By William Blum
Code Orange, Code Orange!
January 08, 2004
Page one headlines in The Washington Post, Los Angles Times and New York Times of December 20 about Libya "vowing to give up its banned weapons!" ... Bush and Blair -- in a "choreographed sequence" as the Post called it -- hailing Qaddafi's seeing the light! What's that? You didn't know that Libya was stockpiling Weapons of Mass Destruction and was the newest Danger To The Civilized World? Think Iraq. That's what Bush and Blair have been thinking -- What can we do to regain our credibility as saviors, as the good guys? If only we could remove "another" imminent WMD threat. Perhaps it might come out sounding believable this time.
Moammar Qaddafi is tailor-made to be used for the purpose. The habitually gullible Libyan leader has been dying for years to become "respectable" and end the American sanctions against his country. Or as Bush put it: "Leaders who abandon the pursuit of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them will find an open path to better relations with the United States and other free nations. Libya has begun the process of rejoining the community of nations."
Qaddafi, Tony Blair chimed in, made a "courageous decision." The British Prime Minister declared that "Libya's actions entitle it to rejoin the international community." Will American and British voters be hearing about this "success" in their upcoming national elections ad nauseum in an attempt to spray over the awful odor of the Iraq misadventure? We did not have to wait long to find out. White House officials immediately said they "felt certain that the brewing military confrontation with Iraq influenced Qaddafi's decision to reach out". They "touted the Libyan move as vindication for the decision to go to war against Iraq ... because of the message it sent."
Bush described Libya's announcement "as resulting from careful US strategy and diplomacy, including the decision to invade Iraq in March". "I can't imagine that Iraq went unnoticed by the Libyan leadership," a senior US official added to the chorus.
And the LA Times opined that "Libya's announcement enables the Bush administration to claim a major foreign policy victory and deflect criticism that the war in Iraq had done little to decrease the broader threat of terrorism and proliferation of deadly weapons." So how close were we to yet another Arab-terrorist-madman unleashing his vast arsenal of doomsday weapons upon an innocent and unsuspecting world? Here's what the leading three American newspapers reported (emphasis added): "The Libyan foreign ministry issued a statement admitting that the country had SOUGHT to develop unconventional weapons."
US, UK, and UN "Experts met with [Libyan] scientists at research centers that COULD SUPPORT biological weapons research and also examined missile RESEARCH facilities." "They also revealed "DUAL-USE" chemicals that can be used for peaceful purposes OR FOR WEAPONS."
"British officials said that experts were given access to RESEARCH projects, including uranium enrichment that COULD BE USED for nuclear weapons. Finally, a US official said that "They found that the program was more advanced than had been previously confirmed ... and that Libya possessed all the equipment and expertise NEEDED TO PRODUCE weapons-grade uranium." A petrified world hangs on the official's every word with bated breath ... at last able to exhale when the official adds: "We did not see an enrichment facility. We saw the components that would make for an enrichment facility." He then adds that "the Libyans did not say they had produced any highly enriched uranium."
Washington spinmeisters may well try to make a mountain of uranium out of a molehill of sand, although other voices are already being heard. Ray Takeyh, a Libya expert at the Pentagon's National Defense University, declared that "Libya's program did not have a sophisticated enough infrastructure for a very viable program, and they haven't had it for years."
And Joseph Cirincione at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said that "it made little sense for Libya to embark on a slow and costly nuclear weapons program and wondered how much of the nuclear research was new or simply left over from earlier, now discarded programs."
Summing it all up, "One senior Bush administration official, in a recent interview, said Libya's bumbling attempts at mastering the science of advanced weapons earned it a reputation as the 'clown prince of weapons of mass destruction'."
Is Libya's abandonment of any kind of WMD program a good thing no matter how primitive a stage it might have been at? Yes, and it would be even much better if all nations abandoned such programs whether primitive or advanced. George W. declared: "Those weapons do not bring influence or prestige. They bring isolation and otherwise unwelcome consequences ... I hope that other leaders will find an example in Libya's announcement today."
This tired, sad old world can only wish that one of those leaders would be the president of the United States. In any event, we must remember that even if Iraq had a full complement of WMD they were not a threat to the United States in the absence of an irresistible desire for mass national suicide. The same of course applies to Libya.
Oh, almost forgot, something called "oil" may also be a factor. US oil companies have long been eager to return to Libya, but have been stopped by the sanctions. This whole scenario is the kind of thing political leaders employ to sell a change of policy to the public, so that in this case if the US ends the sanctions it won't be seen as "rewarding an evildoer", but done because the evildoer has mended his ways.
THE SPINELESS DEMOCRATS, AGAIN
After the capture of Saddam Hussein, Democratic Party presidential candidate Howard Dean stated that this "has not made America safer." He was immediately punished for his outbreak of honesty and perception, being lambasted by other candidates and the media. He and his team have apparently learned their lesson. Commenting about the Libyan announcement about abandoning WMD programs, Dean advisor Ashton Carter stated: "We should hope that our resolve over Iraq's WMD had something to do with convincing the Libyan leadership to take this course."
The White House couldn't have said it better. Democrats once again refuse to challenge the basic contradictions and disinformation underlying the administration's foreign policy proclamations. They're usually afraid that they'll appear "unpatriotic".
THE PANAM 103 MYTH, AGAIN
Some of the current stories about Libya predictably contain references to that country's role in the bombing of PanAm flight 103 in 1988. This belief is etched in marble and will probably remain that way forever. But the fact remains that there's no proof or any good evidence of Libya's role in that tragedy despite a Libyan man sitting in prison for the crime after being convicted by a court in The Hague. The reader is directed to my essay on the matter at: http://members.aol.com/
OH COME ALL YE (MARKETPLACE) FAITHFUL
On December 19, in announcing a major grant to the District of Columbia to help the homeless, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said the criteria for such grants "have been adjusted to promote the Bush administration's goal of ending chronic homelessness by focusing on permanent housing." This is certainly a noble aspiration, but do our noble leaders realize that it runs head-on into an even more cherished tenet of theirs?
Our salvation cometh from the market economy. The two main causes for homelessness in the United States are clearly low wages and high rents; many of the homeless actually have jobs but don't earn enough to meet the exorbitant cost of renting an apartment. But what can a government with such a fundamentalist ideology do about such a state of affairs when wages and rents are dictated by "the magic of the marketplace", the wise "hidden hand" of free enterprise?
William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World's Only Super Power, and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir. He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com This article was originally published in Counter Punch
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