Matthew Yglesias gives President Bush backhanded credit for this one:
It is, moreover, a partial vindication of one of the nuttier aspects of grand strategy Ãƒ la Bush as one imagines that our demonstrated willingness to invade countries on a rather thin pretext played a role in pushing Gaddafi into line.
The trouble, of course, is that Libya really isn’t that big of a deal as far as rogue states go. If this technique had worked with Iran or North Korea, that would have been a major good thing. As things stand, however, Operation Invade at The Drop of a Hat seems to be backfiring with the DPRK and Iran is still up in the air.
Which, to me, actually demonstrates the advantage of Iraq-style preemptive action: DPRK and Iran are comparatively immune from invasion because of the level of their nuclear programs and therefore the threat to invade if they don’t cooperate is much less credible in those cases.
Kevin Drum is less sure that Iraq and Libya are linked, noting that there’s mixed evidence:
The fact that Libya was apparently serious about negotiating with us certainly makes you wonder if Iran and Syria were equally serious. And it’s also hard not to wonder what would have happened with Iraq if we’d been willing to spend a year negotiating with them instead of five rather obviously unserious months.
As I note in his comments section, we did negotiate with Iraq for the better part of a decade, including the eight years of the Clinton presidency, various UN resolutions, variations on UN sanctions, etc. And, of course, it’s much easier to gain leverage with a carrot and stick approach if you’ve recently demonstrated willingness to actually use the stick.
Update (1556) Stephen Bainbridge is on board as well, although he agrees with Kevin that “Iran and Syria will be tougher nuts to crack, not to mention North Korea.”
Robert Tagorda also thinks the connection more than coincidental–and quotes even Howard Dean advisor Ashton B. Carter as saying so.