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The Rediff Interview/Karl F Inderfurth
March 31, 2003
Former deputy US permanent representative to the United Nations Security Council Karl F Inderfurth has been a close observer of diplomatic manoeuvring at the United Nations, and understands what deliberations would have gone on over Iraq.
Inderfurth, assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs in the Clinton administration, also feels American diplomacy failed in its efforts to bring the international community together on Iraq.
While most of the anger was being vented against France, both India and Pakistan and others in the international community argued strongly in favour of the UN route and made it clear that they would prefer if Saddam Hussein was disarmed after a clear-cut UN mandate. How will this affect US relations with India and Pakistan in the future since these relationships have been on the upswing as never before?
Then we started losing all that support and sympathy after 9/11 so that not too long after that terrible event we are standing alone. Something happened. How could we have gone from such a position of strength in the international community to virtual isolation? This to me says the administration should do some soul-searching after the war, do some soul-searching to say what can we do to re-engender international cohesion and support.
President Bush was quoted as saying at his press conference in the Azores that after the invasion of Iraq perhaps the UN should begin to get its legs of responsibility back. I believe the US after the invasion of Iraq should also look to see how it can get its legs of leadership back because clearly we have lost something in the process.
This Bush doctrine of pre-emption, this new paradigm of regime change -- what does it do to the world?
So after Iraq, I am sure the administration will recognise there is business that must be attended to with respect to North Korea. Now, how will it proceed? Will it proceed with the international community? Will it listen to the calls of countries like Japan, China and Russia that in this case the US should deal directly with North Korea? But the administration so far has been unwilling to take that step.
Then the question is: What about the other part of the axis of evil, Iran? There are reports that Iran is moving forward with its nuclear programme. The Iranians say it is for civilian purposes. Many in the administration are saying they (Iran) are pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. What does that mean? Are you going to do that (deal with Iran) on the basis of a doctrine of pre-emption or are we going to work with the international community?
Once you have raised this -- what had been considered merely an option for any country -- if it is to be attached to pre-emptively respond, once you have raised an option to the status of a doctrine, then you have a major international debate and concern about the implications.
Photograph: Jason Huffine/US Marine Corps/Getty Images; Design: Dominic Xavier
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