Libya vs. Iran

We’ve been discussing the Iran nuclear deal in the Seized Sailors thread but I wanted to put this particular point above the fold. Because I’m asking a serious question for the field:

What is the substantive difference between the WMD deal we made with Libya in 2004 and the WMD deal we just made with Iran?

As you may remember, in December 2003, Libya agreed to end their WMD program and destroy their stockpiles in exchange for lifting the sanctions. By September, most of their stockpile had been destroyed (although some remained and wasn’t destroyed until a decade later) and Bush signed orders doing away with all of the sanctions. Like the Iran deal, it was not a formal treaty.

Gaddafi was more of a traditional dictator and less of an Islamic fundamentalist. Their nuclear ambitions were more aspirational than real. But, like Iran, Libya was a state sponsor of terrorism. Like Iran, Libya had engaged in direct military conflict with the United States. Like Iran, Libya had a hideous record on human rights. Like Iran, Libya was dedicated to the destruction of Israel. And unlike Iran, Libyan citizens did not hold a vigil to honor the fallen of 9/11.

I don’t remember anyone screaming blue murder when we reached the deal with Libya. On the contrary, many credited Bush’s manly vigor in invading Iraq for having induced Libya to cooperate. And the deal with Iran has produced more compliance already than the deal with Libya did (although Libya never did get their WMD program going again).

So … why was the Libya deal good and the Iran deal is bad? What is the difference between the two? Is it just that you don’t trust Obama and Kerry to implement it (a not illegitimate concern)? Is it that Iran’s program is more advanced? Or did you oppose the Libya deal as well?

I’m not being snide here. I honestly want to know what the difference between those two deals is.

Comments are closed.

  1. WVRSpence

    We also didn’t do a whole lot when North Korea tested its first nuke (although it went more poof than boom.) Nobody on the right called for a restart of the Korean War. At any rate, Saudi Arabia and its allies may do our dirty work for us if Iran gets out of line. It should be noted that, as a result of the deal, a Washington Post reporter and a priest, I believe, have both been released. Others are still being held, but it’s a start.

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  2. AlexInCT

    What is the substantive difference between the WMD deal we made with Libya in 2004 and the WMD deal we just made with Iran?

    Ask Qaddafi?

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  3. louctiel


    I am going to take you are your word an believe that your question is not being “snide.”

    For me, you raise the critical point – trust.  The Libya deal was worked out with Congressional involvement.  The Iran deal was implemented without Congressional involvement.

    It also didn’t help that the Administration said there was no “secret side deals” which the AP exposed as being false.

    The initiator of the agreements were different as well.  While Libya approached the US and England to initiate talks,  it was the US that went to Iran with their hat in hand.

    On the technical side, the Libyan deal required inspection and sample collection first under US and England supervision which was then later turned over to the IAEA after Libya have shown trustworthiness.  In Iran, the US doesn’t get to inspect anything and has to trust the IAEA, the same group that negotiated the secret side deal with Iran in the first place.

    There are always going to be those who think that any president can do nothing right or does everything right.

    The Obama administration promised to be a “transparent” and honest.  Yet the administration, contrary to Obama’s promises, has fought more FOIA requests as a percentage than any administration.  Even the press has taken them to task for hiding documents and lying about it.

    I make no bones that I don’t like Obama as a person from what I have seen of him.  (Obviously he has not sat down with me and chatted over a Dr Pepper.)  I don’t think the man can lead.  Yet I still want the office of the President to be held in high regard and to be trusted.

    Trust is something that in my opinion, the Obama administration just doesn’t have.

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  4. InsipiD

    Lou carried this one, but I’ll add that there is a global difference in the level of mistrust for Iran vs Libya, too.  Iran has been waving a knife at the world for years, and gotten little notice.  Obama just invited them to the center of the world stage, and what an asshole.

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