WAR IS NOT JUSTIFIED, EU CHIEF TELLS US AND BRITAIN
27 Jan 2003
Source: The Telegraph (UK), January 27, 2003
War is not justified, EU chief tells US and Britain
By Rachel Sylvester
Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said yesterday that public opinion in Europe was overwhelmingly opposed to military action in Iraq and urged the US and Britain not to launch a campaign without wider international support.
In an interview with The Telegraph, the EU's high representative for common and foreign security policy said that war would not be justified now.
"Military action represents a failure of diplomacy," he said. "Europeans in big numbers think that the last resort moment has not arrived. I do not think the moment of last resort has arrived."
Warning that military action in Iraq could not be seen as part of the wider war against terrorism, Mr Solana said the UN should be a vehicle for tackling Saddam Hussein. He also rejected the argument by President George W Bush that non-co-operation by the Iraqi leader would classify as a breach of the UN resolution 1441.
"Co-operation with UN weapons inspectors should be total both from Saddam Hussein and from the international community," he said.
"We trust them, we chose them, we gave them a resolution and we have to support them.
"If they say they need more resources then more resources should be given, if they say they need more time more time should be given." Non-co-operation in a "small" way by the Iraqi leader would not justify war, Mr Solana said. "I think it would be far better to have military action with the support of the UN."
Mr Solana, the former Secretary General of Nato, said that there were huge cultural differences between Europe and America and called on President Bush to be more sensitive in the language he used.
"The Europeans and the Americans are cousins, not brothers. Sometimes terminology has a different meaning for different people - 'crusade', for example, means different things to different groups - and if you want to construct a coalition you have to attempt not to step on the feet of anybody.
"You cannot imagine a European leader using a phrase like 'axis of evil'."
American politics, including foreign policy, were, he argued, more influenced by religion than European politics.
"We in Europe are as societies more secular . . . nobody could imagine there being a sentence on the euro which said 'In God we trust' but that's what it says on a dollar. America is a very complex society . . . but sometimes they have a very black and white attitude."
The US was also more unilateralist in its approach than Europe, he said. "Europe has been the territory of war, and we have worked to prevent war through building relations with other countries. The US has never been the territory of war - that's why September 11 was so important: it was the first time their territory had been attacked.
"The European Union is a construction based on sharing sovereignty; the Americans have a much stronger sense of their own sovereignty."
Mr Solana, who masterminded Nato's campaign in Kosovo, warned that military action in Iraq would be far riskier.
"It would be much more difficult and more dangerous," he said. "There would be troops on the ground and yes it is likely that some of them would be killed. The big difference for public opinion is that in Kosovo every citizen of Europe was seeing Milosevic doing ethnic cleansing, there was a clear position of the European countries saying stop that. The problem now is that we don't see Saddam Hussein doing that so people don't have the same sense of anguish."
He also raised questions about whether Iraq was the appropriate target now.
"North Korea is a higher priority in the sense that they already have weapons of mass destruction," he said. "North Korea is a very serious problem that has to be dealt with rapidly."
Mr Solana, 60, a Spaniard, was imprisoned in his youth by Franco for his Socialist views. "I fought him both legally and illegally," he said. "Fighting a dictator is not an evil, it's a duty."
He trained as a scientist, becoming a professor of solid state physics, and his sentences are still littered with metaphors drawn from his original profession.
"I think of Europe as a molecule," he said. "It's a structure in which you can distinguish the atoms; but, at the same time, if you put those atoms together, they become much more active, much more efficient."
Mr Solana, a Fulbright scholar, started his political career in Spain, becoming foreign minister. Then in 1995 he was appointed secretary general of Nato.
Two years ago he was made the EU's foreign policy chief - a new role designed to answer Henry Kissinger's question about who he should call when he wanted to speak to "Europe".
He is responsible for the EU peace-keeping corps and insisted that he had no plans to turn it into a fully fledged military force. "We're not in the business of creating a standing army, with an EU commander fighting under an EU flag. We're not going to have a United States of Europe." Mr Solana also played down the significance of the growing closeness between France and Germany.
"Oh, the Franco-German axis has always existed. But, in a bigger Europe, it will have less influence," he said.
Although he would not be drawn into commenting on the implications of Britain staying out of the euro, he urged the UK to join. "It's a decision that you have to take. For me, it would be a great satisfaction if the UK were to join the euro. I think you will gain if you join."
The high representative is staunchly pro-European, but he is careful not to let his passion run away with him.
"I try to keep a bit of idealism, but I like to apply it in a pragmatic way," he said.
"Perhaps it comes from my profession - in physics, you have to be a visionary, but you know that the solution to the problem has to be found one step at a time."