Cal  Thomas

First Saddam Hussein falls to the Bush Doctrine, and now Libya's dictator, Moammar Kadafi, buckling under pressure, announces he will give up his efforts (and they were considerable) to develop weapons of mass destruction. He has also allowed American and British inspectors into Libya to see what he's been up to for the last two decades.

The New York Times had advised a different course of action. The newspaper editorialized that the United States should have followed the example of the United Nations and lifted sanctions after Libya's settlement with the families of those killed aboard Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, a terrorist attack in which Kadafi grudgingly admitted his role. To its credit, The Times has acknowledged it was wrong and President Bush was right. In a Dec. 20 editorial, the newspaper said, "This page recommended lifting American sanctions.but President Bush left them in place pending further steps, most notably Libya's decision to end its unconventional weapons programs. It is now clear that he was right to do so. The added American pressure worked just as intended."

No wonder the president doesn't read the newspapers.

This policy success should be a lesson to the United Nations, "peace activists" and others who have criticized the Bush strategy of preemption and the "failure" (so far) to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - even though Saddam Hussein used them in the past. Dictators lie and deceive. This lesson should have been learned in the last century. Applying moral equivalency in negotiations with dictators is like taking a used car salesman at his word without inspecting the vehicle.

The fruits of the war to topple Saddam Hussein are becoming apparent. Even Democrats are starting to acknowledge the significance of Libya's announcement. Ashton B. Carter, who served as assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration, said that the Iraq war was a turning point in convincing Kadafi to relinquish his weapons. One senior Bush administration official told reporters last Friday night (Dec. 19) that Libya had progressed "much further" in its nuclear program than the United States had suspected, including acquisition of centrifuges that could be used to produce highly enriched uranium.

Given Kadafi's history, weapons inspectors will need to remain focused. In a rare appearance in the White House press room, President Bush acknowledged as much when he said, "Because Libya has a troubled history with America and Britain, we will be vigilant in ensuring its government lives up to all its responsibilities."

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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