Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Bill Clinton says to "Trust Tony Blair" 

Former President Bill Clinton, in the UK Guardian Unlimited on Tuesday, March 18, says Tony Blair's judgement ought to be trusted:

"The credit for 1441 belongs in large measure to Blair, who saw it as a chance to disarm Saddam in a way that strengthened the UN and preserved the Atlantic alliance. Unfortunately, the consensus behind 1441 has unravelled. Saddam has destroyed some missiles but beyond that he has done only what he thinks is necessary to keep the UN divided on the use of force. The really important issues relating to chemical and biological weapons remain unresolved.

In the face of the foot dragging, hawks in America have been pushing for an immediate attack on Iraq. Some of them want regime change for reasons other than disarmament, and, therefore, they have discredited the inspection process from the beginning; they did not want it to succeed. Because military action probably will require only a few days, they believe the world community will quickly unite on rebuilding Iraq as soon as Saddam is deposed.

On the other side, France, Germany and Russia are adamantly opposed to the use of force or imposing any ultimatum on Saddam as long as the inspectors are working. They believe that, at least as long as the inspectors are there, Iraq will not use or give away its chemical and biological stocks, and therefore, no matter how unhelpful Saddam is, he does not pose a threat sufficient to justify invasion. After 150,000 US forces were deployed to the Gulf, they concluded the US was not willing to give inspections a chance anyway. The problem with their position is that only the threat of force from the US and the UK got inspectors back into Iraq in the first place. Without a credible threat of force, Saddam will not disarm.

Once again, Blair stepped into the breach, with a last-ditch proposal to restore unity to the UN and disarm Saddam without military action. He secured US support for a new UN resolution that would require Saddam to meet dead lines, within a reasonable time, in four important areas, including accounting for his biological and chemical weapons and allowing Iraqi scientists to leave the country for interviews. Under the proposed resolution, failure to comply with this deadline would justify the use of force to depose Saddam.

Russia and France opposed this resolution and said they would veto it, because inspections are proceeding, weapons are being destroyed and there is therefore no need for a force ultimatum. Essentially they have decided Iraq presents no threat even if it never disarms, at least as long as inspectors are there.

The veto threat did not help the diplomacy. It's too bad, because if a majority of the security council had adopted the Blair approach, Saddam would have had no room for further evasion and he still might have disarmed without invasion and bloodshed. Now, it appears that force will be used to disarm and depose him."

And British citizens respond:


Questions over Clinton's judgment

Wednesday March 19, 2003
The Guardian

"For a man who was once the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, Bill Clinton displays an enormous level of naivety if he believes the war on Iraq is a war of disarmament (Trust Tony's judgment, March 18). It is a war about the absolute authority of military power and the ability of one superpower to use it to prosecute its interests. Saddam Hussein is a convenient excuse. The Bush government has shown a breathtaking contempt for any notion of an international order that restricts its power and freedom to manoeuvre."
Russell Davies

And this:

"So Bill Clinton believes that the second resolution meant that Hans Blix and his inspectors would have been given more time and support for their work? He surely knows that all that was proposed was an ultimatum of of a few days? Evidence? How about the immediate US shooting down of the Chilean proposal of a 30-day ultimatum? Clearly what was needed was a fig leaf for the immediate use of force. Sad to see Bill Clinton demeaning himself like this after the cogent article by Jimmy Carter a few days previously."
Alan Calder
Milton Keynes

And finally, this:

" I question the use of the word "war" in the poorly written (if worse argued) piece by Bill Clinton. In every dictionary the word "war" requires two sides to be in armed conflict. Nobody seriously expects that to happen this week. What we are about to see is an invasion."
David Belbin