The U.S. should consider a broad range of options for rehabilitating Libya, including beginning a reconstruction trust fund with seized assets and possibly arming anti-Qaddafi rebels, former national security adviser Stephen Hadley said on Sunday morning.
Hadley, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, praised President Obama’s comments last week that Muammar el-Qaddafi had lost legitimacy as Libya’s ruler and had to step down. Pressed by host Candy Crowley about the dangers of not following through on criticism, Hadley said, “I think we don't sit back, that's the point.”
He then elaborated on “the greater scope for our diplomacy” between tough talk and military action.
“I think for example, we could now consider a statement that we're now looking past Qaddafi, we're going to help the Libyan people to build a regime in which they can be proud,” said Hadley, who served in the George W. Bush administration. “I'd like to take this money that we have frozen... and say we will start creating a trust for the rebuilding of Libya, and we could start calling for tribes, the military, other groups, to turn against Qaddafi, join in building a new Libya, and then make the point that they'll be held responsible for his crimes if they don't. And if that call were echoed by the international community... I think we'd begin to build some momentum.
“You could then talk about withdrawing our representation to the government, maybe recognizing the Libyan National Council, and maybe even covertly starting to get weapons to the rebels so that they could create their own no-fly zone."
Hadley also defended the Bush administration’s attempt at relations with Libya, saying that Qaddafi gave up weaponry that could have made the current crisis even worse.
"It was a very difficult decision, but what we got for being willing to resume relations with Libya was that he gave up his weapons of mass destruction, his nuclear program, his chemical weapons program,” Hadley said. “... We also urged him to reform; it turned out to be a fool's errand, as we saw, but I think the wisdom of what we did is shown by the fact that -- think about if this megalomaniac now had chemical weapons in his possession, and had the option of using those against the Libyan people."
Ali Errishi, the former Libyan immigration minister, faulted previous U.S. response to Libya, saying anti-Qaddafi elements asked for help removing the dictator in the past only to be met with an unenthusiastic response. "There should be some limit to geopolitical cynicism,” he said.
Asked by Crowley if the Bush administration waited too long to get involved, Hadley said, "You really won't know the answer to that question till you see how this plays out.... People actually want and need to fight and win their own freedom. But that doesn't mean that we cannot help."