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Iraq's ripple effect

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted December 22, 2003

The Bush administration is on a roll! President Bush has struck all the right notes, without gloating or engaging in "triumphalism", despite the glorious week for the "war on terror" that vindicates Bush policies. First Saddam Hussein is captured, and now Libyan leader Moammar al-Ghadafi is eschewing his outlaw ways. But that's not all. Considerably more has transpired, as our successes continue to breed momentum.

In recent days, more al-Qaida operatives within Iraq have been arrested, terror cells in Baghdad have been taken down, and al-Qaida-linked drug ships (transporting contraband such as heroin, hashish, and methamphetamines for the purpose of financing terrorism) have been seized. Furthermore, Iraqis are now joining their nation's security services in record numbers and many are stepping forward with crucial intel, which is certainly attributable to Saddam's arrest.

And, as if all that terrific news weren't enough, France and Germany have agreed to forgive some Iraqi debt accrued by Saddam. Clearly, average Iraqis shouldn't be saddled with the bills of a terrible tyrant and his excesses. France and Germany's new stance is particularly significant, given that both nations have been staunch critics of the Iraq War and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Maybe it's finally dawning on France and Germany that the vast majority of Iraqis received bupkis from Saddam's regime, not even reliable water and electricity, and were subjected to ongoing abuses as well.

The aforesaid achievements are no small feat, and the Bush administration certainly deserves considerable kudos. That being said, the American public is pleased with the current status of the "war on terror" as demonstrated by the results of the latest Gallop survey -- Two-thirds of Americans now view the decision to go to war in Iraq favorably. And President Bush's job approval rating is in the same ballpark at 63 per cent.

President Bush is currently positioned head and shoulders above any potential Democratic rival in the 2004 race. If the presidential election were held today, Gallop has Bush running at 60 per cent in the polls, notably ahead of Democratic frontrunner Howard Dean at 37 per cent. The Bush juggernaut is making the Democrats apoplectic, especially those seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Howard Dean, for one, is coming across as an undisciplined campaigner at best, or an eccentric at worst, as he floats some strange conspiracy theory that President Bush had been tipped-off to the 9/11 attacks before hand. The Democrats have only spewed vitriolic, and sometimes bizarre, claptrap about President Bush, which thankfully isn't resonating. Here's the crux of the problem for the Democrats: They have failed to provide coherent and viable alternatives to Bush policies, which reflect in the polls. In politics, vituperation is insufficient – A positive vision and solid policies must also be articulated. Currently, that's not being accomplished by any candidate among the band of Democratic presidential wannabees.

To continue with the saga of Colonel Moammar al-Ghadafi, he was hard-pressed to maintain Libya's status quo once 9/11 occurred -- The Iraq War was in the works and the days of his brethren Saddam Hussein were undoubtedly numbered. The notorious Ghadafi, known for his own WMDs and sponsorship of terror, understood that some semblance of change was required for his survival, as he shrewdly sought diplomatic intervention that would ensure his continuity of rule. The Libyan despot embarked on a course of reform, including a settlement with the families of the ill-fated Pan Am Flight 103 blown out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 by Libyan operatives. Now Ghadafi has ostensibly acquired a newfound dedication to fighting terrorism and preventing proliferation of catastrophic weaponry. Ghadafi claims he'll forgo the pursuit of WMDs, including nuclear, chemical and long-range missile programs, and permit ongoing international weapons inspections in Libya for verification purposes. But has Ghadafi really changed his stripes? Or was he concerned that Libya would eventually be slated for the "war on terror" hit list?

The truth of the matter is that negotiations and rapprochement will only get you so far in today's perilous world, and despots such as Ghadafi primarily understand the language of force. Yes, Ghadafi has agreed to pivotal concessions and the rehabilitation of Libya, but only after seeing what transpired in Afghanistan and Iraq. Simply put, Ghadafi realized that turning over a new leaf was the only way to save his precious hide. Moreover, it's becoming increasingly evident that Bush policies are producing intended results, persuading outlaw regimes enmeshed in terrorism and WMDs to mend their ways or risk "regime change". And, of course, there are a host of other potential benefits awaiting Libya, since it will no longer be considered a pariah among nations – Libya, in theory, will have the opportunity to transform itself and pursue prosperity, devoid of the debilitating economic sanctions that will be lifted in due course. But my guess is that Ghadafi will move very, very slowly on any type of reforms, economic or otherwise.

However, first, Ghadafi must demonstrate his commitment to dismantling his WMDs programs and fighting international terrorism. Ghadafi's son says Libya wants "Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola", a metaphor for the modern life and a more prosperous lifestyle. And that's what President Bush and all like-minded individuals want for the world – prosperity and freedom, which will dissuade the Jihadist mentality and make the world a safer place. President Bush's has created the catalyst for change, a paradigm shift that could possibly revolutionize the Islamic world.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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