Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 13, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

MISSILES FOR MUAMMAR....Remember those North Korean missiles that we intercepted on the high seas a year ago? We asked Spain to stop a suspect ship for us, which they did, and then after dithering for a while we announced that the missiles were for our good friends in Yemen and let the ship go on its way.

It seemed odd at the time and embarrassing for the Spanish government but then it dropped off the radar screen. Today, however, Asia Times, quoting the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, suggests there was more to the story:

The handover was preceded by a telephone conversation between US Vice President Dick Cheney and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. When that conversation was made public, the White House justified the move by calling Yemen a friendly nation.

....The NATO sources cited in El Mundo said that at the time the shipment was intercepted, the United States was secretly negotiating the possibility that Libya would accept Saddam Hussein, then still president of Iraq, in exile. And Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who played the role of go-between during the Gulf War in 1991 by assisting in Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait, had hopes of gaining access to the weapons.

"Gaddafi wanted the missiles and Yemen acted as intermediary. In the context of gestures with Libya, it was decided to look the other way, given that there was no international regulation that impeded it," said the newspaper, citing sources from the Pentagon.

You know, I sure wish that I had the moral clarity of the warhawks. It must be a beautiful thing.

Kevin Drum 9:51 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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