Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Libya, Military Force, and John Kerry

With all the talk about Libya re-entering the so-called family of nations, I decided to take a look back at the fateful day when Ronald Reagen bombed various targets within that nation after determining it was behind a terror attack that killed US servicemen back in 1986. Twenty years on, it seems as if "the more that things change...

....21-year-old Army Sergeant Kenneth Ford of Detroit was slain when a bomb blast ripped through Berlin's La Belle discotheque, a nightclub frequented by American servicemen.
The National Security Agency used high-tech eavesdropping equipment to intercept three secret messages between Tripoli and European-based Libyan agents. Libya's diplomatic code had been broken, and the messages made it clear that Gaddafi was behind the bombing of the Berlin disco

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher signed off on the use of British bases in the operation, but Spain and France refused to grant American warplanes overflight permission; this meant the planes would have to fly 2,800 miles to reach their targets, and be refueled five times in the air. Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi spoke for many European leaders when he expressed concern that any American retaliation would simply trigger more terrorist acts in reprisal. But the Reagan administration was determined to act. It felt that someone had to take a stand against worldwide terrorism that had run rampant in the Eighties. Gaddafi and others like him, said the president, had to be given "incentives . . . to alter [their] criminal behavior."

....For a time there was widespread concern that terrorist revenge attacks would occur on American soil, and experts warned that the U.S. was woefully unprepared to deal with such a contingency. The attacks never came.

...Gaddafi, described by Reagan as the "mad dog of the Middle East," was strangely subdued in the aftermath of the raid. According to Secretary Shultz, the administration's leading proponent of strong action against Libya, Gaddafi "retreated into the desert."...For whatever reason, Gaddafi acted with uncharacteristic restraint in the years that followed. According to a 1989 Department of State Bulletin, while terrorist activity continued on the rise in 1987 and 1988, Libyan-sponsored terrorist acts declined significantly.

Well, it would never have come to pass had a certain Senator John Kerry had been able to get his way back in '86 - does this doublespeak sound familiar?

"While I stated that my initial inclination was to support the President,” Kerry wrote in a letter, “I pointed out that two essential tests had to be met in determining whether or not the U.S. action was appropriate. First, the United States had to have irrefutable evidence directly linking the Gadhafi regime to a terrorist act and, second, our response should be proportional to that act.”

Admitting that the evidence tying Tripoli to the disco bombing was “irrefutable,” the U.S. had failed the proportionality test, Kerry argued:
“It is obvious that our response was not proportional to the disco bombing and even violated the Administration’s own guidelines to hit clearly defined terrorist targets, thereby minimizing the risk to innocent civilians. ...
There are numerous other actions we can take, in concert with our allies, to bring significant pressure to bear on countries supporting or harboring terrorists.”
Of course, history has shown Kerry to have been dead wrong...

...the more they stay the same".

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