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War could result in new world order, diplomat says

Last Updated: March 13, 2003

Much more is at stake in the bitter debate over Iraq than disarming Saddam Hussein because the choices made in countering terrorism will have long-term consequences that could include the emergence of a new international order, a veteran diplomat said Thursday.

The United Nations and NATO almost certainly will be different, said Arnold Kanter, who was an undersecretary of state and special assistant to the president for national security affairs before joining the Scowcroft Group consulting firm as a founder in the early 1990s.

Nations in Europe and elsewhere are having to choose sides for or against U.S. policy while Germany and France maneuver to become Europe's dominant leader, he said.

And with the United States saying it is necessary to wage pre-emptive wars, there are concerns about whether the U.S. will use its military dominance to make such decisions collaboratively or imperiously in the future, Kanter said.

Kanter was one of four speakers at the Pabst Theater on Thursday afternoon at the annual Kennan Forum on International Issues, run by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The theme was "If You Want Peace . . . Prepare for War?"

The others included Marc Grossman, a top State Department official who formerly served as ambassador to Turkey; Matthew Rothschild, editor of the Progressive magazine, a Madison-based voice for peace and social justice; and former U.S. Rep. Tom Barrett, who was asked on barely an hour's notice to fill in after Linda Fasulo, NBC's U.N. correspondent, canceled her appearance to cover developments at the U.N.

Kanter, who said he was taking an objective, analytical stance, stressed how difficult the Iraq problem is. It is the subject of legitimate debate, and anyone who thinks they know the answers does not appreciate the issues, he said.

Grossman, undersecretary of state for political affairs, argued that the U.S. has been trying to go through the U.N. instead of acting on its own, but that people have to appreciate that Iraq is the nexus where terrorists, technology and weapons of mass destruction meet.

He argued that the Cold War doctrine of containment, with a strong military deterrence that sometimes must be used, remained valid.

He said U.S. leaders hoped that their military buildup in the Middle East would force Hussein to finally disarm.

Asked in an interview whether this was a historic moment of change, he said, "I think we're at a historic watershed not so much in terms of defining the response, but in defining the threat. And it is clear to me that there is a new threat in this world, and the threat is international terrorism carried out anywhere at any time, combined with the questions of weapons of mass destruction.

"And so, how we organize ourselves to deal with that threat is a new question. Whether that changes everything, I don't know. We've succeeded thus far in terms of the war on terrorism with the institutions that we have."

Rothschild argued that preparing for war failed in Vietnam and produced a reckless game of chicken during the Cuban missile crisis. "If you want peace," he said, "work for peace."

He said that Hussein had not been shown to be a serious threat to the U.S., that it was clear that President Bush has been planning all along to wage war, and that such a war would be unconstitutional and would violate the U.N. charter unless supported by the Security Council.

A version of this story appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 14, 2003.



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