Friday, January 4, 2008

Foreign policies

Gee, it's getting harder and harder to trust the Bush administration on international relations. The repeated crises in Iraq, North Korea, Afghanistan and, of course, Pakistan seem make every White House decision suspect. Sometimes, it's hard to tell whether the administration is being unrealistic, naive, ridiculous or all three. In that context, it's impossible to view Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's meeting yesterday with Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammad Abdel-Rahman Shalgam in Washington with anything but concern. Dialog would seem to be a good thing, but there are limits. Libya has resolved some concerns, but not nearly all, since reportedly renouncing terrorism and nuclear weapons in 2003 in exchange for good will and economic support from the United States. Libya did release a Palestinian doctor and five Belgian nurses it held for seven years (seven years!) on seemingly ludicrous charges of spreading the AIDS virus. But Libya still refuses to release political prisoners or settle cases that arose from the Pan Am flight 103 crash over Scotland in 1988 and the bombing of a disco in West Berlin in 1986, according to the Reuters international news service. A White House spokesman said Rice raised these issues in a one-hour meeting with Shalgam, because she wants to work with Libya on Kosovo, Iran and Sudan. But words are not the same as action. Friendship with the United States used to be a nearly priceless commodity, until the Bush administration devalued it like the dollar.

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