Sunday, December 21, 2003

One shouldn't be churlish in commending the Foreign Office or our intelligence services for achieving a foreign policy objective, namely, the reeling in of Libya to the civilised world. After all, the deployment of chemical or biological weapons on missiles that could reach our shores was a threat, due to our current alliance with the United States. One less threat to Great Britain is a preferable state of affairs.

Nevertheless, there were other countries whose national interest coincided with or even outweighed ours in the disarming of Libya. France, whose own citizens were victims of Libyan state sponsored terrorism, appears to have played no part in these negotiations. Dominique de Villepin's call for compensation for these victims demonstrates that the entire process must prove frustrating for France since their soul-searching analysis raises questions about why their own approaches to Libya have proved so fruitless.

In terms of diplomacy, the actions of Qadhafi tend to place political success upon those states who defend their interests in the Middle East through force of arms. Those who champion a separate European defence policy or privilege soft power over force have been wrongfooted. Those within the EU who would pretend to challenge the United States find that the occupation of Iraq has resulted, by the end of 2003, with increased American hegemony across the entire Arab world and the overt dismantling of their nuclear capacity. The dangers are contained in the Arabian Peninsular and points east.

Libya will open itself to inspections from the United Kingdom and United States, perhaps under the auspices of the United Nations. This is a far greater move towards disarmament than the pallid acceptance of inspections that Iran signed.

Bilateral negotiations between nation states, often involving the threat of force, gains results. Negotiations using international treaties and institutions on issues of defence or security achieve more limited objectives, often using bribery. Long live realist foreign policy.

(11.07, 21st December 2003)


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