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34th Year of Publication

   FEBRUARY 2004 -  Issue #164    


The Libya Problem is Not Yet Solved

Herbert Zweibon

Does Moammar Qadaffi's Libya deserve a "secure and respected place aong the nations," as President Bush has proclaimed? Is Qadaffi "a courageous statesman," as British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has asserted?

Smarting from the impact of international sanctions and worried that the U.S. might use force against him as it did against Saddam Hussein, Qadaffi has agreed to halt his efforts to develop nuclear and chemical weapons. Whatever the condition of that Libyan weapons program -- and there is evidence that it was not very advanced -- that should hardly suffice to bring about a Western embrace of Qadaffi.

There is, first of all, the question of justice. Qadaffi was directly responsible for numerous international terrorist attacks, including the downing of Pan Am flight 103, murdering 270 passengers. By welcoming Qadaffi to the civilized world, President Bush is "absolving the murderer of our daughter," writes Susan Cohen, mother of one of the victims. The families of the 269 other victims could say the same thing. Yet Qadaffi will be given a clean bill of health at no cost. Such an outcome defies every principle of Western justice and in effect offers a kind of amnesty to every loathsome dictator on the planet.

Also troubling is the danger that the Libyan agreement could be used as a basis for demanding the disarming of Israel. The Egyptian government newspaper Al Ahram greeted the Libyan decision by declaring that "Israel's continued existence as the only nuclear country in the a genuine source of danger to the security of the Middle East." Official Syrian Radio called on Washington to "demand that Israel abandon its weapons programs, submit to inspections, and sign international arms treaties." And the newly-"moderate" Qadaffi said he hopes that "other countries will tighten the noose around the Israelis so that they will expose their programs and their weapons of mass destruction." Such demands are, of course, ludicrous. Israel is a small, vulnerable country surrounded by heavily-armed dictators sworn to destroy it and savage terrorist groups that murder its citizens almost daily. The pressure for Israel to disarm is part of a pincer movement to eliminate Israel's deterrence so as to leave her vulnerable to her many enemies.

Consider what Israel faces. Muslim Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. Iran either has nuclear arms or is close to being able to produce them. Syria, with help from North Korea, has installed chemical warheads on its Scud missiles. Hezbollah has -- according to Labor Knesset Member Efraim Sneh -- placed 12,000 missiles in southern Lebanon. And the Bush administration has just given Saudi Arabia permission to deploy F-15 fighter aircraft at Tabuk, just 150 kilometers from Israel. Under these circumstances, for Israel to surrender a powerful deterrent is simply madness.

A major criticism of America's relations with Iraq prior to the 1991 Gulf War was that the U.S. seemed to be more anxious to do business with Saddam than to face up to his role in international terrorism, his development of weapons of mass destruction, and his persecution of the Kurds and others. Yet here we go again -- the hunger for oil profits and other business deals, and the desire of Bush administration officials to claim victory, seem to be outweighing other considerations.

This is not the way to conduct foreign policy. Terrorists should not be able to buy their way into the good graces of the Free World. Principles, such as democracy and punishing terrorists, should guide America's -- and the West's -- future policy towards Libya.  

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.


The Post-Arafat Era   by Mark Silverberg ..3

Tegart's Wall: The First   "Security Fence" ...6

The Folly of Snubbing Israel   by Rand Fishbein ...7

February 2004               - 1 -               Outpost


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