THE BUSH Administration can point to only one undeniable non-proliferation "success" so far in its tenure: Libya's decision to renounce WMD in December 2003. But the administration that so adroitly pushed Libya to abandon unconventional weapons has been unable, or in some cases unwilling, to apply the key lessons of that success to its other nuclear challenges.
THE RECORD now clearly shows that Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, Libya's eccentric long-time ruler, did not rush into nuclear disarmament primarily because of America's invasion of Iraq. Qaddafi first signaled his willingness to discuss his unconventional-weapons programs soon after the Soviet Union's collapse, as early as 1992. But Washington, under Democrats and Republicans alike, refused to deal given his monstrous record on terrorism. The feelers to the Clinton Administration went nowhere because they preceded Qaddafi's surrender of two Libyan operatives suspected of blowing up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 259 (mostly American) passengers and crew had died. Ultimately, Qaddafi agreed to pay $2.7 billion to the families of Lockerbie victims-$10 million per victim-and millions more to compensate families of earlier victims of terrorist attacks. He also accepted responsibility for terrorist acts committed by two Libyan intelligence officers while continuing to deny his own perfectly obvious complicity in the crime. By then, however, the Clinton Administration had left office.
Isolated and largely ignored, Qaddafi grew alarmed by the incoming Bush Administration's new counter-proliferation agenda and the growing visibility of such militant Islamic groups at home as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.