Still, still, still working on this empire essay, so only a few moments to post this morning. But, quickly, a few comments on the Libya deal.
First, this has only a tenuous link to the Bush Doctrine, though the White House and some of the more gullible columnists are going to great lengths to portray it that way. Libya has been trying to get good with the US and Europe for half a dozen years -- as signalled by the first on-going and now just concluded negotiations over the Pan-Am bombing.
(The Libya deal looks like an especially good example of the Bush Doctrine in action if you haven't been paying any attention to Libya for the last dozen years. Along those lines, here's a good article on that history, and a recent update by the same author.)
Second, Libya's 'WMD' are awfully primitive compared to be the big-boys of the rogue state universe. They have mustard gas, a World War I era weapon, and some very preliminary nuclear stuff, not even remotely close to having a serious facility let alone a bomb. So that context is important.
Having said all this, some are pointing to this development as a sign of the merits of talking versus fighting in turning back the scourge of weapons proliferation.
But that won't do either.
Talking, in itself, means nothing. It's only a way of lubricating or finessing the application of different kinds of force or pressure. And the pressure applied to Libya has been fierce. Only it wasn't principally military, but economic.
Libya has been under fierce UN-sanctions for a decade. And the strangling pressure of those sanctions, combined with rising internal political strains which magnified their effect, prompted the shift of course.
Does the backdrop of Iraq play into the decision? Of course, it does. But this isn't a break with the direction Libya's been pursuing, but a continuation of it.
(Juan Cole, as always, has some very perceptive commentary on this whole matter.)
The real story with the Libya development is the light it's showing on where it likely got its nuclear starter kit: i.e., Pakistan.
New information from North Korea and particularly from Iran is starting to show us that, in essence, there really is no global weapons proliferation problem so much as there's a Pakistan problem.
We now know enough to say with increasing confidence that every state we're worrying about got either all of their help, or their most significant help, from the Pakistanis.
This raises so many questions and so many sharp-edged dilemmas that it is truly difficult to know where to start.