TURKEY: "The Libya Example"

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 virtue."

MIDDLE EAST

ISRAEL: "He's 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 little?"

"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."

 

SAUDI ARABIA: "Israeli WMD"

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."

LEBANON: "Qadhafi's Unconventional Gambit: Good, But Not Good Enough"

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."

TUNISIA: "Israeli Nuclear Weapons: Washington Faces Its Responsibilities"

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."

EAST ASIA

 

AUSTRALIA: "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 off."

 

"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 Laudable Move"

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 world."

"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."

JAPAN: "Libya's 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 Diplomacy"

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 Qadhafi."

 

VIETNAM: "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 well."

"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."

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

 

CANADA: "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 Libya"

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"

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