san francisco bay area
santa cruz, ca
process & imc docs
technlogy by cat@lyst and IMC Geeks
The case of the NATO: pacifists or realists?
by The Guardian
11:08am Fri Feb 7 '03
Powell fails to convince Nato waverers
America's hawkish appeal to the UN security council has more effect at home than among its erstwhile European allies
France last night signalled continuing European opposition to a US-led war on Iraq, warning bluntly that Washington's latest evidence against Saddam Hussein was not strong enough to warrant military action.
"We refuse to think that war is inevitable," insisted President Jacques Chirac, apparently scotching hopes that Wednesday's detailed UN security council presentation by Colin Powell would bring key waverers into the American camp.
Mr Chirac, speaking after a phone call to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, urged Baghdad to work with the weapons inspectors and "answer their questions and cooperate more actively."
Germany, the loudest anti-war voice on a deeply divided continent, also stuck by its appeal for a peaceful solution to the crisis, rejecting as "rubbish" American criticism that its stance put it on a par with Libya and Cuba.
Opposition politicians warned that the remarks, by the hawkish US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, heralded a deepening rift in already tense relations between Washington and Berlin.
"The dangers of a military action and its consequences are plain to see," said the German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. "We must continue to seek a peaceful solution to this crisis."
The US secretary of state's 80-minute performance in New York also failed to work in Brussels, where Nato again put off a key decision on defending Turkey during a war with Iraq.
George Robertson, Nato's British secretary general, said after the ambassadors' meeting - the third in as many weeks - that he was confident the 19-member alliance would agree on a list of modest defensive planning measures by next Monday.
But their inability to accede to a list of US requests fuelled the sense that a damaging transatlantic split persists even after Mr Powell's detailed and keenly awaited address.
Belgium said it still opposed any decision on deploying force. Louis Michel, its foreign minister, called for a summit of all 15 EU member states, the 13 candidate countries, including Turkey, and Arab states. Luxembourg, which had previously been in the "no" camp, quietly defected to the Nato majority.
"This is progress," said one official. "There are now 16 on one side and three on the other. We think the alliance will do the right thing."
Germany, France and Belgium all argued yesterday that war preparations were premature and that the UN inspectors need more time to finish their job of trying to verify Iraq's disarmament of suspected weapons of mass destruction.
The Nato measures merely order planners to prepare the deployment to Turkey of Patriot air defence missiles, Awacs early warning aircraft and chemical and biological warfare defence units.
That will begin unless any member objects by next Monday morning in a procedure that allows governments to reconsider or face peer pressure if they decide to use their veto. But operational deployment will still require debate and full consensus.
Washington requested last month that the allies open their air space, ports, military bases and refuelling facilities to US forces as well as taking measures to protect Turkey.
It also suggested post-war humanitarian and peacekeeping missions in Iraq.
The proposals call too for allies to defend US bases in Europe and replace troops sent to the Gulf from peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo. Lord Robertson described the measures as "prudent, deterrent and defensive".
The Nato meeting, originally scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed until yesterday on the assumption that Mr Powell's speech would persuade doubters to get off the fence. Turkey, the only Nato member bordering Iraq, has appealed to the alliance to protect it against attack by President Saddam.
Few believe the alliance, snubbed by Washington after the September 11 terrorist attacks, will play more than a supporting role. The US is determined to avoid another "war by committee", as it experienced in Kosovo. Nato as a whole is unlikely to be prepared to fight.
add your comments