Internationalism: Post Iraq
The World Political Forum
May 19, 2003
With Iraq divided into American, British and Polish controlled zones, we
gather together in Turin at an extraordinary and difficult time. Whatever
our own views on the path leading to the recent Iraq War, it is time to look
It is time to assess the new world reality.
The post Iraq
international situation gives an opportunity to look for ways to promote the
cause of democratization, human rights and the global community to which we
are all committed.
Many in the international community felt uncomfortable with a war without
United Nations sanction.
Demonstrations for peace broke out in the heart of Europe, at times larger
than demonstrations within the Muslim world.
No one likes war.
No one likes Repression either.
Western societies absorb dissent.
Non-Western societies are yet to deal with the challenge of those
victimized, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and exiled because of their
This community of the disaffected and the disenfranchised played a pivotal
role both in Afghanistan
In Kabul and Baghdad, popular voices of the people were denied political
space. They formed the political front for a war to reclaim their own land.
Countries descend into the darkness of international terrorism and state
terrorism when pluralism is disrupted, when diversity is suppressed, when
one man directs the destiny of millions be it a Mullah Omar or Saddam
Hussain or other dictators.
President George Bush justified war claiming:
“Men and women in every culture need liberty
like they need food and water and air.
Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices;
and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.”
tyrants should fear.
It is troubling that some of those tyrants still feel little fear. Sadly,
some of them are still close allies of Washington. In the case of Pakistan,
a repressive regime exiles the popular opposition, imprisons dissidents and
In the post Iraq
world that dawned this April, the words rationalizing the Iraq war can be
used to press all nations, and especially
to make consistent application of democratic principles the essence of
internationalism in this new millennium.
There were moments in recent history where historic moments were
When the moving finger of history writes of the end of the 20th century, it
will write of the international community’s failure to reinforce the
democratic breakthrough that the end of communism brought as the era’s
greatest missed opportunities.
I recall speaking to European Parliaments, to the Congress of the United
States proclaiming that the era of the dictator was over, that militaries
all over the world had finally returned to their barracks, that democracy
was blooming on every continent.
In retrospect, I fear it was merely a mirage. The forces of real politic
were waiting to collide with the ideology of democracy.
We proclaimed a new moral era, but actually constructed an era of moral
relativity. And ladies and gentlemen, selective morality is by its very
Our standards are inconsistent and our policies selective. Those that decry
dictatorship in Burma are silent about tyranny elsewhere. Those decrying
dictatorship in Iraq, stay close to dictators in Pakistan. Many in this
room rightfully demand self-determination in Palestine, but are less vocal
about the rights of the Kashmiri people.
In this age of moral relativism, political standards vary according to
political expediency and economic imperatives. Democracy for Iraq, but
dictatorship just miles away. Iraqi violations of UN resolutions bring a
strong response. Violations of UN resolutions in the
Middle East or in
draw a less vocal reaction.
We evaluate national security by hardened borders and tanks and missiles.
But true security is linked to the fight for economic justice that will
liberate nations; true security is linked to the fight against famine and
AIDs; true security means protecting the environment from pollution and
No matter how great and powerful a nation may be, true leadership is more
than military action. It is leading the fight against AIDS, against hunger,
against poverty, against racism, and for women, the fight for justice.
Ladies and gentlemen, the post Iraq world situation allows us to focus once
again on the principle of freedom. This time it must be more than rhetoric
that is exploited in pursuit of limited, foreign policy objectives.
I remember a time when the world walked from Afghanistan after the defeat of
the Soviets in 1989.
The fundamental mistake was that we were not consistently committed to the
values of freedom, democracy and self-determination that ultimately
undermine terrorism. The result was Taliban dictatorship, Al-Qaeda and
Dictatorship doesn’t constrain fundamentalism or terrorism. It provokes it.
The goal of rational foreign policy must always be to simultaneously promote
stability and to strengthen democratic values.
The stakes are high. Every war in the South Asian subcontinent from where I
come started when my country was under a military dictator or one of its
I do not know of a single case when a democratic country has gone to war
against another democratic country.
Dictators are not accountable and do not need a popular mandate behind their
The tragedy of
is that Saddam Hussain spurned all offers of a peaceful transition from his
regime to a democratic one. None dared tell him that he could not win a
military war against American technology.
None dared criticize his flawed strategy of a prolonged guerrilla conflict
with house to house fighting in Iraq’s cities to force Washington into a
ceasefire while he remained in control.
Dictators are cut off from reality by sycophants too scared to tell them the
truth allowing for miscalculations that innocent people pay for in lives.
Democracies are different. Democratic leaders are accountable before the
Parliament, the Press and the People. Democratic governments must provide
for the public welfare, must provide schools and hospitals, health and
housing. Dictatorships need not. They rely on unaccountable secret
services and are free to divert resources to schemes that parliamentary
scrutiny simply would not permit.
History has taught us the very hard lesson that when democratic states turn
against democracy, they turn against themselves.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The international press has speculated about Islamabad's support to North
Korea's nuclear program. Islamabad denies the charges.
Even though Islamabad
is a key ally of the US in the war against terrorism, Pakistani citizens are
finger printed and photographed when they visit America.
Military dictator General Musharaf promised the world community he would
seal the borders with
to prevent fleeing Al Qaeda from slipping into
Yet scores made their way into the country as the recent arrests by the FBI
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I believe a democratic Pakistan is the best guarantee of respect and dignity
for the people of Pakistan. I believe that a democratic Pakistan living by
the rule of law within and without is the best guarantee of the triumph of
moderation and modernity amongst one billion Muslims at the crossroads of
These are difficult times. We stand at the crossroads of a new world order.
We witness the dawn of a uni polar world environment where wars can take
place with the coalition of the willing. We witness disunity in the United
Nations Security Council, in NATO, in
Europe and in the Muslim world.
We can remember that the future is in our hands. As the European
philosopher Goethe once wrote, “Freedom must be reinvented in every
Unipolarism can lead to unilateralism. As power shifts to new paradigms the
challenge is to find ways where the voices of the rest of the world
community can also be heard effectively.
This is our turn to reinvent freedom.
And we shall prevail.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen.