Chiang Mai Mail - Saturday, February 19, 2005
Identifies the real threats to world peace and unity
Dr. Hans Blix, chairman of the international Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, former executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission and director general emeritus of the IAEA, is one of those rare international experts who can call a spade, a spade – with authority.
In his closing remarks, given during his address at the CMU to those who can still think for themselves, he said, “In foreign affairs, as in medicine, you cannot have successful operations unless you make correct diagnoses. You need to apply critical thinking to get these diagnoses. If you do not, but instead create a virtual reality, that reality may collide with the reality on the ground. This, in my view, is what happened in Iraq.”
He was brought to Chiang Mai by the International Peace Foundation under Chairman Uwe Morawetz, and the interest in the man and his opinions was extremely high. The CMU auditorium was filled past capacity and an adjoining room had to be opened for the hundreds of students to allow them to understand the plight of a man who tried (unsuccessfully) to convince the world and its leaders that weapons of mass destruction were not found during 700 inspections at 500 different sites.
He stated that due to misinformation and the lack of cross examination, and with political leaders seizing upon unconfirmed “evidence”, was it possible for the Iraq war to happen. He compared the situation with seeing black cats in a street, then leading to the conclusion that there must be witches around.
One of his main points was that terrorists do not live on clouds but must have their feet on the territory of states, so the international community should uphold the principle that each government has an obligation to ensure that its territory is not used as a base for attacks on other states.
However, Dr. Blix said he knows that for most people in the world the priority security issues are hunger, poverty, disease, and civil disorder. He does not believe that another world war is on the way but that global warming and environmental threats are much bigger concerns for man’s long-term security. “The United Nations has a role to play in helping to provide such security. Examples are easy to find. After the tsunami catastrophe, better warning systems are now discussed regionally and globally. Whether we want it or not the gradual global integration that is being brought about by the technical, economic, and information evolution is gluing us together. Increased interdependence and proximity will push relations between blocs and continents toward peace.”
But he also expressed concern over attempted nuclear armament of states such as North Korea and Libya and spoke on the implementation of “smart” economic packages, to help those countries, even Iran, to exit from poverty and starvation, as has happened in China. Solutions through negotiations! Dr. Blix spoke on the ways in which the world fights terrorism, about intensified international cooperation in the day-to-day field work of national intelligence, mentioning national police and financial institutions to trace persons, resources, weapons and dangerous material. But it was not all doom and gloom. He said with a twinkle that, “There is hope. The diplomatic game is still on – which is better than seeing it off!” Despite that, he urged the media to be careful with speculations about the bombing of Iranian installations and about Iranian retaliation and added that he hoped that all sides feel the seriousness of the situation. It was a complex address, but with very salient concluding remarks looking towards the future, towards more balance of power and the possibility to make the world a safer place.