Regime Change 2.0
There is more than one way to get a rogue state to change its ways.
“The Most Dangerous Man in the World?” shouted the cover of Newsweek. Iran’s radical president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2008? No, the man was Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi and the year was 1981. Twenty-two years later, in late 2003, the Libyan dictator surprised the world with the announcement that his country would terminate its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. The strategic turnabout ended years of secret negotiations with the United States and Britain that had focused initially on Libyan complicity in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 and subsequently on Libya’s proscribed WMD programs. The Bush administration claimed the disarmament coup (coming just eight months after the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime) as a dividend of the Iraq war and declared that Libya could now emerge from its United Nations–imposed diplomatic isolation. Libya was poised to rejoin what American presidents from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush have metaphorically called “the family of nations.” Does the Libyan precedent—“The Rogue Who Came in From the Cold,” as a headline in Foreign Affairs put it—hold lessons for dealing with other states that egregiously violate international norms of conduct?
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Robert S. Litwak is director of international security studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center. A former director for nonproliferation on the U.S. National Security Council staff, he is the author of Regime Change: U.S. Strategy Through the Prism of 9/11 (2007).more from this author >>