Battle for Iraq, Thai Voices

The Nation - Thursday, March 20, 2003

Scholars and diplomats attending a reception for Prince Alfred and Princess Raffaella of Liechtenstein- in Bangkok to promote the upcoming "Dialogue towards a Culture of Peace" - comment on the looming war against Iraq.

Anand Panyarachun, former prime minister: 'It is sad for the world. I wish the president of the United States had adopted another option and chosen a peaceful path to resolve the conflict. While I can understand the trauma of Americans after September 11, I still feel that the abandonment of unity in the UN Security Council after the adoption of Resolution 1441 wasn't wise. I would have preferred to see more efforts to maintain unity.'

Naowarat Pongpaiboon, poet, national artist: 'On the day Bush drops bombs on Iraq, we should mobilize Buddhist monks all over the country to pray for the Iraq people. This would show our spiritual support as well as symbolically protest against the loss of human lives. Peace does not come of war. Peace should be there in the beginning. It's a fabric of love and understanding.'

Thanat Khoman, former foreign minister: 'Each side has a case. Bush has long stressed that Saddam must disarm and has given him repeated warnings. He seems to have no other choice. It's time to act. Meanwhile, those opposed to war must also pursue their cause.'

Gothom Areeya, chaiman, Peace and Culture Foundation: 'I'm sick of people asking me how this war will affect the Thai economy. This war is  a serious threat to humanity as a whole.'

Paiboon Wattanasiritham, member of the National Economic and Social Development Advisory Council: 'I don't want to see war. We haven't done enough to resolve the Iraqi conflict by peaceful means. World peace has never been built from war, but from tolerance and forgiveness. Violence has a life of its own. It breeds more violence. I think humanity faces the challenge of finding peaceful means to resolve conflicts. The world has knowledge and technology, but how can they help us achieve world peace.'

Tatchai Sumitra, rector, Chulalongkorn University: 'This war will make it more difficult for nations to live together. The international rule of law has changed forever. I don't think the United States has established it can legitimately wage this war.'

General Boonsrang Niumpradit, commander, UNTAET Peacekeeping Force to East Timor: 'Everyone likes to see peace. Neither the military nor civilians want to go to battle. In war, military officers will have to stand on the front line, while civilians get caught in the crossfire. No one wants war.'

Vararom Pachimsawat, artistic director, the Dance Centre "As a peace-loving person, I say 'no' to war."

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