Former Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) is on a "private" mission to Tripoli to meet with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and "persuade him to step aside," the Republican announced in a New York Times op-ed. Weldon forged close ties to the Gadhafi family after leading a congressional delegation to Libya in 2003. He argues in The Times that "face-to-face" diplomacy is the only way to get rid of Gadhafi, whom he's met "enough times to know that it will be very hard to simply bomb him into submission." Can Weldon's personal diplomacy fare any better?
This could be the breakthrough Libya needs: Weldon's trip "is big news," and it "raises hopes" that Libya's civil war will end with a "peaceful outcome," says Victor Lamp in War News Updates. In fact, it may not be a coincidence that since his arrival, "U.S. airstrikes in Libya have ceased, and NATO is now holding back." The next few days will be "critical," and if Weldon can negotiate a peace, "kudos to him."
"Curt Weldon's visit to Gadhafi raises hopes that the war will end"
Weldon is trying to save his reputation, not Libya: Weldon's op-ed didn't mention that his close ties to Gadhafi included trying to sell him weapons, says Noah Shachtman in Wired. As late as April 2008, Weldon and his then-employer, Defense Solutions, wanted to push nuclear cooperation, and refurbish Libya's tanks. Now that Gadhafi is a pariah again, it's no surprise that Weldon is "looking to do a little image repolishing for himself."
"Ex-congressman in Libya to 'help' once proposed arming Gadhafi"
And Libya has changed a lot since Weldon knew it: So far, Weldon says his proposals for a U.N.-mandated ceasefire and change in leadership have been "well-recieved and the climate seems 'optimistic,'" says Marcus Baram in The Huffington Post. But his "chances of success in Libya are difficult to ascertain." While he remains close to one of Gadhafi's sons, many of his contacts in Libya's government now actively support the rebels.
"Curt Weldon's close ties to Gaddafi led to Libya trip"