Friday, August 15, 2003

Getting Away With War and Terror
Alexander Marriott August 14, 2003

At a time when the United States of America are fighting a war against International Terrorism and Terrorist States, the last thing the country needs is the appearance of weakness or appeasement. But the settlement that is looking more and more likely between the families of those who perished in Pam Am flight 103 and the Libyan government, that had that plane destroyed, is just such an act of appeasement and weakness that, if it comes to fruition, will only embolden clandestine acts of terror by states hostile to the United States.

In just the latest chapter of the disturbing story of letting victims (and their families) of not only crimes, but now acts of war, to decide upon the punishments, the relatives of those aboard the Pam Am flight have now reached a deal with the Libyan government for up to ten million dollars per family. The way it works is that the Libyans admit what everyone already knows, they blew up the Pam Am Flight. Then they pay the families millions of dollars as the various sanctions and embargoes are lifted by the United Nations, the United States, and Great Britain. Net result, a terrorist regime under a brutal dictator successfully gets away with outright murder and war against the West, with only having to pay a paltry sum that can be covered easily enough by squeezing out some oil.

It was one of the greatest and saddest failures of the Ronald Reagan presidency to let the Libyans under Gadhafi commit wanton acts of terrorism and war against the United States without any real recourse, except one bombing campaign and a series of sanctions that have left the Libyan government in place. It would be equally calamitous for President Bush to consent to this current plan to lift even these paltry punishments.

Daniel Cohen, whose daughter was killed in the bombing, aptly said of this “settlement” that, “This is supposed to be about justice, it's supposed to be about punishment. It is not supposed to be about blood money and a tawdry payoff and that's all I'm afraid we're going to get out of this.” He makes a good point; justice ought to be the goal of any settling of this affair. The only Just route is to make those responsible for the atrocious actions of the Libyan government pay, and not with money.

The troubling thing about all of this is that instead of rectifying all of the mistakes this country has made in dealing with terrorism from the 1950’s until September 11, 2001, we are returning to the old formula of appeasement and no punishment at all, which will only serve, as it did before, to embolden terrorists and the states that support them to attack us. Gadhafi will be free of restraint and actually taken off our State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism, and will, and of this I have no doubt, return to his old game, but with an emphasis on achieving a deterrent threat against the US Army through nuclear arms.

If he succeeds we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves and this administration for trusting a murdering thug with no credibility so that the families of the victims could divvy up 2.7 billion dollars. The loss to those families was very great but all they are doing is assuring more families will have to suffer from this man’s terrorism, whether those victims are Libyan or otherwise.

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