Dinner With Qaddafi

November 5, 2011

Dirty Hands


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

The Bush Administration

The most stunning and well-known acts of terror that the Qaddafi Regime in Libya committed (out of many) was the Lockerbie bombing, or Pan Am Flight 103 destruction in December 1988. After the attack the world community, including the United States, placed various sanctions on Libya. A little more than 16 years later the Bush administration removed all sanctions we had on Libya and two years after restored full diplomatic ties, even opening an embassy in Tripoli. The Bush administration’s justification for the about phase was the Libyan Regime’s decision to dismantle nuclear weapons and pay reparations to the families of the victims in the Lockerbie bombing. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Bush administration was so friendly with the Qaddafi Regime that the government established a permanent presence in Libya and the C.I.A. cooperated with them on counter-terrorist measures. The normalization of the United States ties with Libya was considered by many in the Bush administration to be one of their major foreign policy accomplishments. And the friendliness toward Qaddafi extends even after the Bush administration as we have politicians like John McCain and Joe Lieberman calling Libya a crucial ally in the United States war against terror, or that the friendship between Libya and the United States has taken a remarkable and positive turn.

Rice with Qaddafi in 2008

Why does this matter? Because even though Libya disarmed their nuclear weapons program, paid reparations to the families of victims, and cooperated with the United States on anti-terrorism measures; the regime still violently oppressed their people. If you are not familiar with the human rights violations in Libya you can read Amnesty International’s Report. If anything, you could argue that the Bush administration’s friendship and support of Libya only strengthened the dictators power in oppressing his people. The Bush Administration’s policy on the Middle East was along the lines of the following:

” For too long, many nations, including my own, tolerated, even excused, oppression in the Middle East in the name of stability. Oppression became common, but stability never arrived. We must take a different approach. We must help the reformers of the Middle East as they work for freedom, and strive to build a community of peaceful, democratic nations.” – George Bush in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly; September 21, 2004

George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and his cabinet members never condemned the actions of Qaddafi. Never put pressure on his regime to end the oppression of the Libyan people. Rather, the Bush administration propped up the Libyan dictator, or tolerated him, as an excuse in the name of stability. According to the actions of the administration our presence in Libya and the Middle East, and our cooperation with a dictator, was not to free the Libyan people or to promote democracy; but rather to secure our strategic interests and guarantee the supply of petroleum.

David Welch (assistant to the Secretary of State from 2005-2008) met with Qaddafi on August 2, 2011 to recommend Qaddafi and his regime on how to stay in power.

Al Jazeera obtains secret Qaddafi files

The Obama Administration

I explained the Bush administration’s history with Qaddafi in detail, but I will be brief with Obama’s history because it is a current event. In summary, the Obama administration backed the Libyan rebels and supported NATO. The success of Qaddafi’s ouster/assassination is being widely attributed to his administration, and more specifically to Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton with Libyan Rebels

Hillary Clinton traveled the world negotiating with various leaders, the U.N. Security Council, Libyan rebels, Arab states, and more. She convinced President Obama and other Arab nations to grant the rebels full diplomatic recognition which gave them access to billions of dollars in frozen funds. She was instrumental in forming and maintaining the coalition that was responsible for Qaddafi’s ouster and coordinating the NATO strikes. Not only was Clinton and the administration successful at carrying out their goal, but they did so efficiently. The operation was inexpensive, required no U.S. military presence in Libya, was supported internally and externally, and happened within a relatively short time frame. The ouster of Qaddafi is being touted as one of the biggest achievements of Obama’s foreign policy.

But, according to Executive Order 11905; state-sponsored assassination is illegal.

“No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”

Something you would assume the Obama administration would know quite well (see Osama bin Laden and Anwar Al-Awlaki).

Conclusion

So whose hands are dirty? The Bush administration or the Obama administration? One administration propped up a dictator (leading to intensified oppression of the Libyan people) to guarantee our strategic interests in the Middle East and our access to foreign oil. The other administration took down a dictator (leading to the freedom of the Libyan people) violating U.S. law and possibly putting the United States and our allies at a security threat (Libya now has a vacuum).

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One Comment on “Dinner With Qaddafi”

  1. Brian Hall Says:

    I found your post to be quite informative and relevant, as I didn’t really know anything about Bush’s policy towards Libya previously.

    That said, Executive Order 11905 is a joke. The CIA routinely supports and destroys regimes. Maybe they don’t directly assassinate leaders, but they certainly employ proxies to get the job done. Personally I’m apathetic towards the situation, as neither Bush nor Obama is really in the right or wrong here. Meddling in other countries’ affairs seems to be a no win scenario, as you end up causing serious collateral damage no matter what direction things take.

    I’m very curious as to how the Libyan situation will turn out, but I’m not particularly optimistic. I just hope we don’t have to start another endless war to try to “give them democracy”.

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