George W. Bush’s former diplomat to the UN and possible presidential contender John Bolton has a solution to the ongoing crisis in Libya: assassinate Libya’s dictator, Moammar Gadhafi.
Speaking at Republican Rep. Steve King’s Conservative Principles Conference in Des Moines, Iowa yesterday, Bolton told a crowd of 600 conservative activists: “Our military has a wonderful euphemism called ‘national command authority.’ It’s a legitimate military target. In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi is the national command authority. I think that’s the answer right there.”
He later elaborated on what he meant. In an interview with The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove, Bolton said, “I think he’s a legitimate target.”
Here’s Grove, reporting on his conversation with Bolton:
“I think he’s a legitimate target,” the white-mustachioed Bolton told me after his speech. “That’s what Reagan did in 1986″—when U.S. jets bombed Gaddafi’s residence in Tripoli, killing his young daughter, in response to a lethal terrorist bombing in Germany—”and that would end the regime right there. He has murdered innocent American civilians. He has never faced responsibility for it. So I don’t have any hesitation in saying that.”
Bolton said he supports killing Gaddafi even though great uncertainty exists about who or what might replace him, including elements of al Qaeda who reportedly have been aiding Libya’s ragtag band of anti-Gaddafi rebels.
If Libya’s dictator is in fact terminated, the fear is that a leadership vacuum could emerge in that country that Islamists may fill. But Bolton is still willing to take the risk of doing away with Gadhafi: “This is a rare case of Gaddafi on the one hand, the unknown on the other—and I’d pick the unknown.”