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Home > News > Interview

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.

Now a professor of international affairs at George Washington University, Inderfurth told Washington Editor Aziz Haniffa that the Bush administration should do some soul-searching after the war with 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?

I think both India and Pakistan took a responsible view toward what was taking place in the Security Council. Both recognised the need for and the requirement for Saddam Hussein to disarm, but both wanted this to be done under the auspices of the UN Security Council, as did many people and many nations. Pakistan was in an even more difficult position because it was a member of the Security Council and clearly pressure was brought to bear on members of the Council to vote in favour of the second resolution.

The decision by the US, Britain and Spain to withdraw the second resolution certainly got Pakistan off the hook in the Security Council.

I did see that earlier President Musharraf confessed how fortunate Pakistan was to be elected a member of the Security Council at this particular time. But he was quoted as saying recently that now we are really thinking whether we should have been happy being a member. There is no question that Pakistan was in a very difficult position but the fact that the vote was not called was probably the best thing for many countries that would have been in that difficult position. It got Pakistan and other countries off the hook.

President Bush called President Musharraf twice to lay on the pressure. Then carrots were offered to Pakistan like the withdrawal of sanctions just before the anticipated second resolution was to be introduced.

I think one can also make the case that the sanctions being lifted had as much to do with the continuing cooperation by Pakistan on the war on terrorism and the recent capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad as it did on trying to persuade Pakistan's vote on the Iraq issue. Again, I think it was probably to the benefit of Pakistan and several other countries that President Bush did not do what he said he would do, which was to force everyone to show their cards.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the policy being articulated by the US in the war against terrorism and the message to the international community was: You are either with us or against us. This policy seems to have been replicated in the campaign against Iraq reminiscent of the Cold War's policy of good guys and bad guys...

This is also another part of the tragedy of the failure at the UN. The US had the international community almost universally on our side after 9/11. We had sympathy and support. Over a period of time that has dissipated because while we have continued the war on terror the Bush administration has attempted to expand the horizons of the war in ways the international community either does not agree with or did not feel comfortable with.

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?

It gives the world a great deal of concern about what next. There is already a crisis at work with North Korea. It is about to do those things that we only fear that Saddam Hussein may be able to do many years from now, namely, produce nuclear weapons on a monthly basis.

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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I was shocked to read this artical .It seems that the writer of this artical is not a American .and he does not understande his ...

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I overheard a few old men speaking among themselves in the church. "Let there be a place on earth where the common man unconcerned with ...

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This article is self-explanatory! And it is from someone who is sound, unlike the US Administration. But there was a recent article in the Indian ...

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