Opinion Brief

Did Bush prevent 'atomic holocaust' in Libya?

George W. Bush's former national security adviser insists that the ex-president saved Libya from further catastrophe by taking dangerous weapons out of Gadhafi's hands

The Bush administration's decision to normalize relations with Libya, in return for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi giving up his nuclear and chemical weapons programs, was a "very difficult" one, says former Bush National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. But in the end, it was "a good deal" for the U.S., the global community, and, especially now, the Libyan people. "Think about if this megalomaniac now had chemical weapons in his possession," or worse. Should Libyans thank Bush?

Bush pre-empted a bloodbath: The "dire and combustible situation in Libya" might well have been a "catastrophic atomic holocaust" had "Bush been unwilling to resort to 'cowboy diplomacy,'" says Christopher Adamo in the Hawaii Reporter. Gadhafi only gave up his nukes because the Iraq War showed him just how determined Bush was to "take the war on terror to the enemy's doorstep." In a fair world, there would be "loud and ceaseless celebration" of Bush's fortitude."The Libyan nightmare that almost was"

Praising Bush for Libya is "patronizing": The Bush-centric argument that "Gadhafi was sufficiently frightened" by the Iraq War to give up his arsenal has merit... but it's also "patronizing," says Adam Serwer in The Washington Post. And it hardly justifies the "disastrous invasion of Iraq," or Bush's support for "despotic client states" like Libya. Besides, what's exciting about the valiant uprising against Gadhafi is that it happened without U.S. military force."Krauthammer and the 'Bush freedom agenda' fallacy"

The U.S. has been part of the problem, not the solution: Instead of patting ourselves on the back for saving Libyans from disaster, we should be engaged in serious "self-criticism," says Roger Cohen in The New York Times. U.S. and Western leaders gave "cynical encouragement" to Gadhafi, and let him enrich himself at the expense of his people. Our "moral bankruptcy" in the Mideast is among the things Arabs are revolting against — so let's hold off on congratulating ourselves."Libyan closure"

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