We call on the United States to avoid attacking Iraq and to continue to go through the United Nations to solve the problem of weapon of mass destruction

Press Statement
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): American President George Bush brands Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the axis of evil. These countries object to the label. North Korea shows that it has no time for Bush who has gritted his teeth. The world is wondering why Bush pursues diplomacy with North Korea. He does not want two wars simultaneously. Any war affects the world economy and causes human misery.

Bush says that for 11 years Iraq has defied UN resolutions. The latter maintains that it has no weapon of mass destruction. It gives a long list of weapons. But, USA and Britain do not believe Iraq.

The White House can decide to strike Iraq even if inspectors do not turn up new evidence against Saddam Hussein. When the US Secretary of Defence Ronald Rumsfeld met Saddam in the 1980s, he did not have that type of suspicion. Now, he and other Bush advisers are asking Nato allies for military support for war against Iraq. How much international support does Bush need before he starts the war?

Meanwhile, USA and Britain are massing troops and military hardware in the Middle East. However, UN Secretary-General Kofi Anand insists that war can be avoided and that UN would continue with arms inspection in Iraq.

What is the difference between Iraq and North Korea? The former is in Middle East and it has the world’s second largest oil reserves. If Iraq is strong militarily, it can upset the balance in the region. On the other hand, North Korea has no substantial oil. Instead, it has intercontinental missiles, nuclear potential and a big army that had experience fighting the US. A war may be protracted as the Korean War in the 1950s. What would the spectre be if North Korea sends its missiles with nuclear warheads to Seoul and Tokyo? Then, USA’s interests in countries surrounding North Korea such as South Korea, Japan, China and Southeast Asia are huge. Despite the posturing and rhetoric on both sides including Secretary of State Collin Powell’s fighting two wars simultaneously and win, can USA afford to upset the applecart without hurting itself and its allies seriously?

USA has a large stimulation package for its sagging economy. How would another war with Iraq help? Its arms manufacturers will benefit. But, it would not want a protracted war.

Hitherto, Bush’s reasons for wanting to attack Iraq are not convincing to many people. France, Germany, Russia and China are not convinced. British Prime Minister Tony Blair becomes Bush’s spokesman. Thus, if America has another war with Iraq, would it be worse than the Vietnam War in the 1960s, culminating in its defeat in the 1070s. American presidents such as Lyndon Johnson were speaking on Vietnam like Bush is doing with Iraq today.

We hope that the Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad try his best to persuade USA against another war in Iraq. The UN should try its utmost to inspect arms in Iraq. At the same time, Iraq should co-operate with the UN team. Now, Iraq insists that it has cooperated in a big way. It yearns to know why USA is not inspecting Israeli arms.

Bush and Blair believe that only showing their strength in the Gulf will Iraq conform with the UN mandate. We hope that they put more trust on the UN.


* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice-Chairman and MP for Kepong