|This presentation appears in the June 6, 2003 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
The World Situation
After The Iraq War
by Natwar Singh
Natwar Singh, former Union Minister of India and Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement, gave the opening speech on May 26, 2003, to a conference held in Bangalore, India, preceding U.S. Presidential pre-candidate Lyndon LaRouche's keynote.
Chandrajit Yadav, Moderator: Natwar Singh is Member of Parliament and of Congress Party Working Committee. He was chairman of the Congress Party Foreign Affairs Committee. He was, in our Foreign Service, one of the ablest Foreign Service officials. But, I think that he never felt very comfortable there. He knew that perhaps, bureaucracy comes in the way of being in direct contact with the people; then he decided to come and join a particular party. He is a very important member of the Congress Party. He was the Secretary General of NAM movement [Non-Aligned Movement], when NAM movement conference took place in Delhi [in 1983], when Mrs. Indira Gandhi was the chairperson of the NAM movement.
I was also very much involved, on behalf of our party in the movement; and I could see Natwar Singh working, I think, 24 hours, on account there were so many forces working to break the New Delhi Non-Aligned Movement conference. But, Natwar Singh, under the guidance of Indira Gandhi, worked day and night, and made the Delhi NAM conference a landmark in the Non-Aligned Movement. So, I invite Mr. Natwar Singh to please come, and inaugurate this conference.
Natwar Singh: When Mr. Chandrajit Yadav asked me to participate in this important conference, I immediately agreed, not only because of the important subject, but, he is a revered and respected friend of mine, and I couldn't possibly say no to him. Unfortunately, I won't be here in the afternoon or tomorrow, but I can place my thoughts before you, in the time available.
Tomorrow is Jawaharlal Nehru's 39th death anniversary. And so, we are holding this conference on the eve of the death anniversary of Nehruji, a great statesman of the 20th Century, and the architect of India's foreign policy, and our policy of Non-Alignment.
The two world wars of the 20th Century, were a testimony to the failure of the European or rather, Western diplomacy. After the Second World War, the United Nations was set up, because the League of Nations had collapsed. And the collapse was due to the fact that, when Japan invaded Manchuria, the League did nothing. And, when Mussolini attacked Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), the League did nothing. And, when Hitler walked into Rhineland, the League of Nations did nothing. And, then, in 1939, because of the appeasement policy of some European powers, we had the Second World War.
So, after the Second World War, and the United Nations was established in the hope, that the world, or international community, would have learned some lessons from the failures of the League of Nations. And, the United Nations was drafted; and the Americans played a very important role in the drafting of the United Nations Charter, which was signed in San Francisco in October 1945.
India was also a signatory. We became automatic members of the United Nations, because we had been members of the League of the Nations, although India was still under British rule. But, since Britain called the shots in those days, India was made a member of the League of Nations; but we could only participate in ways concerning the conditions of India, or of Indians in South Africathat is, people of Indian religion settled in South Africaand on labor problems, not on political issues. But, it enabled us to become an automatic member of United Nations; for example, Pakistan, which had gone independent about the same time as us, just the same time, had to be elected.
We're Back to 19th-Century Colonialism
So, the Charter which was signedand on the whole the Charter is a noble document except for one or two paragraphs. It is not entirely an inspiring document, but it is a noble document, and the hopes of humankind were focussed on the United Nations.
Now, what is the shape of the United Nations today? I feel sorry for Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations. Because, what has happened is, that the United States, which did so much for the establishment of the United Nations, is, today, not showing the kind of respect one would have expected a superpower, or a "hyperpower" (as the French call the United States today), to treat the United Nations in this manner. I've already used strong words, but it won't really help. But, the fact of it is, that the United Nations has been not only bypassed, it has been denigrated.
Now, let's take Resolution 1441: Resolution 1441 does not mention "regime change." But, the American policy was one. Mr. Saddam Hussein should be killed. One country saying its objective is to kill the head of state of another countrywhether you like Saddam Hussein or not, I am not discussing the merits of it; we have our own point of view on Mr. Saddam Hussein. But, here was a superpower, a Permanent Member of the Security Council, the most powerful country in history; the richest country in history; technologically the most advanced country, with which we have very close relations, and valuable relations, and would like to strengthen those relations, had declared: 1) The objective is to kill the head of state of Iraq; 2) it is to impose regime change; 3) destroy weapons of mass destruction.
Now we don't know the fate of Saddam Hussein, but there has been a regime change. Now, what has this change brought about for Iraq? Anarchy and chaos. Because, when the Americans and the British, bypassing the United Nations, disregarding what France, China, and Russia had said, went into Iraq, I don't think they thought through, what would they do, once they had reached Baghdad. So, here now, we have a situation of a country of 22 million, richly endowed with the enormous amounts of oil; yet there, at the moment, there is no government. Whom did the United Nations deal with? The later resolutions say they will be Iraqi representatives, but for the next 12 months, the U.S.A. and the U.K. will be the administering powers.
So, you are back to the situation which was prevalent in the 19th Century. European powers walked into various parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and imposed their will and imposed their governments. Now, one would hope, that with the arrival of the 21st Century, these days of diplomacy by force; diplomacy through assassination; diplomacy through forced "regime change"; diplomacy disregarding sovereignty of nations; diplomacy disregarding the UN Charter, would be a thing of the past. That we are entering the new millennia with the hope that peace would prevail, and problems and differences among nations would be solved through discussion, and deliberation, and peaceful means.
But, this has not happened, and we have a government within the United States, which has an evangelical fervor, and a resort to the Almighty. Only the other day, the Attorney General of the United States invoked the name of God, with regard to terrorists. Now this evangelical fervor, has produced a situation in the world, that we have a single power, which has its own agenda, which is not willing to listen to anyone; and says that "we have decided to do A, B, C, D. And because we are powerful, we will be able to do it." Now, what does the world do about it?
We saw that a second resolution in the United Nations couldn't be adopted, because France, Germany, and China were members [of the Security Council]Germany is not a Permanent Member, but China and France areand Russia, objected to the resolution. The resolution was not passed. Nevertheless, the invasion of Iraq took place. And, post-Iraq, also, the situation will be, in the near, foreseeable future: Whatever happens in Iraq will be under the auspices of the American and British, with the United Nations playing a subsidiary role. They have a representative there, but I don't know what he's precisely supposed to do, and how much authority and power and influence he will have, in shaping the future of Iraq.
India's Condemnation of the War
Now, as far as India is concerned: The Parliament of India passed a resolution, a unanimous resolution, opposing the war, for a cease-fire. Actually, the resolution was unanimous, and the Parliament of India condemned the war on Iraq.
Now, several people, not only within India, who said, "What is the use of your passing a resolution on the last day of the war?" That's not the point. The point was, that the Parliament of India, representing 1 billion people, was unanimously opposed to the war. Now, if the resolution had not been passed, or a resolution had been passed by a majority, then they would have said, "Here you are! Even the Parliament of India did not unanimously oppose or condemn the war." So, the objective of the resolution, was not its timing, even if we had passed it on the first day. The result would have been the same. So, it pleased the people of India, to show to the world, that we were united, and the Parliament of India spoke with one voice in the resolution condemning the war.
Now, in several statements, the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, referred to Iraq. He has said, that whatever is happening in Iraq is a warning to us in this part of the world. Why has he said this? After all, his government has very close relations to the United States. He has said this, because he feels that maybe, the United States, or some elements in it, might be looking around: "Where do we go after Iraq?" We heard today, that there's the report from Tehran, that the regime in Iran is to be civilized, and an unfortunate phrase was used: "axis of evil." The countries that are called "axis of evil" are members of United Nations.
So now, who decides "axis of evil"? And, which are the countries to be included in the future? Who sets the agenda for the "axis of evil"?
So, this is a totally new situation. And, why it will become so acute, is that with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, an entirely new situation arose in the world. That situation is highlighted by the fact, that an alternative point of view disappeared from the world. Let me repeat: Indeed, with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, an alternative point of view disappeared from the United Nations. Whether it was on political matters, on military matters, on economic matters, health matterswhatever you likethere was a point of view. And the disintegration of the Soviet Union had a direct impact on the fortunes and future of the Non-Aligned Movement. The Non-Aligned Movement played a seminal role in the process of decolonizationwith the assistance of the United States and the Soviet Union, at certain times.
Now it was normally said, that you know, the Non-Aligned countries are nearer to the Soviet Union than they are to the Western world. You should look at the voting pattern at the time of United Nations; you will find, that the Soviet Union voted with the Non-Aligned countries on major issues, concerning the Non-Aligned world: issues of apartheid, or colonialism, or neo-colonialism.
The Role of the Non-Aligned
Now, what has the Non-Aligned Movement done now? Now, Chandrajitji referred to the Non-Aligned summit in New Delhi, in March 1983. I had the great good fortune of being selected to be Secretary General by Indira Gandhi. And I remembered the role the Movement played under the leadership of India's role. And what the Non-Aligned Movement has become today. And, here I think, we should have played a more active role, even at Kuala Lumpur, when the Non-Aligned Movement met some months ago, and, an Iraq declaration was formulated. I think we should have been much more active, given our past, and the importance we attach to non-alignment, and the role that India played in the Non-Aligned Movementand, even now, during the Iraq War, she has tried to play, in vainthat when major issues concerning non-aligned world are taking place, Non-Aligned Movement is found wanting.
Take, for example, the Iraq-Iran War in 1980s: The Non-Aligned Movement was unable to resolve these differences. Take the issue of Afghanistan: The Non-Aligned Movement was not able to play an active role in the situation in Afghanistan. We are in a situation, that NATO forces are going to be stationed in Afghanistan. Now, people continually ask, "Why is the Non-Aligned Movement relevant today?" Well, if the Non-Aligned Movement is irrelevant, then why is NATO relevant? The Soviet Union has disappeared. The Warsaw Pact has been wound up. Where's the enemy?
Now, the Non-Aligned Movement is relevant, for a variety of reasons.
Now, international agenda has changed. International agenda in the '50s, '60s, '70s, was largely concerned with apartheid, imperialism, colonialismthese issues; independence of a vast number of countries. Today, the agenda is terrorism; AIDS; and violence; climate change; financial issues; the place of small countries: These are the issues on which the Non-Aligned Movement should get together. The Non-Aligned Movement should have had a special session on the situation in Iraq.
And, I think, without in any way having a confrontation with the United Statesbecause it is not to the advantage of India, or any other country, or any other movement, to have a confrontation with the United States, because it's going to be counterproductive. So, it should be the effort of the countries like India, to engage the United States in friendly discussions, and try to strengthen the forces of multilateralism, and to reduce the influence of unilaterialism.
Now, it sounds devious, because the mode in which, at the moment, American foreign policy and security policy have been unfolding, doesn't give much encouragement to us. But, at the same time, I think it is the responsibility of, certainly Russia, China, Germany, France, India, Japan, Indonesiathese countries should sit down together, and try and engage the United States, and say, that it is "powerful you are; wealthy you are; technologically advanced you are, with a vast reach, you don't to have conquer anything. You can push a button, and throw any bombs anywhere you like. But, the problems of the world can't be solved, even by a single superpower, because they are so complex, and they are so deep, also." The United States, and all the power and authority, do not, for example, have an intuitive understanding of India-Pakistan relations. The complexity of Indo-Pak relations needs an intuitive understanding, which in my judgment, the United States lacks.
Engage the United States
What the world needs today, is not Pax Americana: It needs Pax Planetica. We have had Pax Romana; we have had Pax Britannica; we have got now Pax Americana. But, I think, if the world is to become a peaceful place, where we can all live in peace and amity, where no single power or group of powers dominates other powers; where major issues are settled through discussionthen, what the world needs is Pax Planetica. And therefore, it is essential that the United Nations be strengthened.
Now, how does that happen? It can happen in two or three ways. If Russia, China, France, in the Security Council, engage the United States and the United Kingdom in a debate, to say that, "Iraq is behind us. What lessons have been learned from Iraq? Is it going to be the dominance of the theory of regime change, arbitrarily run, outside the United Nations? Is national sovereignty of no consequence? Is running the United Nations meaningless?" And, I think, if these three powers, in a spirit of friendship, engage the United States andif necessary, ask Non-Aligned Movement, ask the Organization of African States, ask the Latin American countriesthat we try and engage the United States, rather than to confront the United States. This is being realistic.
I think, that the message that should go out from this conference, is: That the best hope for resolving international conflicts, or pre-empting them, is to strengthen the United Nations. Now, how is that going to happen, when the United Nations and Security Council, at the moment, is an undemocratic set-up? The Western world is represented by the United States, U.K., France, and Russia. Africa, Asia, Latin America has one representative, the People's Republic of China. So, obviously, the United Nations Charter has to be revised, where if you don't revise the Charter, then you can't increase the number of Permanent Members on the Security Council, and all these five members have veto.
Now, there are schools of thought, which suggest that, you know, "do away with the veto." The conditions for the United States to become a member of the United Nations Security Council was, that the five powers would have a veto. So, the very beginning was, that there would be one category of members, which is superior to others, and the activities of these Five Permanent Membersveto-holding memberswere never to be discussed in the United Nations. Now, the world has changed. In 1945, there were 51 members of the United Nations; today, there are 190. But, the composition of the Security Council remains the same, as far as Permanent Members are concerned. The Council was expanded by five members in 1963, and became 15five permanent, and ten non-permanent.
Now, if this is to happen, then naturally, a country like India would find a place in the Security Council as a Permanent Member; so, I think, would Brazil, and Japan, and Germany; then South Africa, and Nigeria.
Even if agreement was reached on this, maybe we would be able to be in a position to engage, with the United States, in a constructive dialogue, so that we address these problems, within the framework of the United Nations. It's not going to be easy, but I think this a better approach, than adopting a posture of hostility, or confrontation with the United States. We must be realistic on these matters. It's one thing to be emotional, and one thing to be passionate, and one thing to be angry: The onlyI was taught, when I with the Foreign Servicethat the only emotion that you will be allowed, is controlled indignation. You don't have to go yelling and shouting, which doesn't help. The only way to do it is, to be able to convince our American friends, that there's another way of looking at this, that might is not right, and, what we are saying reflects the higher ideals of the American Declaration of Independence.
The Moral Dimension of Foreign Policy
You see, if you read history, you realize that for nearly 150 years, the United States was the most isolationist country in the world! And the last 50 years, it's the most interventionist country in the world! So, the 21th Century has begun on a note, where if you deal a situation, of which there are no precedentseven the Briitsh Empire is not as powerful as the United States is today. And therefore: How to convert a unipolar world into a multipolar world? And, that can only be done through goodwill, understanding, mutual confidence, and not through confrontation.
And, I'll finally mention: The 19th Century firmly believed that progress was inherent in history. Now, the history of the 20th Century has belied this Romantic belief, that progress is inherent in history. The two World Wars in 20th Century were not a sign of progress. The invention of nuclear weapons was not a sign of progress. What has happened in Iraq, is not a sign of progress. So, humankind has to make very great efforts. And, I think here, India has lesson to teach toor to give the worldnot to preach to the world: But I think it's Gandhi's example, that it is possible to look at these problems, from another point of view. And the moral dimension, from the foreign policy of any country, should not be absent.
Now, there's an argument, that the United States foreign policy has been along moral lines; and you can make a case for this, and you can also quote that case. But, our understanding of the moral dimension is slightly different from that of our American friends. And therefore, we hope, that our country will be able to provide the healing touchwhich we were able to do, after the Second World War. Because, India's GNP in 1947 was not worth calculating. We were not a strong military power. But, the fact was, that India's moral standing was very high, for the simple reason that the Indian freedom movement was not dedicated to a doctrine, but to a purpose: and the purpose was to achieve independence through non-violent means. And so, that's why India's voice counted.
And, I'm hoping it will be possible for us, to get together with other like-minded countries, and try and see if it is possible to have a constructive and meaningful dialogue with some of our Western friends. And, to see how we can avoid the kind of situation that took place in Iraq.
If you don't find a solution, then you will have a very dangerous situation. Now, for example, the situation in Iraq, for the time being, put back efforts to stop terrorism. And another important item: On Sept. 11, 2001, the entire world was with the United States. The sympathy of the world was with the United States in September 2001. In 2003, in March-April, the situation was the reverse! Except for a handful of countries, nobody supported their action in Iraq. So, I think all Foreign Offices have to work full-time, to see if we can ensure a better world, than we seem to be confronting at the moment.
Thank you very much.