- The Washington Times - Monday, December 22, 2003

Gadhafi’s good news

We weren’t talking to Iraq when we gave our reasons for invasion as pre-empting its use of unconventional weapons and severing its ties with al Qaeda. We were talking to rogue nations such as North Korea, Iran and Libya. We were telling rogue nations this will happen to you if you don’t open your country to surprise inspections and end your cooperation with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, such as Ansar al-Islam and Hezbollah.

We were saying, figuratively, “Rogue nation, tear down this wall.” Libya heard us. (“Libya to allow spot inspections by U.N. agency,” Nation, Saturday).

This deadly feint was a warning to all rogue nations: We negotiate like grown-ups; we play hardball. Our starting posture is the stick rather than the carrot and does not distinguish between friends and enemies, just between acceptableandunacceptable behavior. We show no fear; we know we are the world’s superpower, and we’re going to signal the costs or benefits of defying us or joining us.

For example, we told our allies that if they didn’t join us in our rout of Iraq, they can’t join us in its lucrative reconstruction. Of course, that worked. Look at the capitulations of France and Germany in debt forgiveness to Iraq.

Weareunequivocally demonstrating — we are showing rather than telling — what our interests and their interests are. To build bridges, we must tear down walls. And, yes, we’re talking to you, rogue nations.

ONA BUNCE

Falls Church

The world seems to be changing fast. Saddam Hussein is gone and will be remembered only as a footnote in history. Now Moammar Gadhafi of Libya is changing — but who knows for how long?

It was encouraging when I heard that fire-breathing Col. Gadhafi had decided to abandon his country’s program for developing weapons of mass destruction. Is Col. Gadhafi afraid because of the recent developments in Iraq? I doubt it. Col. Gadhafi is a man who for a long time preferred war instead of peace. Remember him?

Remember the late ‘80s and ‘90s? He spit fire and destruction on America and the Western world. He was responsible for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The Libyan leader was a nightmare to many American presidents.

His actions and behavior put him in a position where it was very difficult to trust him wholeheartedly. He was slippery, cunning and dishonest — and still is. Col. Gadhafi’s gesture for peace may have come because of economic problems in Libya, which for some time has been experiencing a lot of economic quagmires.

His government has been plagued constantly with his ever-present urge to oppose the West on different issues. He also tried to build up his image by portraying himself as an African and Arab nationalist. However, he constantly has contradicted himself by causing a lot of instability and havoc in the African region and even in the Arab world. Remember the war with Chad over the Aouzou Strip (from which Libya finally withdrew in 1994)? Remember his never-ceasing support for different types of rebellion and insurgency from the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa to Cairo in northern Africa? He was an avid supporter and mentor to former dictator Idi Amin of Uganda and subsequently gave Amin temporary refuge after Amin completed his butchery of the Ugandan people and was deposed from power. Charles Taylor of Liberia, Foday Sanko of Sierra Leone and Gen. Omar Hassan El- Bashir of Sudan, etc. — the list is extensive. These people got training and financial support from Col. Gadhafi before they embarked on raining havoc on their countries.

It seems that Col. Gadhafi has seen that the type of world in which he lived yesterday has changed and if he doesn’t change carefully for today, he will fizzle out gradually and become extinct like a dinosaur.

For some time now, he has been negotiating secretly with the West for the lifting of sanctions on his country — sanctions that were put into place because of the Pan Am airline bombing and also the downing of a French airliner in 1989 over Niger.

Reports have it that he has paid about $ 2.7 billion to families of the Lockerbie bombing.

These gestures are commendable. I urge the international community, particularly the United States government, to review its policies toward Libya. Libya’s gestures should be appreciated and reciprocated. It is time to remove Libya from America’s list of evil empires. As a saying has it, one good turn deserves another.

KENNEDY KELECHI HALAMS

Houston, Texas

The way you phrase it

In his Friday letter “The dangers of push polls,” James R. Cox from Earthjustice objected to a polling question used by Gary J. Andres and Michael McKenna (“Judging the bench,” Op-Ed, Dec. 15) that showed a large increase from April to November in the number of people of the opinion that Senate Democrats are obstructing President Bush’s judicial nominees.

I hope Mr. Andres and Mr. McKenna will do another poll on the subject of the Democrats’ obstructionism of orthodox Catholic judicial nominees. Here is a question they might use: “Given that the Democratic National Committee continues to demonstrate its support for anti-Catholicism by linking to an anti-Catholic group (Catholics for Free Choice) whose goal is to destroy the Catholic Church, and that Senate Democrats are blocking votes on orthodox Catholic nominees despite a constitutional prohibition on a religious test for federal office, do you think Senate Democrats are acting in the spirit of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion for everyone, or practicing anti-Catholicism?”

JOHN NAUGHTON

Silver Spring

Progress in Pennsylvania?

Friday’s story “GOP holds line against Rendell” (Nation) would have been accurate in March, but isn’t today. In December 2003, Pennsylvania Republicans, who control both the House and Senate by wide margins, have capitulated. In all likelihood, the Republican Party will enable Gov. Edward G. Rendell to make Pennsylvania the only state in the nation to increase taxes and create new spending programs in 2003. The handful of GOP leaders will do so by ignoring the overwhelming majority of the party caucus’ rank-and-file members and joining with the minority-party Democrats to pass a massive new tax and spending package.

Of course, the GOP bosses will declare the 10 percent personal income tax increase a “victory” because Mr. Rendell wanted a 34 percent bump. The reality is that the Republicans didn’t have to let the Grinch steal any of ourfamilies’Christmas presents. They could have stopped him. In poll after poll, the people of this commonwealth consistently said “reduce government spending” and “don’t raise our taxes.”

Pennsylvania was in this same predicament in 1991: a budget deficit with negotiations dragging past the fiscal-year deadline, coming out of a national recession and a Democratic governor who wanted new spending programs. The result? A massive tax increase, new government spending programs … and a destroyed economy that we have been paying for ever since. During the 1990s, Pennsylvania was near the bottom of every key economic performance indicator. The Republicans once again are going to be responsible for making sure we stay there in the 21st century.

MATTHEW J. BROUILLETTE

President and chief executive

Commonwealth Foundation

Harrisburg, Pa.


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