The question of how to deal with so-called rogue states, especially those trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction (WMD), is currently of central importance to the world. Advocates of military action, who predominated immediately after 9/11, have lost credibility in recent years. Yet they have claimed one clear success: Libya's decision to renounce WMD in late 2003. The Bush administration believed that this decision was based largely on fears of US military action. This essay, in contrast, argues that other factors were crucial, notably the impact of years of economic sanctions and the lure of economic incentives. Thus the Libyan case, far from supporting a military approach to “rogue states,” in fact argues for a patient policy of diplomacy and economic carrots and sticks.

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