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Cablegate: Media Play: Sri Lankan Columnist Says U.S.,

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 001551

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/MR, I/RW, I/REC; PA SA/INS (CAMP,
WALLER), SA/PD (SCHWARTZ, SCENSNY), SSA/PAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR OIIP CE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY: SRI LANKAN COLUMNIST SAYS U.S.,
"BOGGED DOWN IN IRAQ, CRAWLS BACK TO UN"

In a 9/7 iteration of his weekly piece, "Inside the glass
house" Sri Lankan columnist Thalif Deen virulently attacked
U.S. policy in Iraq. The column, subtitled "Bogged down in
Iraq, US crawls back to UN," says that the U.S., which "did
not need the blessings of the United Nations to go into
Iraq," is now "facing the hard reality that it needs the
United Nations -- just to get out of Iraq." But, Deen
argues, "there will be hard political bargaining behind
closed doors before any resolution sees the light of day,"
with the French and the Germans, plus, possibly, the Arab
League and the NAM, leading the opposition. The column
closes: "Amidst all this hoopla, nobody has bothered to
ask whether the Iraqis would really welcome a multinational
peacekeeping force. Or will this force also go the way of
the US-British coalition?"

2. "Bogged down in Iraq, US crawls back to UN" follows
verbatim:

Quote.

NEW YORK-- As the world's only superpower, the US did not
need the blessings of the United Nations to go into Iraq.
But six bloodied months later, it is facing the hard
reality that it needs the United Nations-- just to get out
of Iraq.

The US is looking for an escape route out of a growing
military quagmire in Iraq where 140,000 American troops are
now bogged down in a war of attrition. Madeleine Albright,
a former US Secretary of State and an ex-US ambassador to
the United Nations, says that the Bush administration once
dismissed the world body as "bureaucratic, ineffective,
undemocratic, anti-US and irrelevant".

So why is the US crawling back to the United Nations
seeking assistance from an Organisation it despised? To
gradually get its soldiers out of an increasingly deadly
country where Americans are dying at an average of about
one per day? To get international economic assistance for
the reconstruction of Iraq?

All of this -- and more. The war on Iraq -- and
particularly its disastrous aftermath -- has turned out to
be one of the Bush administration's biggest foreign policy
debacles.

One newspaper called the new US appeal to the UN a
"humiliating" experience for the White House.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his neo-conservative
hardliners in the Bush administration were the primary
architects behind the war. They were right in describing
the war as a "cake walk" -- lining up some of the world's
most sophisticated weapons against a militarily weak,
sanctions-hit country.

But they were dead wrong in assuming that in post-war Iraq
American troops will be welcomed with "rose petals" in the
streets of Baghdad. The "rose petals" have turned out to
be car bombs, landmines and explosive incendiary devices.

While the US is still scrambling to put together an
international peace keeping force -- described as "a
coalition of the willing" -- the speculation is that there
is already "a coalition of the willing" of all the world's
terrorist groups who have assembled in Iraq to turn the
country into a shooting gallery.

President Bush's decision to return to the UN is also a
defeat for Rumsfeld and a morale booster for Secretary of
State Colin Powell. Dangling carrots before the Security
Council, the US last week tried to win support for a new UN
resolution for a multi-national peacekeeping force in Iraq
by pledging a time-table for elections and the restoration
of sovereignty to the Iraqi people currently under American
military occupation.

After speaking to key members of the Security Council --
including France, Russia and Germany -- Powell told
reporters that the proposed resolution will not only call
for a new multinational force but also provide a specific
time frame for elections in Iraq.

According to the US, the new force will be under a unified
US military command, not a UN command. But there will be
hard political bargaining behind closed doors before any
resolution sees the light of day.

The strongest opposition is expected to come from France
whose President, Jacques Chirac, says the resolution does
not go far enough. Germany, a close ally of France in the
Security Council, is equally hesitant. German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroder, who like Chirac opposed the US war on
Iraq, is once again backing France against the US.

Both countries want an end to the military occupation, full
sovereignty to the Iraqi people and a larger political
authority to the UN to rebuild the war-ravaged country. If
the US refuses to accede to French demands, the two
countries may be heading on a collision course in the
Security Council: a replay of an earlier dispute between
the two veto wielding members.

The US was forced to go to war with Iraq without UN
authorisation because France threatened to exercise its
veto. But so far Chirac has not made any threats. The US
has already indicated it wants the new resolution adopted
before President Bush visits the UN to address the General
Assembly sessions on Sep. 23. But that may seem too
optimistic and ambitious -- unless Washington caves into
French and German demands.

The 119-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the largest
single Third World political body at the UN, has not taken
a stand on the creation of a new multinational force
primarily because 22 Arab states who are members of NAM are
abiding by a decision taken by the League of Arab States on
the aftermath of the war on Iraq.

The League has refused to recognise both the legitimacy of
the Iraqi Governing Council -- whose 25 members have been
described as US "puppets" -- or the US military occupation
of Iraq. Amidst all this hoopla, nobody has bothered to
ask whether the Iraqis would really welcome a multinational
peacekeeping force. Or will this force also go the way of
the US-British coalition?

End quote.

3. Comment. Deen's column, "Inside the glass house,"
appears weekly in the SUNDAY TIMES (independent English
weekender). The TIMES is published by the Wijeya Group,
publishers of the DAILY MIRROR (independent English daily),
LANKADEEPA (independent Sinhala daily), and SUNDAY
LANKADEEPA (independent Sinhala weekender). The Wijeya
Groups newspapers are among the most respected in Sri
Lanka. Nevertheless, Deen's column is resolutely anti-
American.

Lunstead

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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