Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rewarding a Killer of Americans

Commentary by Martin Kelly
March 2, 2004

Here’s an interesting poser. At the height of the Holocaust, just before the end of the war, the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Birkenau were working round the clock, largely using Henry Ford’s methods of mass production to ensure the end of the Jewish people, to send them to the oblivion Hitler considered their destiny. There was an almost frantic level of activity to try to get what the Nazis considered to be such an important job done. One of Hitler’s most reviled middle managers, the camp commandant Rudolf Hoess, employed skills that would have made him a very capable and probably successful production manager to ensure that the Fuhrer’s hellish work was finished before T-42 tanks, blooded in the fields of Kursk or on the banks of the Volga at Stalingrad, rolled up the now universally chilling railway siding, underneath the sign that read ‘Work Makes You Free’.
Would Hitler and Hoess have been able to escape liability by paying compensation?
Here’s another one. Osama bin Laden is probably long dead by now. The best evidence for this is already in American custody in Cuba. The fact that his bodyguards are there leads one to surmise that the body isn’t worth protecting any more. However, if Osama were to make an offer of compensation to his victims, together with a firm commitment not to pursue Weapons of Mass Destruction programs, presumably that would ensure that he would not suffer further sanction for his acts of terrorism, which easily fall in to the Nuremberg classification of ‘Crimes Against Humanity’.
Although both of these examples sound ridiculous, they are both equivalent to the gavotte that is currently playing out around Muammar Gaddafi. Muammar Gaddafi is a killer of Americans. His agents are ruthless killers of London cops, residents of the Scottish countryside, soldiers and police personnel in Ireland and those most hated groups, German nightclubbers and GI’s out for a night on the town. Now, for reasons entirely in tune with 21st Century concerns but entirely neglectful of the debt Gaddafi owes the dead and the bereaved of the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany that he left in his wake, soon he’s going to be a good guy.
Forget that.
On February 26th, the State Department lifted a ban on travel to Libya. Muammar Gaddafi’s state subsidised but ultimately private war on the United Sates has never been undeclared. He has never expressed penitence for the strenuous and sometimes successful efforts he made to kill Americans during the 1980’s. Gaddafi never had access to the American mainland or the American people in the same way that Hitler and Hoess had access to European Jewry. However, it is not unreasonable to assume that, at that time, had he had access to technology that would have enabled him to make a Weapon of Mass Destruction that an agent could deliver into the United States of America, he would have used it. His aim has always been to kill as many Americans as he can, and the specifically neo-conservative agenda of ending the scourge of WMD proliferation ensures that he will get his reward for playing ball.
Justify that to the soul of Stephen Flanagan, the Last Victim of Lockerbie. He was 14 when all his family was killed in the obliteration of Sherwood Crescent, and 24 when he stepped under a train. Stephen came from a town where not much else happens other than the train passes through. He and his townsfolk, my countrymen, have never been and now never will be properly avenged for what was visited on them in the night.
The paleos’ views on Gaddafi are not much more enlightened. In the March 1st issue of The American Conservative, the much-maligned and misunderstood Pat Buchanan lays out a very cerebral case against neo-conservatism in the context of a review of An End To Evil, written by Richard Perle and the increasingly disturbing David Frum. Both these veterans of the Conrad Black era Hollinger (Perle was a main board director, Frum a columnist for the Canadian National Post) are comprehensively ‘fisked’ by one of the greatest minds on the American right.
However, in the article Buchanan makes a startling error. While daring to praise George W. Bush for leading the coalition in Afghanistan, he writes
“On Sept. 11, Al Qa’eda attacked us. Al Qa’eda is our enemy, not Syria, Libya or Saudi Arabia”.
At no point has Libya ceased hostilities. Libya is still as much the enemy of the United States as it was 20 years ago. While Muammar Gaddafi is in power, at no point will Libya ever give up hostilities. It is not in Gaddafi’s character to give up this fight. However, because his actions suit the agenda of some of those seeking to make America secure, he gets a free pass. He gets a lifting of the travel ban. If he pays compensation to the families of those he killed, that makes it all right.
It doesn’t make it right for everyone who lost money in Pan Am. Pan American Airways went out of business because of the actions of Muammar Gaddafi. Workers lost their jobs, investors lost their money. Some will say, well, they should have taken more care to screen their luggage. Why should they? Why should universal air travel, the product of free and open societies, be held hostage and have high costs because of the backward and corrupt cultures and fascist politics of a North African dictator? They shouldn’t have had to. The death of an American institution like Pan Am deserves consideration in the moral calculus ranged against Gaddafi.
Tony Blair’s going to see him soon. One day, he’ll have tea with the Queen. He might be invited to the White House, if age or the Islamists don’t get him first. There is only one way for the stain of Libya’s guilt to be washed away, which is for Muammar Gaddafi to present himself at the gates of Camp Delta to face trial for crimes against humanity and crimes against peace. He considers himself at war with America. His current accommodation is only for his own interest. He should be treated like a war criminal. On that day, all conservatives should rejoice.
It’s a great pity that the group Buchanan calls ‘AEI warlords’ will never let it happen.