If you want to understand the effect of the American military campaign in Iraq on international diplomacy, look no further than former National Security Council staffer Flynt Leverett's op-ed in the New York Times. "The idea....that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's apparent decision to renounce weapons of mass destruction was a largely a result [sic] of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein....misrepresents the real lesson of the Libyan case," writes Leverett. Rather, he attributes Libya's cooperation to several years of gentle diplomacy, during which "an explicit quid pro quo was offered: American officials indicated that a verifiable dismantling of Libya's weapons projects would lead the removal our own sanctions [sic]." The lesson we should draw from this success, according to Leverett, is that "we must not only apply pressure but also make clear the potential benefits of cooperation....Until the president is willing to employ carrots as well as sticks, he will make little headway" in disarming rogue nations.
In fact, Leverett's own words completely undermine his claim that the toppling of Saddam Hussein hasn't radically strengthened America's diplomatic position. After all, who in the world, two years ago, would have characterized America's imposition of harsh economic sanctions against a target nation, to be lifted only if that nation complied wholeheartedly with US demands, as a balanced, "carrots as well as sticks" approach to diplomacy?