To the Shores of Tripoli: The Libyan Threat to the United States of America

Date of Graduation

Spring 2003


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Ulrike Schumacher


Libya's foreign policy has taken an adversarial course toward the United States since Qaddafi came to power in 1969. The most important instruments Libya uses in exercising its foreign policy are the acquisition and development of weapons of mass destruction and their respective means of delivery and support of international terrorism. Over the last few decades, Libya has developed ballistic capabilities and has actively sought to acquire chemical and biological weapons. It is prudent to assume that Libya is seeking a nuclear capability. The possession of WMD and the support of terrorism illustrate the challenges to U.S. interests in the Middle East and hamper U.S. freedom of action in protecting U.S. assets and citizens worldwide. The thesis will analyze the underlying factors that make Libya a threat to the United States. Futhermore, the thesis examines U.S. reactions to the threats during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton Administrations, focusing on the Reagan Administration's 1986 response of coercive diplomacy as a case study in dealing with the Libyan threat.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Jon S. Aldridge