When President George W. Bush announced the deal, he made a clear reference to North Korea and Iran when he said, “I hope other leaders will find an example” in Libya’s action.
What happened less than a decade later might be at the heart of what Kim Jong-un appears to fear.
The United States and its European allies began a military action against Libya in 2011 to prevent Colonel Qaddafi’s threatened massacre of civilians. President Obama acceded to arguments from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to join the European-led action.
But no one in the Situation Room debated what message the decision to turn on Colonel Qaddafi might send to other countries that the United States was trying to persuade to relinquish their weapons, according to interviews conducted later with more than a half-dozen people engaged in the discussion.
The Libya intervention allowed anti-government rebels to put Colonel Qaddafi on the run, and months later they pulled him from a ditch and killed him. Since then, Libya has devolved into a dysfunctional state. And North Korea has taken notice.