Charles Krauthammer

``Libya Vows to Give Up Banned Weapons; Two Decades of Sanctions, Isolation Wore Down Gaddafi''
-- Washington Post headline, front-page news analysis, Dec. 20.

WASHINGTON -- Yeah, sure. After 18 years of American sanctions, Gaddafi randomly picks Dec. 19, 2003, as the day for his surrender. By amazing coincidence, Gaddafi's first message to Britain -- principal U.S. war ally and conduit to White House war councils -- occurs just days before the invasion of Iraq. And his final capitulation to U.S.-British terms occurs just five days after Saddam is fished out of a rat hole.

As Jay Leno would say, what are the odds? The nine months of negotiations with Libya perfectly frame the war on Iraq and the fall of Saddam. How is it possible to ignore the most blindingly obvious collateral benefits?

Imagine this kind of thinking 50 years ago: ``Japan Surrenders --Years of War Deprivation Proved Too Much.''

Dateline Tokyo, Aug. 14, 1945. Japan capitulated yesterday to the allies, worn down by the accumulation of hardships from the war begun with the sudden outbreak of violence in Hawaii in December 1941. The housing shortage in Tokyo had become particularly acute, especially since the nights of March 9 and 10. And there also has appeared to be an abrupt downturn in recent economic activity in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Sen. John Kerry was equally ridiculous in his explanation of the Libya deal: ``An administration that scorns multilateralism and boasts about a rigid doctrine of military pre-emption has almost in spite of itself demonstrated the enormous potential for improving our national security through diplomacy.''

Unlike Howard Dean, Kerry is not a foreign policy ignoramus. Does he really believe that the Libyan surrender is a triumph of multilateralism? Does he really think that Libya's capitulation -- coinciding precisely with a pre-emptive war that destroyed Saddam Hussein -- is a contradiction of the ``rigid doctrine of military pre-emption''?

What kind of naif thinks that this is a triumph for ``diplomacy,'' as if, say, Bill Clinton had sent Warren Christopher to Tripoli and he chatted Gaddafi into surrendering his WMDs?

The Democrats seem congenitally incapable of understanding that force has not just the effect of disarming the immediate enemy, but has a deterrent effect on others similarly situated. Iraq was not attacked randomly. It was attacked as part of a clearly enunciated policy -- now known as the Bush Doctrine -- of targeting, by pre-emptive war if necessary, hostile regimes engaged in terror and/or refusing to come clean on WMDs.

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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