United Nations opinion swings against Bush's war
The UN Security Council opened its forum to the representatives of non- Security Council members last week. This process was proposed by the Non- Aligned Movement to give other countries an opportunity to express their views on the key issue of war or peace. One after another, the overwhelming number of governments ruled out a pre- emptive strike by the US, Britain and Australia and called for the issues to be entrusted to the United Nations to resolve without war. China's Xinhua news agency reported that "support for a peaceful solution to the Iraqi issue continued to build up at the United Nations [last week] when more members called for further inspections against a rush to war". The Egyptian Ambassador to the UN said at the meeting, "Resolution 1441 had been implemented satisfactorily. Two briefings by the chief inspectors had described success in a very short period of time, and further success was promised in the upcoming period. "The inspection process must be supported and continue, without interruption or rigid deadlines. The repercussions of armed conflict for the Middle East and the whole world made it imperative to work with diligence, patience and determination towards a peaceful settlement." The Swiss UN Ambassador said he did not think the moment for the use of force had come and his government dreaded the consequences for the civilian population of a military operation. "The resort to force could only be envisaged after all peaceful means to find a solution to the crisis had been exhausted. In any case, the use of force must be authorised by a Council resolution", he said. Malaysia's UN Ambassador supported the proposal by France on the need to increase the human and technical capacities of the inspection teams as well as their intention to request another meeting at the ministerial level on March 14 to appraise the situation and progress made. The United States and Britain, both feverishly advocating prompt military action in Iraq, could only find partial support from a small number of countries including Macedonia and Nicaragua. Japan and Australia were among the very small number of countries fully supportive of Bush's war agenda. Diplomats at the UN believe growing opposition at the United Nations, compounded with global protests for peace, could complicate Washington's diplomatic manoeuvres to push for a second resolution backing war with Iraq. Before the extended UN debate, a number of Asian countries called for a peaceful resolution. Their voices are getting clearer and louder. In Pakistan, a country in the forefront of the US-led anti-terrorist war, the Government has reiterated that the Iraq crisis should be resolved through peaceful means. President Musharraf, during a talk with President Bush, clearly said that it would be much better to resolve differences on Iraq through talks or diplomacy." India, took a similar stand. Defence Minister George Fernandes, when asked if the United States had sought India's support on the Iraq issue said, "India cannot support. How can India support?" Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said, "We have no military and financial strength but we can join the world movement to oppose war on moral grounds, about how bad it is to use war to settle a problem." Malaysia's Vice President Hamzah Haz urged the United States to cancel its plan to launch an attack on Iraq, saying, "If the United States attacks Iraq, many countries will isolate it." Indonesia's Foreign Minister said, "For the Indonesian government, the US intelligence data are 'indicative' that need further authentication by the UN weapons inspectors. We are keen to prioritise a peace solution." Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are two other Asian nations also speaking up for a peaceful, negotiated solution. The extended discussion before the UN Security Council and the views of other nations have been almost totally ignored by the Australian media.