Dealing with Qaddafi

by Andrew Stuttaford
Tapped (h/t Andrew Sullivan) has some fun with a John McCain tweet (who knew?) about a meeting with Qadaffi in 2009:
“Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his “ranch” in Libya–interesting meeting with an interesting man”.
Rejecting the temptation to rush to McCain’s defense by pointing out that the word “interesting” can come with many meanings, I cannot say this sort of thing worries me too much. Qaddafi is a disgusting individual, a tyrant, a murderer, and, quite evidently, dangerously deranged, but there was no doubt that in recent years he had become less of an immediate danger to American and wider Western interests. This was in no small part thanks to being bathed in quite remarkable amounts of obsequiousness (and, I suspect, some kindly blind eyes being turned to the Qaddafi family’s financial machinations and quest for bespoke prestige).  A nauseating and nasty business, certainly, but a properly run foreign policy is not for the squeamish. Certainly Qaddafi could never be trusted, but he could at least be rented.
Now, however, Qaddafi is (to borrow Kevin Williamson’s terms) a “cornered rat” and, more specifically, a “cornered-rat terrorist.” That may leave the coalition with no choice other than to try to remove him. We’ll have to see, but it’s worth noting in the meantime that military operations are generally meant to broaden the range of options available to those who launch them. In this case the opposite appears to have happened. It’s hard to see how that is a good thing.