It’s wonderful news that Libya has decided to get rid of its stocks of antique chemical weapons and its “nuclear weapons program,” but I’m highly skeptical of the suggestions that this is the direct result of our invasion and occupation of Iraq. Much has written about this elsewhere, so I’ll keep it short. First of all, Khaddafi is no idiot. He knows that the US military has been badly overextended by the invasion of Iraq, and that he’s certainly not next on the list of countries Dick Cheney would like to invade. Realistically, Libya wouldn’t make it into the queue anytime soon, and he could weasel out at his convenience before then. Secondly, Khaddafi has been seeking rapproachement with the West for years, and as a secular Arab nationalist, has his own serious problems with Islamists. He’d like nothing better than to see al-Qaeda taken down, just to relieve himself of one of his own headaches. Khaddafi in recent times has even done his best to distance himself from Arabs, period. According to his own statements, he’s all about Africa these days. The timing of this is convenient for those looking for new justifications for our extended stay in Iraq (since the old ones haven’t quite worked out), but the Iraq-Libya connection doesn’t hold up under significant analysis.
Actually, there is one way where this does make sense. Libya has been looking for a deal to get out of the dog house for a long time — that’s why they coughed up the money to pay off the families of the people killed in the Lockerbie bombing. The US has been reluctant to let Khadaffi off the hook. These days, the administration really needs some foreign policy wins, especially some that make Operation Iraqi Freedom look like the right thing at the right time. At this time, Khadaffi and Bush both have something that the other needs, ergo, a deal.