"Antiterror Coalition's Fissures are Sho

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Posted by Al from ? ( on Monday, February 25, 2002 at 5:49PM :

Published on Monday, February 25, 2002 in the Toronto Globe & Mail

Antiterror Coalition's Fissures are Showing
At Odds with U.S., Some European Allies Focus on Conditions That Breed Terrorism

by Shawn McCarthy

STOCKHOLM -- For all the camaraderie among global leaders over security since Sept. 11, the lines of demarcation came into sharp focus during Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's 11-day trip to Russia, Germany and Sweden.
While united on the need for military action in Afghanistan, US President George W. Bush and other Western leaders have at best papered over their differences on the belligerent US approach to Iraq. And they appear starkly at odds over the need to boost international development aid in order to address what some call the root causes of terrorism.

It is on those last two points that European leaders, particularly the left-of-center ones, have appealed to Mr. Chrétien and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to act as bridges to Mr. Bush.

They want to ensure that Washington remains committed to a multilateral approach to global issues, even if the resulting consensus blunts the United States' raw projection of power in its perceived national interest.

At a meeting of 11 progressive leaders in Stockholm on the weekend, the heads of government praised Mr. Bush's handling of the antiterrorism agenda so far, but said security cannot be won solely through military might, police action and covert operations.

They stressed the need to deal with the root causes of terrorism, a concept that makes many Americans uneasy because it suggests that the events of Sept. 11 were the result of global injustice and poverty, not just the acts of Islamic fanatics.

"We must be resolute in fighting terrorism and equally resolute in tackling its causes," the leaders said in a communiqué released after their two-day meeting. "For the only lasting answers lie in justice, more effective international co-operation, peace and freedom, democracy and development."

In their postsummit statements, several leaders, including Mr. Blair, appeared to extend the root-causes argument to Africa.

Summit leaders asked former US president Bill Clinton to lead a mission to Africa to find new approaches to promote economic growth and improvements in health and education.

Mr. Chrétien, who travels to Africa next month, said Mr. Clinton's appointment was run past the White House without objections. Perhaps that's because Mr. Bush doesn't see Africa as a top concern.

The Prime Minister, however, has been working hard to ensure that the beleaguered continent remains a high priority at the forthcoming Group of Eight summit at Kananaskis, Alta., despite some efforts to turn the gathering into a security summit.

Noting that a child dies in Africa every three seconds from disease or war, Mr. Blair also voiced his support for an African initiative, placing it firmly within the context of global security.

"There is a very clear sense in the world today that it is important that we deal with these issues of terrorism, of weapons of mass destruction, and also that we have a concept of security that is a broad one," Mr. Blair said.

"So that we are also dealing with the problems for reconstruction of Afghanistan now, dealing with the problems of Africa, making sure that we are trying to tackle some of the appalling situations of poverty and deprivation in our world."

Mr. Bush himself has talked about the need to address issues of democracy and underdevelopment in the world and has offered $296-million (US) for the rebuilding of Afghanistan. But the Americans are less interested in a massive new aid program for Africa and are suspicious of those who would cloak it in the mantle of global security.

Mr. Bush's pledge to address world poverty often gets overshadowed by his hard-line position that labels Iraq, Iran and North Korea supporters of terrorism and by his vow to do "whatever it takes" to confront the threat posed by those so-called rogue nations.

Before his stop in Stockholm, Mr. Chrétien got an earful from leaders who support Washington's action in Afghanistan, but have concerns about its plans to broaden the fight and fear it is set to act unilaterally.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated bluntly that Iraq is not among the countries that supported Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network -- therefore, it is not a terrorist state.

But the Americans are not limiting their targets to al-Qaeda. They believe Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is secretly building nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and worry that Baghdad will either use them itself or supply them to Islamic groups that could launch attacks against the United States or Israel.

For now, the Americans appear prepared to work with the United Nations to get its inspectors back into Iraq. But senior administration officials have made it clear that their patience is not limitless and that their goal is the removal of Mr. Hussein's regime.

Mr. Bush's administration has said clearly that it reserves the right to move unilaterally. And yesterday, the London-based Observer newspaper reported that Mr. Blair plans to visit Washington this spring to talk about military options for dealing with Iraq.

For his part, Mr. Chrétien has said any talk of unilateral US action is "hypothetical" and not worth debating. And he has been less inclined to push the African agenda as one related to global security, pitching it instead as something worth doing in its own right. As chair of the G8 this year, his job will be to fashion a consensus for tackling global problems, without retreating into the kind of vague generalities that are used when there is no real agreement.

© 2002 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc

-- Al
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