Ex-U.N. Inspector Warns of War Consequences
By Chris Jones
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Thursday 13 March 2003
The United States could face decades of worldwide political and economic turmoil should it take military action against Iraq without United Nations consent, a former chief U.N. arms inspector warned a Las Vegas audience Wednesday.
"If the United States acts without such approval, then I frankly fear the consequences of such action," said Richard Butler, who from 1997 to 1999 worked to disarm Iraq as executive chairman of the United Nations Special Commission. "It will be a terrible business and its consequences incalculable in terms of the number of lives lost and the cost.
"I don't know what it would do to the U.S. economy, the global economy or the price of oil, but I suspect a lot of bad things."
Butler described the current situation in the Middle East as "the defining moment" of the post-Cold War era.
"The shape of probably the first two decades of the 21st century is about to be determined, probably this week," Butler told an audience of about 500 people at the International Wireless Communications Expo-Mobile Radio Technology expo, which runs through Friday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The United States is this week lobbying for the necessary United Nations Security Council votes that could authorize the use of military force to disarm Iraq. Should its diplomatic efforts fall short, President Bush has indicated the United States may attack Iraq regardless of world opinion.
If that occurs, Butler said he "fears the worst," including destabilization of international political relations and the United Nations, as well as "great unrest" in the Arab-Muslim world that could spark further terrorism.
Though he believes Iraq is in clear violation of its post-Persian Gulf War promises to disarm, Butler said global politics have overshadowed the arms control issue. Instead, he said the current Security Council debate is more closely centered on whether the world's lone remaining superpower will act in accordance with world opinion.
"(Iraq) has come to be seen as much more about ... the question of what will the U.S. do with its great power than about the disarmament of Saddam Hussein," Butler said. "If you listen to the French, the Germans and the Russians, you could be given to thinking that they've decided the bigger problem in the world right now is the uses to which (President Bush) will put American power.
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