Cover

CANADA’S VOICE ON AMERICA’S WAR

Graham supports the U.S. battle against terrorism, but only if the rest of the world helps set the rules

March 10 2003
Cover

CANADA’S VOICE ON AMERICA’S WAR

Graham supports the U.S. battle against terrorism, but only if the rest of the world helps set the rules

March 10 2003

CANADA’S VOICE ON AMERICA’S WAR

Cover

Graham supports the U.S. battle against terrorism, but only if the rest of the world helps set the rules

AS THE U.S. and Britain move closer to war with Iraq, Canada continues to work behind the scenes to heal deep divisions within the UN over what to do about Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Under an initiative still being pushed by Ottawa last week, Saddam would face a March 28 deadline to disarm or face possible military action to remove him from power. The U.S. and Britain have both turned down the plan, but Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham says a broader consensus is needed if the UN is to heal its divisive split. In an interview with Maclean’s World Editor Tom Fennell, Graham discussed the growing UN impasse, Canada’s military role in the region and Washington’s claims that the U.S. can bring democracy to the Middle East by installing a new government in Baghdad.

Canada’s proposal of a March 28 deadline appears to be reasonable-it would give weapons inspectors more time while not leaving Saddam in power indefinitely. Why were the Americans so quick to dismiss it?

If Colin Powell asked me I would say to him, “Look, you want the world community speaking to Saddam Hussein, and clearly indicating there are consequences.” So I don’t understand why the U.S. would not be willing to consider it in that light.

Is the proposal dead?

It’s alive as a series of ideas that were put forward by us. The Mexicans, who have a seat on the Security Council, have indicated formally and publicly they could use the plan to try to bring the parties together so the Security Council can come out of this united.

Bush has said that toppling Saddam could help spread democracy from Morocco to

Bahrain. What are your views on that?

It’s a remarkably attractive vision for the world. But it can’t be the U.S. out there by itself seeking to achieve this. It has to be done in a way that allows the multilateral community to work on it together. Which reinforces our belief that the UN and the Security Council remain key to achieving American foreign policy objectives.

What impact would a democratic Iraq have on the region?

Iraq makes it hard for other states to become more democratic because it’s in a state of self-defence all the time. So a democratic Iraq will de-escalate tensions in the region and allow other states to develop more democratic institutions. It will also be a model to others to show how democracy works.

What can you say about efforts behind the scenes to convince Sadaam to leave?

I know from having talked to various Arab foreign ministers that many would be happy to see him go. But I don’t think they were ever able to get unanimity within the Arab League itself to officially endorse that. It’s a very delicate proposition.

Where does Canada fit into the U.S. view of the post-Sept 11 world?

When the U.S. speaks of human rights and of helping breathe democracy into places where dictators reign, Canada supports that. Where we differ is the way in which we go about doing it. Canada is cognizant of the role of multilateral institutions because that’s the way in which you can bring in other voices. So we’re with the U.S. program, but we have our own views about how best to achieve it.

Did Canada strike a deal with the U.S. to send almost 1,500 troops to Afghanistan in what could become a combat role?

It wasn’t a deal or anything else. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld raised the problem earlier and there’s no question that Canada’s decision to step in to fill this military gap is an important contribution to both the Americans, who wish to see a more stable Afghanistan, and the Europeans. I think we’re playing a very good role in the country, because we’re satisfying an important peacekeeping mission and we’re doing something that we’re uniquely qualified to do.

There are reports of the Taliban and al-Qaeda regrouping in Afghanistan. Canada could end up battling these groups as the Americans pacify Iraq.

This is not a mission without risk. Some voices have said, “Oh, we’re going to Afghanistan and not to Iraq.” I think that’s denigrating the seriousness of the Afghan contribution and risk. This is a mission in

which the skills of our soldiers will be called upon in many ways. Not just in being excellent people who don’t shy away from a fight; they also can step in and work with local people. But if we allow Afghanistan to fall back, we’ll be running the risk of exactly what happened before when the Taliban ran it.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated bluntly that the U.S. and Britain will deal with North Korea after Saddam is removed. How realistic is that?

Given its missile capacity and potential nuclear capacity, Korea is a threat to peace and stability. There is some suggestion that the North Korean issue will come to the Security Council. Whether it would choose to go the route of sanctions remains to be seen. The Korean issue does demonstrate the need to preserve the integrity of the Security Council and that’s why the Canadian proposal on Iraq seeks to achieve the preservation of the council as an important institution of global governance.

Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish called Americans “bastards.” How deep are anti-American feelings running in the government?

The Liberal party represents Canadian public opinion pretty well. Most of us subscribe to the view that the U.S. is our best friend, but there are times when we take different approaches to problems. This is the single voice of one MP. Most disagreed with what she said, and I haven’t met a member of the Liberal party who thought she made sense.

Canada is boosting military spending by $800 million a year. Many analysts say that’s not nearly enough if we intend to play a meaningful role internationally.

The increased funding is a recognition of the fact that we need to rebuild our military. But security in a world where terrorism is your enemy isn’t just your armed services. A new batdeship, at hundreds of millions of dollars, is not going to solve the terrorist problem. Our aid policy also addresses terrorism, in a sense that it reduces poverty where terrorism is bred by despondency and despair. Iiül