- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger yesterday poked fun at European unease with President Bush's designation of three rogue states as an "axis of evil," calling the outcry "psychiatric."
He also expressed skepticism about a Saudi proposal to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, although he described the initiative itself as a "significant event."
Mr. Kissinger said he agreed "with the sentiment" of Mr. Bush's State of the Union address in January, when the president lumped together Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil."
"When you have countries that have used weapons of mass destruction against their own people and against their neighbors, or countries that have used assassinations and terrorism, or countries that have practiced hostage-taking and encouraged terrorist groups, can you then still wait until something has happened, or should you take some pre-emptive or preventive action?
"I think this is an important question, and the reaction of some of our allies has been psychiatric. They have been analyzing our motives, and they don't answer the question. And that question must be dealt with," Mr. Kissinger said at a National Press Club breakfast.
The former secretary, a native of Austria, said he might not have used the phrase "axis of evil" if he had written the president's speech, but he jokingly remarked that he translated from German when he spoke English. During World War II, Germany, Italy and Japan were known as the "Axis."
Mr. Bush's tough stance on North Korea, Iraq and Iran has angered several European leaders. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said it spoke of a "simplistic" foreign policy, and Chris Patten, the European commissioner for external affairs, accused the Bush administration of unilateralism and imperialism.
Mr. Kissinger, whose speech marked the 30th anniversary of his negotiation of a framework for U.S.-Chinese relations known as the Shanghai Communique, also answered questions on topics including European attitudes toward the second stage of Washington's war on terrorism and the Middle East.
He questioned the viability of the peace initiative of Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, who proposed last month that Arab states establish full ties with Israel if the Jewish state quit all Arab lands occupied in the 1967 war.
"Can that particular proposal lead to a solution? I don't think so," he said. "I don't think that after all that has happened in the last 18 months, and since the beginning of [the 1993] Oslo [process], it is reasonable to talk of a final solution of the Palestinian problem.
"The idea that you can make an arrangement, which then, for all eternity, or at least for the indefinite future, describes a position of peace, I simply do not believe this is possible."
But he said the fact that Saudi Arabia "put forward a proposal in its own name for any kind of normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world is a significant event." It is something the kingdom has never done before.
Mr. Kissinger, whose Middle East diplomatic shuttles became legendary in the 1970s, recommended "an interim coexistence agreement out of which emerges a Palestinian state" with a clear dividing line and rules of conduct.
"After some normal life returns, the ultimate issues can then be addressed," he said.
Mr. Kissinger also was asked to respond to charges by author Christopher Hitchens that his conduct of the Vietnam War amounted to war crimes. He said he did not have to answer to the British writer but that such accusations "undermine the very concept of war crimes."
"I served in a period of tremendous domestic drama where serious people on both sides came to different conclusions," said Mr. Kissinger, who served as President Nixon's national security adviser before becoming secretary of state in 1973.
"To take these disagreements by twisting facts, quotations, out of context into war crimes is really instituting vendetta as a national dialogue," he said.
"There are crimes against humanity that need to be dealt with, but if it is done by these methods of distortion, out of context, then it is really defeating the very causes the author pretends to serve."


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