Note from Rafik Beekun: It is time that our country shows some backbone when dealing with tyranny around the world. Gaddafi is a dictator who has been linked to terrorism and repression for decades. However, in spite of his lack of movement towards democracy and the domestic repression in his own country, all is now forgiven between the U.S. and Libya. If the U.S. wants the people of Libya to recognize the true value of the freedoms we, Americans, cherish, it would stand by them in their fight for a democratic state.
Washington Post, Sunday, September 7, 2008; Page B06
[...]On Friday Condoleezza Rice became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Libya since 1953; she had dinner with Moammar Gaddafi, sponsor of two of the most spectacular acts of terrorism against Americans and a cruel dictator in his own country since 1969.
The visit was the culmination of years of effort by the administration to restore relations, during which Mr. Gaddafi disclosed and gave up a nuclear weapons program, cooperated in the U.S. campaign against al-Qaeda and reached a final settlement on claims by the victims of the 1980s bombings of a U.S. airliner and a Berlin disco. U.S. officials [...] downplay the fact that U.S. oil companies are eager to resume operations in Libya and that senior administration officials such as Vice President Cheney have been pushing their cause since well before the “strategic changes” lauded by Ms. Rice. In fact, a trade and investment deal was on the agenda for her visit.
Not on the public agenda was the beleaguered cause of human rights in Libya. The Gaddafi regime has not altered its domestic repression. The ruler’s son Saif, who occasionally has spoken of the need for democratic reforms, mysteriously announced his retirement from politics last month. The country’s best-known political prisoner, Fathi al-Jahmi, remained confined in a hospital during Ms. Rice’s visit; he has been jailed or forcibly hospitalized since 2002 for advocating democracy. When questioned by reporters, Ms. Rice said that she would raise the dissident’s case, but the secretary passed up the opportunity to make his release — much less any other liberalization in Libya — a condition for her historic visit. [more]