Former Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns
says, unlike in Egypt, the United States has minimal influence in Libya and limited personal knowledge of maniacal leader Moammar Gadhafi, but international economic pressure might end his brutal violence against the Libyan people.
Burns, who served in the State Department during George W. Bush’s presidency, Tuesday told CNN’s John King international diplomatic condemnation of Gadhafi’s brutal actions in recent days has little impact on the despot, and only financial sanctions might stop him.
“This is a very different regime than what we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks in Tunisia, in Egypt, and Bahrain,” Burns said. “The one crucial difference here, John, is that in each of those situations – especially Egypt and Bahrain – the United States had a history of good relations. We had influence there and you saw President Obama able to … urge the Egyptian military, for instance, not to use force against the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, to urge the King of Bahrain and the crown prince, to back away from the use of force.
“We don’t have that kind of history with Gadhafi. We don’t have a level of personal knowledge – a good relationship with him,” Burns continued. “We have a bad and negative history, particularly [about] his brutal and cynical shoot down of Pan Am 103, and the murder of so many Americans, by Gadhafi, by order from Gadhafi, and by his regime.”
King asked Burns since the Libyan leader is not listening to calls for him to cease and desist, “would a financial noose influence him at all.” Burns said that might be the only answer.
“It could have an influence on him,” Burns said. “If Gadhafi were to hear – in private, as well as public – a very stiff, universally applied message from all the governments that do business there, that could possibly make a difference.
“I don’t think it could just be the United States,” he continued. “We are not the leading forward country in terms of political influence in Libya. So I think the issue of sanctions, of overt pressure on the Gadhafi regime, may be the only hope we have to see that very cynical and brutal government act in a more civilized way.”
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