Stockpiles of chemical weapons have been discovered in Libya, David Cameron has said, suggesting Colonel Gaddafi lied to Western governments when he promised to get rid of his weapons of mass destruction.
Gaddafi's pledge to surrender any chemical weapons in his possession was key to efforts in 2004 to normalise relations between Libya and the West.
Tony Blair played a key role in bringing Gaddafi in from the cold. But if the reports are true it suggests the-then prime minister was duped by the dictator.
Last night Cameron said Libya's new government had discovered previously unknown stocks of weapons.
"Although Gaddafi agreed to declare and dismantle all his weapons of mass destruction, in the last few days, we have learned that the new Libyan authorities have found chemical weapons that were kept hidden from the world," he said.
When Libya joined the chemical weapons convention in 2004 it had to declare all of its chemical weapons and agree to destroy them.
Just to be clear, we did not intervene in Libya because Gaddafi had weapons of mass destruction, or because of his ties to terrorism. These were at best historical factors that gave added urgency.
We (as in NATO, Arab League, UN) intervened to put a stop to an obvious and ongoing mass slaughter of a populist democratic uprising. Any weapons recovered or terrorists captured would just be fringe benefits to our own security.
But I can't help but admire the irony. On Obama's watch, we actually found and stopped an undercover WMD program, undeclared and in violation of international law.
Just not in Iraq, but in Libya, the country that the Republican party has declared 'not in our vital national security interests.'
Bush loved to cite Gaddafi supposedly giving up his WMDs as proof the Iraq War had sent a message to other dictators. In his 2004 State of the Union declaring:
Because of American leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the better. Last month, the leader of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regime's weapons of mass destruction programs, including a uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons. Colonel Qadhafi correctly judged that his country would be better off and far more secure without weapons of mass murder.
Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and Great Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not. And one reason is clear: For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America.
In reality, Gaddafi was broke from 10 years of Clinton-era sanctions and feared an uprising more than foreign military intervention. He needed the sanctions lifted so he could rebuild his military machine and hire mercenaries. So he gave up a nuclear program he couldn't afford and helped Bush & Blair show off some scary things that they couldn't find in Iraq. He bailed them out, and in return he got all the sanctions lifted.
They negotiated out of weakness, giving up every chip we had against Gaddafi in order to get very little in return.
Soon, the oil billions from BP and other companies were flowing in to Gaddafi's coffers. He had $30 Billion in American assets alone. He used the money to refurbish his ancient Soviet tanks, buy high-tech weapons for his praetorian guard 32nd Brigade, and hire an army of mercenaries...not just poor Tuaregs from Niger but Serbs who fought for Milosevic, White South Africans of the Apartheid era, and even some Western ex-Blackwater types. And now, apparently, to maintain and possibly build a fresh chemical weapons program in direct violation of treaties Gaddafi had been party to.
Remember, none of us on the Left thought the alternative to invading Iraq was to completely abandon all sanctions and pressure on Saddam. We believed he ought to be contained and monitored closely, most of us wanting the No-Fly Zones to remain his place so he couldn't threaten threaten the Kurds and Shia. None of us wanted to embrace him as a grotesque ally as Bush & Blair did with Gaddafi.
Bush and Blair were so desperate to change the subject from the failure to find WMDs in Iraq that they were duped into allowing an actual WMD program to continue unabated in Muammar Gaddafi's Libya.
And it was intervention by a US-led coalition under Barack Obama that ended up stopping it.
Thanks to the new Libyan government for disclosing these sites and good luck to the inspectors who will now seek to secure and dismantle them.
1:32 PM PT: Update: Just to be clear, it hasn't been revealed the extent or full nature of what the IAEA have uncovered. Could be a cache of blistard agent or a full arsenal of sarin nerve gas artillery shells. All thats known is that these are weapons that Gaddafi didn't declare, were unknown to the international community, and he was apparently taking affirmative steps to hide them from the world in violation of his obligations.
1:37 PM PT: Rec List! Thanks all! This story is getting big play in the UK because Blair had done even more than Bush to stake his reputation on bringing Gaddafi in from the cold...but there's scant mention of it here in the US.
2:49 PM PT: Update: To Those throwing cold water on whether or not these weapons really represented a threat, I think you miss the point.
Its that these revelations are that while Bush was prosecuting a trillion dollar war in Iraq on the false that Saddam had not fully accounted for his WMDs...he was unleashing, coddling, and even propping up an exponentially more terroristic dictator in Muammar Gaddafi who was actually maintaining hidden chemical weapons stockpiles as he reaped hundreds of billions in oil assets.
Bush got duped, and as an ancillary benefit to the successful multilateral intervention that put an end to Gaddafi, we've now discovered and are beginning to account for his hidden stockpiles.
Bush and Cheney fearmongered about what Saddam would have been capable of had he been freed of sanctions and given free reign to rebuild his war machine (a straw man argument as no American liberal wanted the Iraq sanctions lifted.) But in Libya, they lifted the sanctions and the local lunatic got rich, mowed down his own people, and was keeping a chemical trump card up his sleeve.
Late late update: Just to contrast the incumbent with his challengers...this is not a joke. Herman Cain was asked by NBC news correspondent Andrew Rafferty if his horrific Libya answer was indicative of his lack of foreign policy experience. Cain's answer...I shit you not... 9-9-9.