Key Sharon Advisor says America and Britain made Right Decision on Iraq
J. Sean Curtin (Fellow, GLOCOM)
In a seismic shift of US foreign policy, President George W. Bush has given his full backing to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's controversial unilateral disengagement plan. This has caused intense international debate and has far reaching implications for Japanese foreign policy in the region, including Iraq. In early April, Zalman Shoval, an advisor to Prime Minister Sharon and a former Israeli Ambassador to the US (1990-93 & 1998-2000), delivered a keynote speech in London during which he gave a detailed outline of Sharon's Middle East vision. This article is the second installment of the speech.
Ambassador Zalman Shoval:
Now, the link between Iraq and the Palestinian-Israeli equation is that part of the Palestinian leadership we are dealing with understood, some hopefully, some fearfully, that only with America's support – the other side of the coin being American pressure – would the Palestinians have a chance to realize at least part of their aspirations.
The reverse side of this [equation] is perception, [including] even false ones. In the Middle East perceptions are sometimes more important than facts. If the perception of American policy, and policy aims in the region as a whole, are seen as in trouble this could have made, and perhaps already did make, the Palestinians more adamant than before, not more tractable, especially as Yasser Arafat has succeeded in practically eliminating any Palestinian leaders who will talk [to Israel].
As to Iraq, I won't go into that in length. We all witnessed the sometimes acrimonious debate going on, especially in Europe. Let's start with the United States about the justification for the war in Iraq. Let me just say that for us, the way we see/saw it in Israel, this was a most just and necessary war, not only because of Saddam Hussein's support for terror, not only because of his brutality and not only because his regime, the Baath Party, had intentionally/deliberately modeled themselves on the Nazi ideology of national sovereign socialism in German. But also [because of] the debate about weapons of mass destruction.
I grant you that America and Britain perhaps didn't do a very good public relations job. It should have been regime change. It should have been regime change and not the bomb in the attic. But after all, Iraq did have and did use weapons of mass destruction. They had chemical weapons of mass destruction. They were working on biological weapons of mass destruction. One interesting fact which has not always been sufficiently appreciated is that Iraq contrary to Iran by the way – at least Iran in the beginning – did have in-house in Iraq the scientific and technological capacity to produce at least a dirty nuclear bomb. Now whether they would have done it or not, whether they would have sold it to rogue states or terrorist organizations, I couldn't say. But they certainly had the know-how and they had the money. With the United Nations increasingly looking away, as we now know, billions of dollars were siphoned off the Oil for Food program. Who knows what that money would have been used for?
Therefore, I believe that America and Britain did make the right decision. Of course, there are many repercussions from this and many things will still have to be worked out. I would say that in parts of the Middle East, we sometimes feel that this debate is often politicized, less so perhaps in America where a considerable majority of Americans, more than 62 percent, still support the Iraq war. But it has become a political hot potato which is understandable in the democratic world. Sometime people lose sight, I think, of the real facts.
The first part of this speech can be found here
The above transcript is based on a presentation given at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London on 1 April 2004.
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