Thursday, 20 October 2011

When Condi Met Gaddafi

My last few months [in office] did not go quietly or without consequence.  They even brought historic moments—none more so than my much anticipated visit to Libya to meet with Colonel Muammar Qaddafi. When the Libyans gave up their weapons of mass destruction in 2003, there was a clear diplomatic quid pro quo: in exchange, we’d help them to return to good standing in the international community. But it would not be easy and not only because of Qaddafi’s long record of brutality.
Libya had arrested five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor several years before on trumped-up charges that they had deliberately infected more than four hundred Libyan children with HIV. The medics insisted that they were innocent, but the Libyan courts had sentenced the group to death. The United States repeatedly urged Libya to find a way to release them, and I was grateful for the dedication and leadership of European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner on the issue. Libya’s decision in 2007 to commute the sentences and allow the medics to return home was due in large part to Benita’s resolve.
We had to make sure, too, that we were sufficiently attentive to the sensitivities and needs of the families of the victims of the colonel’s decades-long reign of terror. I withheld my visit until we could secure a Libyan claims settlement for families whose relatives had been killed in attacks such as the bombing by Libyan agents of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
My upcoming trip gave me powerful leverage in these negotiations because Qaddafi desperately wanted me to visit Tripoli.
There were two reasons for this: one traditional and the other, well, a little disconcerting. Obviously, the first visit by a U.S. secretary of state since 1953 would be a major milestone on the country’s path to inter- national acceptability. But Qaddafi also had a slightly eerie fascination with me personally, asking visitors why his “African princess” wouldn’t visit him.
I decided to ignore the latter and dwell on the former to prepare for the trip. The arrangements were not easy, with all manner of Libyan demands, including that I meet the leader in his tent. Needless to say, I declined the invitation and met him in his formal residence.
condoleezza-rice-gadaffi-tease
EPA / Newscom
Stopping first in Portugal and staying with my friends Ambassador Thomas Stephenson and his wife, Barbara, I took advantage of Foreign Minister Luis Amado’s knowledge of Libya and Qaddafi. He suggested that I open the conversation with a discussion of Africa. “And don’t be surprised when he says something crazy,” he cautioned. “He’ll get back on track.”
When I arrived in Tripoli, I was asked to wait at one of the only Western-style hotels in the city. There was no doubt that the capital had once been a beautiful place, but it appeared run-down and tired. The only bright lights seemed to be those illuminating the many, many billboards of Qaddafi and his “inspirational” sayings. In speaking with Libyans, a distinct generational divide manifested itself. While the senior staff spoke English fluently and reminded me of my European colleagues, younger officials appeared to have had fewer educational opportunities and little contact with the West. It was another reminder of the sad consequences of Qaddafi’s monstrous rule.
After several hours, we were summoned to the residence, where I greeted the Libyan leader and sat down to hundreds of camera flashes. Qaddafi said a few completely appropriate words, as did I, and the press left. We began the conversation as Amado had suggested, talking about Africa in general and Sudan in particular. Libya, he promised, would help with alternative routes for humanitarian supplies to the refugees. This is going pretty well, I thought. He doesn’t seem crazy. Then, as Amado had predicted, he suddenly stopped speaking and began rolling his head back and forth. “Tell President Bush to stop talking about a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine!” he barked. “It should be one state! Israeltine!” Perhaps he didn’t like what I said next. In a sudden fit, he fired two translators in the room. Okay, I thought, this is Qaddafi.
no-higher-honor
No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington
By Condoleezza Rice
784 pages. Crown. $35.


It was Ramadan at the time of my visit, and after sundown the “Brother Leader” insisted that I join him for dinner in his private kitchen. Colby Cooper, who had overseen the arrangements for the trip, protested that this hadn’t been the plan. My security detail did as well, especially when they were told to stay outside. I thought I could take care of myself and went in. At the end of dinner, Qaddafi told me that he’d made a videotape for me. Uh oh, I thought, what is this going to be? It was a quite innocent collection of photos of me with world leaders—President Bush, Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao, and so on—set to the music of a song called “Black Flower in the White House,” written for me by a Libyan composer. It was weird, but at least it wasn’t raunchy.
The press was fascinated with my trip, and I sat down for an interview with CNN’s Zain Verjee (who often worked with producer Elise Labott on State Department coverage). Zain asked me about my personal impressions of Qaddafi. I remember that I came away from the visit realizing how much Qaddafi lives inside his own head, in a kind of alternate reality. As I watched events unfold in the spring and summer of 2011, I wondered if he even understood fully what was going on around him. And I was very, very glad that we had disarmed him of his most dangerous weapons of mass destruction. There in his bunker, making his last stand, I have no doubt he would have used them.

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fessup
53 Minutes Ago
Both Hillary and Condi are very capable. Hillary seems to remain loyal to her leader as she should, but also speaks her mind as she analyzes things. Condi on the other hand seemed loyal to a fault as she defended even the most baseless things her boss did. It seems much harder for her to say what she really thinks. She has always been in positions where she has had to be politically correct and politically loyal. Unlike Hillary she has never had to run for office so her we could tell what her core beliefs are. She is expremely skilled at gracefully avoiding hard questions.
butlerreport
24 Minutes Ago
She's a dope
Donah
3 Hours Ago
Condi is one of those people I would give the green light for anything
Like Hillary she is unique
What more can I say..
From the GripeVine.. & Donah..//
CaptainKazoo
42 Minutes Ago
I like both of them, warts and all.
AnyoneforTea
3 Hours Ago
Look at Condi Rice here, fit, trim, well coiffed, smartly dressed, the attractive face with the confident smile.
Then look at Hillary or Madeline Albright and just imagine what poor and hungry people around the world think upon seeing them. 
cherokeeno1
2 Hours Ago
Anyonefortea, nothing helps??? You're getting nuttier by the day!! At least no one takes you seriously. Sort of looked upon as the village idiot.
1 more (expand)
Anazazi Ruins
39 Minutes Ago
A4T's African Queen, somebody's got a woodie for Condi besides Gadaffy.
Pythinia
3 Hours Ago
784 pages surely she could have edited down a bit...
qpit
4 Hours Ago
a Dem here,
CaOndi R., Thanks a million form your service to our country,
And for your genuine loyalty to Pres.Bush!
love you, both!
oortcloud
4 Hours Ago
You can respect a president for his accomplishments, but loving one is a misnomer. Love is not applicable to public servants.
1 more (expand)
oortcloud
14 Minutes Ago
why would she be an exception?
AnyoneforTea
5 Hours Ago
When Bush took us into Iraq, Qaddafi was working on an Atomic bomb, that is a (fact).
When Qaddafi saw Saddam Hussein dug out of his hole and hanged, Qaddafi then gave up his Nuclear Bomb program to the UN (fact).
If Qaddafi had continued his bomb program and maybe had a nuclear weapon, NATO would have never gone in there to remove him.
So none of this would have happened, none of this could have happened, had not George Bush removed Saddam Hussein.
Any way you want to add this thing up the victory goes to George W Bush and Condolezza Rice.
All the more reason to deal now with Iran quickly before they can threaten us with an atomic bomb. 
oortcloud
4 Hours Ago
None of this gives direct credit to Bush or Condi for denuclearizing Dafi. Sadam's fate doesn't necessarily plays role in his decision to stop making an A-bomb.
2 more (expand)
savannah43
44 Minutes Ago
AnyoneforTea: Now that's funny. So, you're a joker? The only credit Bush should get is for time served.
xscharm
5 Hours Ago
I don't see what was 'eerie' about it. Mooamar just wanted laid but Condi had never heard of such a thing and besides, she didn't know if she even had the plumbing for it. What a crazy guy.
oortcloud
4 Hours Ago
For Dafi even a potato balanced on to kielbasas would look like a good deal. So Condi must have looked like a princess.
Donah
2 Hours Ago
Good Lord...
I hope Condi won´t see this outcry.... Donah..//
JP
5 Hours Ago
That's it? A two page introduction to a two page "excerpt"? Give us a break. What a tabloid bait and switch.
Donah
2 Hours Ago
JP.... !! I lost the logic.... could you repeat that in full color??
Donah..//
dwightmlee
6 Hours Ago
“would have went”?!?!?
If YOU had any brains you would learn English!
I love how each extreme bashes the other. What the libs say about the right and what the right says about the libs could easily be flipped around in almost every case.
Both extremes are wrong 97% of the time.
The only hope for the U.S. is 85% of the power going to the moderates where 85% of the voters’ are. 
LDS150
3 Hours Ago
And that's certainly not where any of the Republican candidates are. Most people will vote for the Moderate. Republicans just don't get it.
Donah
2 Hours Ago
OMG..... ´anyone for a no-brainer ??
and BTW.... where does one learn English.... ??
In Cambridge to start... in Oxford t graduate.... Donah..//
AnyoneforTea
7 Hours Ago
When Bush took us into Iraq, Qaddafi was working on an Atomic bomb, that is a (fact).
When Qaddafi saw Saddam Hussein dug out of his hole and hanged, Qaddafi then gave up his Nuclear Bomb program to the UN (fact).
If Qaddafi had continued his bomb program and maybe had a nuclear weapon, NATO would have never gone in there to remove him.
So none of this would have happened, none of this could have happened, had not George Bush removed Saddam Hussein.
Any way you want to add this thing up the victory goes to George W Bush and Condolezza Rice.
All the more reason to deal now with Iran quickly before they can threaten us with an atomic bomb.
Jimbo123
6 Hours Ago
Good grief!....Saddam stopped his nuclear program well before Bush said hello...and that's a fact! Besides the only country iraq would have nuked is....you guessed it, IRAN!

If Bush and the GOP had any brains they would have went after Iran in the first place...always has and always will be the real threat. Too late now though. Friggin GOP, put us all at risk!
15 more (expand)
cherokeeno1
35 Minutes Ago
so be it you idiot, name the place time and bring your army
cometlinear
7 Hours Ago
Gadaffi also said he loved Obama "like a son".
Jimbo123
7 Hours Ago
point being?
5 more (expand)
Donah
2 Hours Ago
Maybe th├ít´s not some bad idea
He should have taken HIM with him.... as a son...
And we wouldn´t have had this downpoor of bad luck we had...
Donah..//
drauzy
7 Hours Ago
“And don’t be surprised when he says something crazy,” he cautioned. “He’ll get back on track.”

finally! the answer to that oft-heard question...
"how are the GOP Presidential candidates like Muammar Gaddafi?"
 
mathpol
7 Hours Ago
Well done Condi. I was no fan of the GWBush administration, but you certainly helped improve things as time went on. Too bad you can't own up to the WMD fraud.
oldpoliticaljunkie
Fremon
7 Hours Ago
I always have to laugh at books written by members of a president's cabinet. Mostly, they are self serving and basically a way to earn a little more money from book sales a la Palin and many others. In past day's biographies filled in certain periods of the president they served with information not readily available at that time. Today, with instant communications they take a different turn, so to speak, basically to say "I was there and wasn't that interesting". To me Rice will always be remembered by her "mushroom cloud" phrase to add gravitas to support the invasion of Iraq. The other lovable phrase was her "who would have thought about flying planes into a building" never enlightening either herself or the people that she had read an internal document about "Al queda threatening to use planes to fly into buildings". It all caught up with her. Now from her lofty former Stanford position as an administrator she is a professor teaching students, I guess about the "real" world. Oh, I almost forgot. She was a Russian expert and presumably had knowledge of the language but when on Russian media she didn't understand enough to say "nyet" to a question posed, or something similar about not understanding a basic question posed.
bluto
7 Hours Ago
Condi's love could have saved him... "the love of a good woman"
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