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Fareed Zakaria did something fascinating yesterday: He actually spent four minutes of his show teaching a little history. He explained how the Middle East was formed as a political bloc and how that led to what's happening there now. Can you imagine learning something on cable TV?
The pretext for the lesson was that he was interviewing Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the Iraq War. Predictably, Wolfowitz attacked the Obama administration over its handling of the Libya uprising, but I was kind of surprised to see Wofly bash the Bush administration as well for making a deal with Libya when Bush took them off the terrorist list -- but in doing so, he ascribed blame to the families of the tragic Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. Of course, Wolfowitz has no actual proof that they put pressure on Bush.
ZAKARIA: You were in the administration that have - that normalized relations with Libya. It is the Bush administration that brought him in from the cold - from the cold. Were you opposed to that decision?
WOLFOWITZ: Look, I think we needed to give some acknowledgement to the fact that he handed over his nuclear weapons program. But it was an illegal program, and I thought we were giving him a lot by in effect saying you wouldn't suffer the fate of Saddam Hussein. I don't think we had to go nearly as far as we went.
There was a lot of pressure from Pan-Am 103 families because they wanted to collect the money that Gadhafi was offered. I -
ZAKARIA: Do you think that's really -
WOLFOWITZ: At one point, I believed - well, I was being told that the pressure was - I believe it was significant. I can't prove it. The United States went ahead and restored full diplomatic relations and had the Secretary of State visit.
I think we have should have drawn more of a line. Some move was appropriate. I think we went too far, and I think the Obama administration continued that.
The man who heaped spoons full of love towards attacking Iraq is shoveling garbage on shattered families of the Flight 103 nightmare. A real class act.
Libya has paid $1.5 billion to the families of terrorism victims, overcoming the final obstacle to full relations with the United States, the State Department said Friday. The payment ends Tripoli's legal liability in U.S. terror cases and paves the way for increased U.S. involvement in the oil-rich nation. President Bush signed an executive order Friday restoring Libyan immunity from terrorism-related lawsuits and dismissing pending cases over compensation as part of a deal reached this summer.
David Welch, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, who negotiated the agreement, called Libya's rehabilitation from a terrorist nation to a U.S. ally "historic." The pact closes the book on a contentious period in U.S.-Libyan relations, which began in the 1980s with a series of attacks involving the two countries, including the bombings of Pan Am flight 103, a German disco and U.S. airstrikes over Libya.
U.S. business executives hope the new relationship will lead to billions of dollars of new investment in Libya, a country rich in petroleum reserves but lacking a developed infrastructure.
Wolfowitz attacked many people in this interview, including the American Right generally -- for, as Zakaria puts it, losing sight of the importance of the importance of democracy. That means you, Rush Limbaugh!
ZAKARIA: What about the American right? Is it - has it become so fearful of some kind of radical Islam that it is losing sight of the importance of the importance of democracy, in your view?
WOLFOWITZ: Look, I - I think there's too much attempt to put foreign policy views in - in right/left terms. The view that I would like to associate with is the one I think of as Harry Truman and John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, who believed that support for freedom, support for democracy is not only something that is morally important for the United States but equally is strategically important, and a freer, more democratic world is good for us.
ZAKARIA: But - but the people who are arguing against it on the right are saying we are looking at what's going on inside these societies and they're going to end up being - becoming radical Islamic societies, and that's why we - we oppose them.
WOLFOWITZ: Look, there's a - there's a dangerous argument, I think, that almost says if - if you're a Muslim and you're not an extremist, then you're not a good Muslim, and it's coming from people who aren't Muslims at all. What I know is that there are 200 million Muslims in the Indonesia country that I know very - I - it's an exaggerated - it's a complicated country, but I know a lot about it. Most of those 200 million Muslims are very tolerant people. They liked nothing better than to live in a country that's like the United States.
We certainly shouldn't say, oh, anyone who is of that faith is a problem. And they are our best allies.
I'm sure very soon Wolfowitz will be going on RushBo's show to bow down, kiss the ring and beg for forgiveness from the Holy One.