Gaddafi didn’t only cooperate because the Iraq war scared him

Christopher Hitchens, March 28, 2011:

As for the Iraq effect on Libya: Here is what I was told in confidence by the British diplomat… very important in the timing [of Gaddafi’s and the West’s rapprochement], was Qaddafi’s abject fear at watching the fate of Saddam Hussein.

BBC News, September 4th, 2011:

US and UK spy agencies built close ties with their Libyan counterparts during the so-called War on Terror, according to documents discovered at the office of Col Gaddafi’s former spy chief. The papers suggest the CIA abducted several suspected militants from 2002 to 2004 and handed them to Tripoli. The UK’s MI6 also apparently gave the Gaddafi regime details of dissidents.

It seems the Iraq war may have taught Gaddafi that he was not safe, but he learned something else too: that western states can be utterly ruthless in the pursuit of their own interests.

Sometimes that ruthlessness has been used to topple dictators and sometimes it has been used to deliver militants to dictators for torture. Gaddafi didn’t learn that he should stop being a bastard, merely that he had better be our bastard.

Okay, our standards for Gaddafi’s conduct were higher than his own. We let him do a bit of torture, but drew the line at him shelling his own people. So progress on one front, I suppose, though not the story you often hear told of the early days of the war on terror. [1]

“Oh, we helped him torture people, of course, but we drew the line when he started shelling his own people. Manoeuvring ourselves into a negotiating position that powerful – a position where Gaddafi would allow us to help him torture people – required enormous effort. We had to spend a few trillion dollars and murder 100,000s of Arabs, but then we were going to do that any way (the fool!).”


[1] Non-capitalised as a mark of disrespect. Feel my grammatical disdain.