Forgiveness not Forgetfulness

17 May 2006

US and Libya Re-Establish Diplomatic Relations

Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Khaddafy made a grand gesture in December 2003, offering to give up his nuclear weapons program in exchange for normalized relations with the West, after the CIA and MI6 busted up a big shipment of equipment. On Monday, Secretary of State NeoCon-doleeza Rice acknowledged that he has succeeded in getting a clean bill of international respectability from the Bush administration. Many families who lost loved ones due to his sponsorship of terrorism are livid, but to forgive is not to forget.

The Colonel was a bad guy, no two ways about it. His government funneled oil profits to various terrorist groups, from the militants in the PLO to the Provisional IRA to the Bader-Meinhof gang in West Germany. In particular, Libyan money and personnel were engaged in the1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub and the 1989 bombing of French UTA Flight 772 over Niger.

Now, he wants to be a member of the civilized world. As Dr. Rice said, the US is normalizing relations “in recognition of Libya’s continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism and the excellent co-operation Libya has provided to the United States and other members of the international community in response to common global threats faced by the civilized world since September 11, 2001.” The Colonel is now off the hook because he has decided to cooperate.

Many think he should still face trial, and one can view the point most sympathetically. Murder, air piracy and general mayhem deserve punishment. However, in a fight with the Mafia, the FBI often goes easy on one mobster to get cooperation against others. Colonel Khaddafy is uniquely placed to fight Al Qaeda and Fascislam. He is clearly not in the pocket of anyone, and so he can become a face of Arab pride to rival Usama bin Laden. To quote President Truman on Anastasio Somoza (though some credit it to FDR), he “may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.” Colonel Khaddafy can be useful to America in ways that make it tolerable to give him a pass on the charges against him.

That is not to say that the memories of the people who died needlessly because of him and his government’s actions should be swept under the rug – quite the opposite. The mercy shown to the Colonel merely proves that one must make peace with one’s enemies; it is unnecessary to make peace with friends. If letting him go unpunished is the price to be paid for truly fighting terrorism and Fascislam, one must grudgingly pay it. Mercy and redemption are the bases of civilized behavior. Civilization, from time to time, must actually employ them. And there are less-deserving cases.

© Copyright 2006 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Fedora Linux.


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