Cablegate: Media Play: Iraq
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000463
DEPT FOR INR/R/MR, I/RW, I/REC; PA
SA/INS (FOR JWALLER); SA/PAB SA/RA (FOR SCENSNY)
SA/PD LJIRWIN, WREINCKENS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR OIIP CE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY: IRAQ
1. On 3/20 the ISLAND (opposition daily, islandwide
circulation) said "there is no doubt which way the war will
go," but predicted that it will not only "bring about
radical changes in the politics of ... the Middle East but
... will also turn the new political order ... topsy
turvy," as the "the democratic idealism that gradually came
to the forefront in US foreign policy [is] ... replaced
with sheer militarism and disregard for international law
and the UN." The ISLAND concludes: "the world can only
hope that what is happening is an aberration."
2. Block quotes:
It's all over but the shouting. George Bush and Tony Blair
are marching to war but there are no delirious cries of
patriotic fervour from their countrymen, no ringing
assurances of support from their allies, no support from
nations that have had good relations with the two warring
nations and certainly very strong opposition being
expressed in the Islamic world.
Paradoxically, Saddam Hussein whom the American President
wants to drive out of power is by no means a person liked
and loved by even a very few, save his own cohorts. The
reign of terror during which he has held the Iraqi people
in bondage, the unwanted wars he had brought upon the
country - the over ten years of war with Iran and the
invasion of Kuwait - have left the country in shambles and
its people in untold misery. They have been suffering
under UN imposed sanctions for over a decade. But a war is
being opposed by the great majority of nations and
naturally by the Iraqis. They most probably want Saddam
Hussein out but not a war. This war could make Saddam
Hussein, truly a Satyr, into a Martyr.
There is no doubt which way the war will go. The Daily
Telegraph report from the Kuwait - Iraq border (see page 8)
said the stark choices for the Iraqi soldiers in the
battlefield are to: run, surrender or die fighting. The
last chance for diplomacy is over. The United States,
Britain and Spain on Monday announced that they were
withdrawing a draft resolution submitted to the UN Security
Council which authorised the automatic use of force and
which was likely to be rejected by the UN. Later, President
Bush in an address to the nation called upon President
Saddam Hussein to leave his country within 48 hours or face
war that will start `at a time of our choosing'
This war is not only bound to bring about radical changes
in the politics of Iraq and that of the Middle East but it
will also turn the new political order that was taking
shape after the Cold War, topsy turvy.
For over a century, western European nations and the United
States have been working as allies and in close political
and economic collaboration having fought two World Wars and
been united for half a century in the Cold War against the
Having triumphed in the Cold War, during the past decade
they have been working very closely as allies, attempting
to forge a new international order. Whether, it was a
multi-polar world that was being forged or a uni-polar
world during the past decade, there was little doubt that
co-operation and understanding between the Atlantic
Alliance remained unshaken. But with the advent of
President Bush, there appears to have been much bulldozing
in foreign policy and finally the issue of war on Iraq has
rendered them apart.
America's European allies, France and Germany, particularly
France, have stood firmly against a war on Iraq without the
sanction of the UN Security Council. President Chirac in a
very strongly worded statement on Monday said that most of
the recent debates in the UN have shown that the Security
Council was not prepared to, under present circumstances,
to approve a precipitate march to war and that there was no
justification for unilateral decision to resort to war.
President Chirac in oblique ways said that the US was
ignoring international law and appealed to every one to
ensure the respect of international legality.
This kind of unilateral action was not possible at the time
of the existence of the other superpower, the Soviet Union
but even after its demise both President Bush's father and
President Bill Clinton preferred multi-lateralism and
sought to work through the UN. The Bush (Snr) in his war
with Saddam Hussein worked in accordance with UN Security
Council resolutions and was able to bring together a
coalition of nations including those of Arab hardline
nations such as Syria led by the late President Assad.
Today, if Bush (Jnr) goes to war he will have only two
other leaders - British and Spanish Prime Ministers - with
him and even then there is strong opposition to the war in
those countries, three cabinet ministers resigning from
Tony Blair's cabinet and a 139 Labour members voting for a
motion against the war.
Now that the war seems inevitable the question to be posed
is: After the War, what?
What would concern the entire world is whether the
democratic idealism that gradually came to the forefront in
US foreign policy in the last few decades, despite
emergence of Cold war presidents like Reagan, will be
replaced with sheer militarism and disregard for
international law and the UN. The world can only hope that
what is happening is an aberration.