- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

Desperate diplomacy
French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte warned the Bush administration against seeking a second U.N. Security Council resolution after the one in November that warned Saddam Hussein of "serious consequences" if he failed to disarm.
"Weeks before, I went to the State Department and the White House and said, 'Don't do it. You will split the Security Council,'" Mr. Levitte told the Council on Foreign Relations at a Washington forum Tuesday night.
The United States ran into a diplomatic roadblock created by a French veto threat as it pursued the second resolution for weeks before giving up shortly before opening the assault on Iraq. Washington sought the resolution to help British Prime Minister Tony Blair when he was facing a revolt from anti-war factions in his own Labor Party.
Mr. Levitte appeared with German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger as the two experienced diplomats tried to do a little fence-mending in Washington, where officials from the White House to Capitol Hill are angered over French and German efforts to prevent the United States from leading a coalition to remove Saddam.
The forum was moderated by Richard Holbrooke, whose past positions include U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, ambassador to Germany and assistant secretary of state for European affairs.
Mr. Holbrooke expressed his great friendship with both men, whom he met serving in his former diplomatic posts. But he criticized their governments for trying to stop NATO from protecting Turkey in case of attack from Iraq.
"What you did to Turkey was completely wrong," he said.
Mr. Holbrooke also chided their governments for attempting to prolong weapons inspections and refusing to impose the "serious consequences" pledged in Security Council Resolution 1441, which all 15 members of the council knew meant war.
"Your country knew [that] perfectly well," he said, referring to France, which helped draft the resolution.
Mr. Levitte and Mr. Ischinger expressed their hopes that the dispute over Iraq will not damage long-term relations with the United States. They said the United States and Europe need each other to maintain a strong trans-Atlantic alliance.
Mr. Ischinger said Germany now hopes for a quick U.S. victory "with as few casualties as possible." He also said that Germany is "probably contributing more directly and indirectly than most of the coalition members."
He noted that 3,000 German soldiers are now guarding U.S. installations in Germany and freeing up U.S. troops for the war effort. Germany also has deployed a chemical and biological decontamination unit in Kuwait.
Germany opposes the conflict in Iraq because of its defeats in two world wars, not because of anti-Americanism, Mr. Ischinger said. However, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder angered Washington by stirring up anti-American feelings during his election campaign.
"We know what war is about," Mr. Ischinger said. "We wish to live in a Europe free of war. This is not a sign of 'Euro-weenies' or a sign of weakness. … Your experience with war is very different from ours. We Germans want to be 200 percent certain we do not go to war again for the wrong reasons."
Both ambassadors urged the United States to work with the United Nations for the postwar reconstruction of Iraq, as Mr. Ischinger bemoaned the growing criticism of the United Nations in Washington.
"If you want to be seen as a benevolent hegemon, you better work through the United Nations," he said.
"It would be a historic mistake for the position of those who don't want to see the U.N. flag anywhere to prevail," he added.
Mr. Levitte said he realizes that the United States views its sovereignty differently from Europeans, who are working for greater cooperation within the European Union.
"Europeans want to develop a shared sovereignty," he said. "In the United States, sovereignty is not something you share. It is something you protect."
Mr. Holbrooke opened the discussion with a reference to a magazine article that joked about Europe being from Venus and the United States from Mars, a play on the title of a popular book about men and women.
He said U.S. dialogue with France and Germany has degenerated into "personal animosity, jokes and name-calling."
"If we don't share the planet with our European friends," he said, "what planet do we live on?"

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