The recent aggressiveness shown by a Bush administration which faces its toughest diplomatic test to date has provoked waves of criticism and praise not only from the international community but also at home.
The decision to use the United Nations as the proper and unique legal forum with the jurisdiction to manage the crisis in the Gulf was a welcome move at a time when it was feared that the USA would adopt a “go-it-alone” policy, much hinted at by Vice President Richard (Dick) Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Such was made clear by Canadian Foreign Minister William Graham, who declared on Friday that “We had asked Bush to take the problem to the UNO because we recognise that Iraq has violated fundamental obligations it has with this organisation and it is this organisation that has the responsibility to make these obligations respected”.
Graham’s comments come immediately after Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien stated on Canadian TV channel CBC that the western world is becoming increasingly rich, while the developing world becomes poorer and poorer and this is “idiotic” in a world where the 11th September happened so recently. He did not mention the speech delivered by President Bush at the UNO but it is clear that the choice to give diplomacy a chance pleases Ottawa, after Chretien had asked the USA to present evidence that Saddam Hussein was developing Weapons of Mass Destruction.
On the other hand, Jody Williams, the Nobel Peace Prizewinner of 1997, has criticised President Bush as being the worst and “most frightening” in the country’s history, since his vision of international crisis management is in two colours – black and white. She termed an eventual unilateral military invasion of Iraq “a violation of international law” which would place the US government firmly in the “axis of evil” countries.
Jody Williams also pointed out that the USA is the only western country not to have signed the anti-personnel mines document, banning the deployment of this weapon which claims between 15,000 and 20,000 civilian lives every year and which has been responsible for 100,000 mutilations in Angola alone.
Claiming that the USA’s vision of multi-lateralism is “you must all accept our point of view”, Jody Williams denounced the fear in the international community of antagonising the United States.
One thing is clear. However natural it is for the United States to feel revulsion at the horrendous terrorist strike on September 11th, the purposeful mixing of the issue of international terrorism with Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath regime is dangerously simplistic, wholly untrue and a manipulation of public opinion not attempted since the days of Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru