What Lessons Can Be Learned From the U.S.-Libyan Relationship?

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
September 5, 2008
Tripoli's Green Square

Secretary Rice made an historic visit to Libya. She is the only U.S. Cabinet-level official to have met with Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi since he took power in 1969. This meeting represents a diplomatic turnaround that has been decades in the making.

What lessons can be learned from the U.S.-Libyan relationship?



Kentucky, USA
September 6, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

"What lessons can be learned from the U.S.-Libyan relationship?"

It's good to stay friends with those who have oil?

Or perhaps it could be said that even states that share very little ideological commonality can have a good working relationship. Considering that Libya is a military dictatorship and the Freedom House score for Libya's Civil Freedoms and Political Rights, on a scale of 1 to 7 (with 7 being the lowest), both are, surprise, a 7, shows that we have very little in common. But that doesn't mean that we can't still sell them arms and buy their oil, right?

Or maybe the lesson is that even some one you have tried to kill and overthrow may end up your ally when the economic and political winds shift.

Libya's recent history provides several examples both for and against the effectiveness of sanctions.

In the relationship between two states, a third party organization like the UN is a valuable tool in resolving conflicts.

Another lesson could be that when you see a state who has anything to offer at all making better friends with your allies, you'd better push them out of the way, elbow your way to the front of the line and get your handshake out. France seems to be getting a lot of international business these days...

It could be reasoned that when you find a fox snooping around your new chicken coop, it's probably better to lead him to your kitchen. Colonel Qadhafi is a wise, cunning, and dangerous person, struck with the common dichotomy of most able leaders, that of possessing a defined sense of morality but an equal propensity for discarding it. At once a humanitarian and terrorist, Machiavelli would be proud. He is too dangerous to leave alone. No longer powerful enough to pose a serious threat but crafty enough to undermine our interests in the region. Best to open relations and help him focus on securing greater freedom for his people.

Studying the US-Libyan relationship doesn't leave me with as many lessons as it does more questions. By renewing our ties and accepting Libya, does the US also support pan-Arabism? What about a federalized Africa? Though Qadhafi, and thus, Libya, has sniffed out the shift of power and has begun to accommodate Western demands, (as they say, know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em) can he truly be our eventual ally? Or is this new posturing a result of political expediency to deflect any unwanted scrutiny or surprise US invasions? Considering that in some respects, we are now the "Mad Dog in the Middle East" perhaps he is only placating our hyper-sensitivity to save his own skin? I suspect that the intervention and advice of those like Mandela and Kofi-Anna convinced him of the wisdom in making concessions to the West. Hopefully he will also see the wisdom in reforming some of the more oppressive aspects of his country's rule.

Are we going to re-establish our military base there? Judging by our shift of strategic interests, I will guess that this will be future proposal on our part.

If Russia remains on their path of ascendancy and regains their lost influence, how will this affect Libya's stance?

Libya once supported Iran, what is their relationship now? Can we expect Libya to help influence Iran, or will they work against us?

Qadhafi won't liver forever, what will happen to Libya once he passes?

And finally, what can the US and Libya do for each other to make the lives of our citizens happier, healthier, and free?

New Mexico, USA
September 6, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Well, that Diplomacy works, for one.

The real question is what lessons will this impart to nations like Syria, Iran, and North Korea?

Syrian P.
September 6, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

People who strive to bring genuine freedom and Democracy to their nation and country should see this as solid convincing evidence not to trust the West in general and the U.S. in particular when they blabber these claims, initiating wars and committing genocide in intended purposes of bringing Freedom and Democracy. The lesson learned here is you will better off partnering with the devil than the deceivers.

Unfortunately, those that genuinely strive to advance human rights in their nation have no allies in the world, not the Churches, not the Sheiks and for sure not the West. Only truly Nationalist Organizations that are lead by motivated, self sacrificing leaders are the means and the way to better you Nations.

United States
September 8, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

The lesson learned is that ending terrorism, requires more friends, not enemies. We learned this in Iraq as well as Libya. The US government needs all the friends we can get, as long as they are acquired legally, which means, without bribes, without supplying them with WMD, without promises we refuse to keep, and without permitting them to buy our elected officials.

Friendship and trade with China provided China with more freedom today. We could have done the same with Russia, Syria, and many other nations as well. In some cases, it is our attitude towards them, not their attitude towards us, that is the problem.

September 9, 2008

Ahmed writes:

Well what we can learn is that US foreign policy contradicts itself and reeks of hypocrisy. The US start to sew relationships with Libya after the dictator became obedient. So we can learn from it that in the eyes of the US it doesn't matter whether you're a dictator or democrat as long as you are obedient. If the US went into Iraq to bring freedom to the Iraqi people. Then Gaddafi is one the worst human rights abusers yet a full relationship reconciliation is in process with the US. Furthermore, by restabilising with a rehabilitated dictator, and strengthening Gaddafis position through oil contracts, the US is preventing democratic change in the middle east. And this is where tortured, poor, uneducated Libyans who have no freedom of speech to let off steam, turn to terrorist groups.

In the eyes of the people of the Middle East, The lesson learned is that US foreign policy is destructive.

Colorado, USA
September 10, 2008

James in Colorado writes:

America does not have friends or enemies, only interests.

United States
September 10, 2008

Tim in U.S.A. writes:

Bush has done wonders in creating stability in the Americas through free trade. My hope is that the next president will finish his work on this side of the ocean and then begin to work on Africa. Africa is rich in resources and needs good governments. Free trade can make this a reality. China and Russia are ahead of us on the African front.

Europe, America and our free trade partners, and Australia/Japan/South Korea are very united in our globalized world. India and Africa need to be brought in line through trade. By uniting the old English empire with the Americas, Africa, and India, Democracy is bound to dominate world politics for many years, as well as protect against China and a reassertive Russia.

So. . . great job on Lybia! I hope you will pour even more effort into Africa. Perhaps after this dictator is gone Democracy will unfold.

Tennessee, USA
September 10, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

QUOTE: Free trade can make this a reality. China and Russia are ahead of us on the African front. END QUOTE


CHINA AND RUSSIA ARE AHEAD OF US IN EVERY WAY BECAUSE WE GAVE THEM OUR WORK....out intelligence networks, our technology....what i fair about it all?

This part is not the fault of the concept of fair trade or our President at all; but, interdependency on a commercial basis should not rock the foundation of the American Economic system.

We are still the worlds best hope for Democracy; but, only if All Americans share in the wealth, not lose it. How does that show by example?

Africa is now starting to Nationalize. It does not matter who provides them with the funds as they will become their own masters. A poor man does not care who provides the meal he is eating until he can acquire it on his own and have a choice of who feeds

September 10, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ James in Colorado

I disagree with you Colorado. According to me, America has a vision based on fresh, democratic and humanitarian ideas that can lead to the new millennium era. However, let's suppose you're right. How do you personally choose or select your friends James? Based on what philosophy?

I personally choose my friends according to my "interests". Do you choose yours, according to THEIR INTERESTS that are AGAINST YOURS? Ex.: In some cases "common interests" mean that all of us like cinema. In other cases that we all love theatre. If the guys that they used to love theatre become cinema maniacs, I would not have any problem at all to see them sitting near me in the... cinema theatre.

We all love Freedom of choice and progress! Don't we?

You know better than me that the meaning of the word "interest" is an extremely "rich" one.

To me, there are no words, but only concepts and ideas that rich words can generate. So, "Interests" sounds like a "a group of people having a common concern".

What's the problem then?


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