A Glorious Holiday!

Ah, what a wonderful Christmas — er, Holiday Season (pardon me!). For one thing, the U.S. has captured Saddam Hussein, and the world is now a bit safer and more democratic. I don’t know about you, but every time I heard a loud sound, I’d jump, thinking maybe Saddam had unleashed one of his WMDs.

And now old Muammar Gaddafi has knuckled under, and wants to rid himself of his WMDs! I don’t think I can contain myself! No more cringing every time I see a vapor trail in the sky, worrying that one of Gaddafi’s missiles is incoming. My joy is complete.

Well, not quite complete. Deep down, where I really live, I suspect some sort of ulterior motive. The news reports say that negotiations began with Libya just prior to the onset of the Iraq war. The war in Iraq, however, was being considered quite a while "just prior" to its onset, so Gadaffi probably wasn’t taken by surprise by the U.S. attack. Libya’s foreign minister Mohamed Chalgam said that "Libya wants to solve all problems and we want to focus on development and advancing our country." By "our country," of course, he meant the big boys that run the place. (That either the Gaddafi or Bush governments give a whit about the average Libyan is too preposterous to consider). So, perhaps anticipating that the U.S., in casting about for still another country upon which to impose Peace, Democracy, Justice, and the American Way, might favor Libya, the rulers decided to negotiate something mutually profitable. Libya does, after all, have generous oil reserves. One can solve a lot of problems, and do a lot of developing and advancing, when the bucks start flowing in from America.

And then there are the sanctions. Libya has been under sanctions for many years, both as a suspected holder of biological and chemical weapons, like the U.S., Russia, and probably some other countries, but also as the country responsible for the bombing of the Pan Am flight over Scotland. Libya acknowledged responsibility for that to avoid sanctions that would have been even worse: a sort of international plea-bargain. By abandoning its weapons development, Libya (read The Rulers), as a result of the anticipated dropping of sanctions by the U.S., or at least their mitigation, might reap substantial benefits — perhaps from the Carlyle group (for example), which might find itself a beneficiary of the Libyan disarmament policy as well. That decaying Libyan infrastructure will need a lot of shoring up!

And, of course, an election is coming. Afghanistan is fading into the background; perhaps some Americans might not even have a clear memory of what we’re doing there. Iraq, of course, is still in the news, but not always on the front page nowadays, unless another one of our soldiers gets killed by some crazed Iraqi who doesn’t know that the U.S. is only over there for his own good. The crisis-de-jour is a staple of modern government, especially at election time, and an aborted crisis is even better than a real one, and probably cheaper, although nobody cares about that. Maybe some recall those photos of the Pres landing aboard an aircraft carrier, or chowing down with the grunts in Iraq on Thanksgiving. Can’t you see the news photos of a beaming President Bush shaking hands with Gadaffi as the two of them meet to sign some sort of papers promising justice and happiness for everyone? It reminds me of those pictures of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam, in earlier days, when he was still our buddy.

Come to think of it, skip the photos. You never know when they’ll come back to haunt you. The money and the election should suffice.

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is a semi-retired ophthalmologist in St. Louis, and the author of All Work & No Pay.

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