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Libya will pay 2.7
billion dollars or 10 million dollars to each of the 270 victims
of the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing after accepting civil
responsibility for the blast, Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman
Shalgham said this month. The total sum was the same as US
officials said on March 12 Libya had offered as compensation in
talks with the United States and Britain.
"My country has accepted civil responsibility for the actions of its officials in the Lockerbie affair, in conformity with international civil law and the agreement reached in London in March by Libyan, American and British officials," he said.
The action by the Libyan government could preview a multi-faceted process of achieving stabilization and peace in the Middle East - and specifically, between Israel and Palestinians. That is, the pre-emptive military strike on Iraq strengthened the effectiveness of diplomatic, economic and other non-military actions to curb terrorist-supporting states; the very measures that failed to disarm Saddam Hussein and eliminate his support of terrorists. Reciprocity backed up by the threat, and now the execution, of military action has been strengthened.
First, a look at reciprocal diplomacy. Middle East expert Ronald Bruce St John outlined this approach in a 2002 speech to the Middle East Institute. Discussing possible reproachment between Libya and the United States, St John outlined a plan -- a clearly defined road map with reciprocal obligations -which would enable both countries to break the cycle of hostilities and move on to better relations.
The milestones begin with Libyan payment of compensation to the relatives of the Lockerbie victims and includes a formal renunciation of terrorism. This milestone has been apparently reached with Libya's $2.7 billion settlement announcement.
According to St John, as each milestone is met, the United States would enact reciprocal obligations such as rescinding the travel ban on US citizens to Libya and removing Libya from the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism. While there is little new in the key milestones on the road map, the United States must, in St John's words put "an emphasis on clearly-spelled-out, reciprocal obligations at each stage," something, he argues, that has "been sorely lacking."
The concept of "reciprocal obligations" is key here. A new factor must be added; that being the overwhelming commitment, determination, and outcome of the Iraq pre-emptive operation. Saddam Hussein and his government paid the price of refusing to meet obligations to the international community. When the world community through the United Nations failed to enforce Iraq's obligations, the United States and Britain acted.
By setting up consequences for failing to meet reciprocal obligations, the United States and Britain effectively strengthened the positive outcome of reciprocity by establishing dire consequences for a lack of reciprocity. This is the historical significance of President Bush's preemptive doctrine.
Remember that Libya was the Iraq of the eighties. This included Libyan involvement in a string of terrorist incidents, including the bombing of a West Berlin discothèque in which two Americans died. Following retaliatory air strikes by the Reagan administration the Gadhafi regime responded almost immediately with a string of terrorist reprisals lasting almost four years. The evidence suggests the murder of a kidnapped American and two Britons in Beirut, an attack on a U.S. embassy employee in Sudan, and a Libyan missile fired at a U.S. installation in Italy. And in December 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed over Scotland and UTA Flight 772 blew up over Niger in September 1989. Libyan officials were eventually convicted of involvement in the terrorist attacks on both airlines.
Now almost 15 years later, Libya recognizes a new world order - an order imposed effectively by the United States. Namely, if a terrorist-sponsoring state renounces support for terrorists, and is willing to take specific and prescribed steps in that regard, they can expect to enjoy the benefits. If on the other hand a state sponsor of terrorists refuses, and such support endangers the U.S., it can expect to suffer a military response.
The test will be the Israeli-Palestinian problem, and whether an array of reciprocal steps can be established that will enable Israel and the Palestinians to move gradually but deliberately towards a viable peace.
Write to Arthur at firstname.lastname@example.org
Arthur Bruzzone has written over 250 political articles for national and regional media, and has commented on political and urban issues for American and European television and radio networks. He is an award-winning public affairs television producer/host.His articles and columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Campaign & Elections Magazine, among other publications. Mr. Bruzzone holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy from C.U.A in Washington , D.C., and a M.B.A. in real estate. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer serving two years in the Kingdom of Tonga, and the former chair of the San Francisco Republican Party. He is president of a leading real estate investment company in San Francisco.
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