U.S. options for punishing Libya for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 range from military strikes to an oil embargo. But experts say an attack only would strengthen Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Three academic experts on the North African nation agreed in separate interviews that an attack wouldn't persuade Gadhafi to surrender two Libyan intelligence officers wanted by United States and Britain for allegedly masterminding the 1988 Pan Am bombing.Henry Schuler of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington pointed to the 1986 U.S. bombing of Tripoli, which he said "rallied the people to Gadhafi and drove the opposition underground."
"Libyans are no less patriotic than any other nationality if they are under attack by a superpower," said Lisa Anderson, director of Columbia University's Middle East Institute.
"Hitting Libya might help at the polls," said Mary-Jane Deeb of American University's School of International Service. "But it won't produce any outcome satisfactory to anyone."
On Jan. 21, the Bush administration got unanimous U.N. Security Council backing for the extradition of the two agents charged in the Pan Am bombing and four others in the 1989 bombing of a French airliner. The bombings killed 440 people.
U.S. diplomats repeatedly promised to seek U.N. sanctions, but they have never forced a vote.