JUNE 2003


International peace and security is at stake following the Iraq invasion

The US invasion of Iraq has ostensibly ended after overthrowing Saddam Hussein and his regime. And the whereabouts of the former Iraqi  leader and possibility of a comeback if he is still alive are no longer relevant considerations following the collapse of the Iraqi government.

Therefore, the immediate question is how it can be reconstructed and normal life restored amid the chaos.This is clearly the responsibility of the US and its so-called ‘coalition,’ which are in physical control of the country.

The US and its allies will have to ensure the establishment of a civil administration, maintain law and order, restore a lasting Iraqi political administration to succeed the Saddam regime, and cope with the aspirations of local cultural and religious movements – such as the Shiites and Sunnis.

What’s more, they would have to gain the support of the Arab world, act in accordance with the UN mandate on Iraq and secure the favour of the European coalition, as well as the international community in general.

The US took an important step with the appointment of retired Army Lieutenant General Jay Garner as the civil administrator who’s been tasked with restoring normal life in the country. With this end in view, he had invited local leaders to consider the formation of an interim government in which all parties could participate.

Garner has also undertaken a programme for administrative and economic reconstruction with the establishment of a number of key ministries under Iraqi officials, and launching a programme for oil and gas production.

Addressing a meeting of Iraqi academics and administrators, he noted: “Our purpose here in your country is to create an environment for you so that we can begin a process of government that leads to a democratic form in Iraq.”

Therefore, the US endeavour is to establish an Iraqi national government that will be entrusted with power. But whether this is feasible, given the infighting and internal rivalries in the country – quite apart from the interference by its Arab neighbours – is concerning.

There is also the social and economic rehabilitation of the country, which needs to be pursued to transform it from the state of chaos it is in following the invasion.

This will require massive and continuous programmes of foreign aid. For the destruction caused to historical and archaeological treasures of the past, in a land that is home to one of the earliest civilisations on Earth, this invasion is a crime against humanity.

At the same time, it’s a deadly blow to the international ethos of our time as represented by the UN and there is room to believe that it’s irreparable in context of the future of our global society.

The Iraqi invasion appears to portend a salient trend in US foreign policy militating towards asserting itself internationally. A similar crisis is in the offing as seen in the challenge posed by the alleged nuclear development plans announced by North Korea.

These are not unlike the threats of nuclear weapons once posed by Iraq, and the US has reacted by discussing the subject directly with Pyongyang.

However, a bilateral meeting between US representatives and the North Koreans, which was held in Beijing, ended abruptly with a walkout by the latter accompanied by threats of proceeding with its programme to develop nuclear weapons.

Another direction of US policy is seen in the interest it’s showing in South Asia… especially its close relations with India. This was marked by the visit of US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to India and Pakistan. The occasion for this visit was to convey the US’ desire to help ease tensions between the two countries as a result of Kashmir.

America’s recent support for the Sri Lankan government regarding the peace process and the LTTE is another effort to seek strategic support in South Asia.

In the Middle East, the US is facing strong opposition from Arab countries due to the invasion of Iraq. However, it is more concerned about the attitude of Syria and Iran, and has warned the Syrians in particular against providing shelter to officials of the Saddam regime or supplying them with arms.

In fact, the US may consider punitive action against Syria since it was once considered a member of ‘the axis of evil.’

What is most frightening is the situation regarding international peace and security due to the lethal blow that the Iraqi operation has dealt the UN. How the international community will cope with this crisis is the issue upon which it is no exaggeration to say the future of humanity will depend.

BY  The late Deshamanya Dr. Vernon L. B. Mendis