Jewish World Review Dec. 30, 2003 / 6 Teves, 5764

Robert Stewart

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Bush Doctrine, often derided, is paying dividends in peace | In 1951, Libya celebrated its independence from Italian rule. Half a century later, with its decision to abandon weapons of mass destruction, the nation is poised to gain a new kind of independence — freedom from its status as an international pariah.

First planted under combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, the seeds of the Bush Doctrine are now reaped in peace. Col. Moammar Gadhafi's decision to end his nation's WMD program and allow inspections — beginning with Sunday's visit by U.N. weapons inspectors — has the unique distinction of being the first victory in the post-9/11 era to be won without a single shot being fired. It is also the first to result from the example set in Kabul and Baghdad; it is not likely to be the last.

In a different world and different era, President Eisenhower and his contemporaries worried about countries vulnerable to communist advances, what Eisenhower originally termed "a falling domino principle." But the current administration has faced a different, though no less daunting task: To roll back the existing cancer of terrorism and despotic regimes in the Middle East and northern Africa. It is a charge that — though far from complete — is succeeding. Though painfully slow, each new victory spreads freedom and security throughout the region.

Many derided the with-us-or-with-the-terrorists axiom announced in the frightening days following the attacks of 9/11, but this black-and-white vision of international relations is achieving burgeoning success around the globe. Though much remains to be done, ever-cautious Saudi Arabia is blunting the growth of indigenous terror through direct military and law enforcement action. In Yemen, the government cooperates — though on a far too limited scope — with U.S. investigators and anti-terror forces to hunt and kill al Qaeda. And Iran's leadership signed a protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in December, allowing surprise inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Though the Islamic Republic is far from ending its WMD programs, such steps are indeed positive.

And on a much larger scale, the swift victory against the Taliban in Afghanistan and decisive action against the Hussein regime left no doubt as to the credibility of the Bush Doctrine and the administration's willingness to use force when necessary.

It was no coincidence then, that when tanks circled Baghdad Libya's leader had his own St. Paul on the road to Damascus moment and asked for sudden consultation with the U.S. and Britain. At long last, the Libyan leader opted to untether his nation from stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

By doing so, he hopes to end the ostracism created by such an arsenal in such unstable hands.

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It is far too soon to know if Libya will continue on the path toward disarmament and cooperation — Gadhafi has attempted diplomatic bait-and-switch before — but it is encouraging indeed to see the examples set in Baghdad and Kabul spread to another capital and another dangerous despot. And though there is cause for optimism in the Libyan leader's decision on weapons, the people of Libya are waiting for a similar declaration on human rights. For the victory to be complete, Libya must also make electoral, religious, civil and judicial reforms.

When President Bush announced the Libyan decision on December 19, he said that recent actions by the United States and its allies send "an unmistakable message" to regimes that seek or possess weapons of mass destruction: Such weapons bring only "isolation and otherwise unwelcome consequences." But he also held open the door for other nations to follow Libya's lead in the hope of "rejoining the community of nations."

Libya's new independence did not come as a result of a U.N. treaty — as it did a half century ago — or through policies of containment and reliance on diplomacy alone. Rather, it was a result of coalition military intervention in similarly situated nations in Libya's own backyard and the muscular diplomacy of the Bush Doctrine. The choice for other nations who are "with the terrorists" is clear and the number of examples to follow is steadily growing.

JWR contributor Robert Stewart, a former Army intelligence analyst, is now a writer based in Washington, D.C. Comment by clicking here.


11/24/03: Isolationism does not breed immunity
11/10/03: President Bush, like Eisenhower before him, is signaling the beginning of a new epoch
10/21/03: Is this war being won? You bet, just don't ask the congressman with the embarrassingly bad timing

© 2003, Robert Stewart