The Washington Times
Next steps in Libya
By Kenneth R. Timmerman
Published March 17, 2004
¬?¬?¬?¬?TRIPOLI, Libya. -- On Saturday, March6, the United States and Britain scored a bloodless victory in Libya,when Libyan authorities allowed 500 tons of equipment from theirpreviously secret nuclear weapons program to be loaded onto a U.S.ship in Tripoli harbor and sent to America.
¬?¬?¬?¬?By all accounts, Libya's cooperationwith the United States and Britain has been faultless. Officials Iinterviewed in Tripoli who had taken part in the exchanges had onlypraise for Libya's openness. The secret plants where Libya had oncebeen enriching uranium now stand empty, and the equipment has beendestroyed or taken out of the country.
¬?¬?¬?¬?On Sunday, the U.S. and Britain begantalks with the Libyan authorities on how we can help to retrainLibyan weapons scientists to fulfill more useful functions for theirsociety.
¬?¬?¬?¬?So far, the Libyans have fulfilled alltheir obligations. They have acknowledged responsibility for theactions of their officials in the Pan Am 103 and UTA 772 terroristbombings, and paid compensation to the families of the victims. Theyhave completely dismantled their programs for weapons of massdestruction (WMD) and invited the U.S., Britain, the InternationalAtomic Energy Agency and the Organization for the Prohibition ofChemical Weapons to verify nothing remains.
¬?¬?¬?¬?Now it's time to plot the next stepsof the U.S.-Libyan relationship. Just as the Libyan government movedquickly once Col. Moammar Gadhafi decided to disarm on Dec. 19, sothe United States should move quickly to extend a hand of friendshipand cooperation to the Libyan people.
¬?¬?¬?¬?Already, the Department of Health andHuman Services has sent a team of health-care professionals to Libyato assess how the U.S. can help the Libyans to improve their nationalhealth care system. After decades of socialism, which promised freehealth care to everyone, ordinary Libyans drive to neighboringTunisia when they need advanced medical care, because Libyanhospitals and doctors are notoriously substandard.
¬?¬?¬?¬?Col. Gadhafi wants U.S. oil and gascompanies to return to Libya, and so they should. But Libya alsoneeds help revising foreign investment laws, and creating a legalsystem that protects not just the rights of foreigners who seek tocontribute to Libya's economy, but of ordinary Libyans who want tolead normal lives.
¬?¬?¬?¬?At present, the United States has sixdiplomats stationed in Tripoli, led by the State Department'sdirector of the Office of Egypt and North Africa, Greg Berry. WhileMr. Berry and his small team are career diplomats and fullyunderstand the historic opportunities now present in Libya, theUnited States needs a high-powered presence in Tripoli that sends amessage to Col. Gadhafi that America accepts the new partnership hehas offered and will stand side by side with the Libyan people asthey seek to break the shackles of 35 years of self-imposedisolation.
¬?¬?¬?¬?The British government made anexcellent decision 16 months ago when it chose Anthony Layden, afree-market economist with a strong private-sector background, as itsambassador to Tripoli. Mr. Layden spent two years advising the kingof Morocco on how to make free market reforms in his country, andunderstands that transforming the economy is essential to bringingfreedom to Libya's people.
¬?¬?¬?¬?America needs an ambassador in Tripoliof similar stature. Ideally, such a candidate will be close toPresident Bush, have extensive private sector experience, while alsounderstanding the importance of fundamental freedoms as theunderpinnings of a free society -- freedoms sorely lacking in today'sLibya.
¬?¬?¬?¬?The United States can and shouldbecome a partner with Libya, but not a partner of the corrupt systemthat has brought ruin to Libya over the last 35 years.
¬?¬?¬?¬?Col. Gadhafi has shown great visionand realism over the last two years, as he has gradually sought tomove his country from pariah status and back into the community ofnations. He needs to be encouraged to continue on this path throughthe benefits of trade with America, and the watchful eye of U.S.diplomats who will monitor human rights violations.
¬?¬?¬?¬?Now is the time for bold moves byAmerica to cement this new relationship, which many in Libya believecan become a thriving economic engine for the development of NorthAfrica and the southern half of the Mediterranean basin.
¬?¬?¬?¬?It is time to lift economic sanctionson trade with Libya, and to allow Libyan students to return toAmerica. It is time to appoint a high-level ambassador with thepersonal panache and connections to show the Libyans that America iscommitted to making this relationship a success.
¬?¬?¬?¬?Col. Gadhafi has crossed his Rubicon.There is no going back to the old ways of terror and murderousweapons of mass destruction. The United States should now welcome himand help Libya become an ordinary nation, whose people can enjoy thefruits of freedoms we consider so ordinary here in America.
¬?¬?¬?¬?Kenneth R. Timmerman is a seniorwriter for Insight magazine, and author of "The French Betrayal ofAmerica," forthcoming from Crown Forum.
Copyright © 2004 News World Communications, Inc. All rightsreserved.
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