Transcript of Chrétien interview on A BC's This Week

Owen Byrne owen@permafrost.net
Sun, 09 Mar 2003 15:50:04 -0400


Gary Lawrence Murphy wrote:

>Hey, like, y'know, if you can't attack the ideas ...
>
>They say Europe fell for Freud's vacuous assertions because he was a
>great orator.  Hitler too.
>
>'nuff said.
>
>  
>
Ah, I mostly have no problems with the ideas - just that hearing our 
king speak - and barely capable
of it at that,  reminds me how little democracy there is in this 
country, and that gives me pause
in criticizing the US.

Thankfully his already anointed successor brings more of an air of 
noblesse-oblige.

I think this column sort of captures my opinion of the "Canadian" option 
- a way for Canada
to save face and look good after its too late:

http://www.herald.ns.ca/stories/2003/03/09/fOpinion145.raw.html


> Canadian diplomacy finds its way on Iraq crisis
>
> By Richard Gwyn <mailto:rgwyn@herald.ns.ca>
>
> THE GREAT FEAR of multilateralists is that the United Nations will 
> soon become a house divided against itself and thereafter will become 
> an empty shell.
>
> This division could happen in either of two ways: France could respond 
> to a Security Council vote in favour of the U.S. resolution that 
> effectively calls for war on Iraq by exercising its veto, thus 
> blocking the will of the majority.
>
> Or - the direct opposite - the U.S. could respond to a majority vote 
> against its resolution by ignoring the UN and launching a unilateral 
> attack on Iraq.
>
> Even accepting that columnists, no more than politicians, should never 
> say (or write) never, it's very possible that the UN would never be 
> the same again.
>
> For a long time, at the very least, the U.S. would withdraw from the 
> UN. Its absence would cripple that institution, politically as well as 
> financially. Worse, when the next crisis arises, such as some 
> repetition of the ethnic cleansing horror in Kosovo, the U.S. 
> president will look the other way while all the other UN leaders 
> engage in their usual rounds of talk and bargaining and posturing.
>
> A case can be made that a UN division can be justified because it 
> would be an accurate reflection of international reality.
>
> It matters critically, though, that this division happen in a way that 
> doesn't irrevocably split the U.S. away from the UN. These two are now 
> global Siamese twins. The U.S. needs the UN for legitimacy. The UN 
> needs the U.S. for effectiveness.
>
> Indeed, as chief UN inspector Hans Blix has pointed out himself, such 
> co-operation on weapons destruction as Saddam Hussein has granted so 
> far has happened not because of all the inspectors in Baghdad, but 
> because of the tens of thousands of GIs on Iraq's borders.
>
> Enter, at this fateful juncture, Canada. We are now skipping and 
> hopping and ducking and sliding our way across the battlefield inside 
> the UN.
>
> We haven't been hit yet.
>
> And we're making progress, not so much toward some new compromise 
> resolution - although we do have a draft proposal for one since words 
> on paper are the fuel that the UN machinery functions on - but toward 
> a new attitude about the possibility of compromise that could satisfy 
> everyone.
>
> The exercise now unfolding represents Canadian diplomacy at its best. 
> After a long period in which we appeared to be going nowhere (worse, 
> were going every which way), we are now performing with purpose and 
> exceptional skill.
>
> What's so especially adroit about this policy - credit our UN 
> ambassador Paul Heinbecker for it - is that it challenges, to the 
> minimum extent possible, the interests of the two principal and 
> diametrically opposed players: the U.S. and France. At the same time, 
> it appeals, to the maximum extent possible, to the interests of almost 
> everyone else (including our own interests as ardent multilateralists).
>
> On the one hand, the draft Canadian proposal would give the inspectors 
> more time, thus satisfying France and its allies. It would also, 
> though, require Saddam Hussein to co-operate fully by the end of 
> March, which, if Saddam fails this last test, would still enable the 
> U.S. and its allies to launch an attack before the real hot weather 
> arrives.
>
> On the other hand, the proposal would allow most of the Uncertain Six 
> - Pakistan, Mexico, Angola, Guinea, Cameroon, Chile - to do what they 
> most want to do: back the Canadian compromise to essentially do 
> nothing and so neither annoy the U.S. nor their own publics.
>
> It's improbable that this policy will actually work. U.S. President 
> George Bush shows every sign of intending to go ahead, with or without 
> UN approval.
>
> French President Jacques Chirac is riding a wave of national 
> popularity and so feels no need to back down, as demonstrated by his 
> coolness toward the Canadian compromise.
>
> Nor can the Canadian proposal resolve the problem that, even if Saddam 
> co-operates fully, very few people, not just American hawks, will ever 
> believe he has really surrendered his last canisters of chemical and 
> biological agents rather than hidden them somewhere in Iraq (or 
> outside it) for use as soon as the world's attention wanders elsewhere.
>
> Failure won't diminish what's been achieved. Canada will have 
> reconfirmed the seriousness of our commitment to multilateralism.
>
> And we'll have confirmed that we still have in our foreign service 
> some individuals with uncommon sense and skill.
>
> We've spent too long on the fence to come out of the Iraq crisis 
> looking good. Thanks to Heinbecker, we may yet come out of it looking 
> not bad, as well as thoroughly Canadian.
>
> E-mail: rgwyn@thestar.ca
>



Owen