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Krueger rails US invasion of Iraq

The Herald-Zeitung (10/02/03)
By Ron Maloney

SAN MARCOS — Ambassador Bob Krueger Wednesday night said the United States intervention in Iraq was wrong and doomed to failure if the effort to rebuild the country is not multinational.

Krueger, of New Braunfels, was the fall speaker in the Lyndon Baines Johnson distinguished lecture series at Texas State University-San Marcos.

His topic was, “When Should the United States Intervene? A look at U.S. Foreign Policy Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”

About 300 attended the talk conducted in the LBJ Student Center.

In his talk, Krueger, who was target of an assassination attempt for advocating human rights when he was ambassador to Burundi in the mid-1990s, examined three opportunities for intervention by the United States.

They were the U.S. Marshall Plan for reconstruction of Europe after World War II, intervention that never took place in the genocidal slaughter in central Africa and the war in Iraq.

Krueger characterized the situations as “…one where we were right, one where we didn’t do it but it would have been right, and the third in which it was wrong.”

He began with the war between two tribes in Rwanda and Burundi in central Africa.

In eight weeks near the beginning of the civil war in Rwanda, 800,000 of 7 million Rwandans were slaughtered in ethnic war — all civilians, most women and children.

“ What did the world do? Nothing,” Krueger said.

The United Nations sent in 100 troops. U.S. President Bill Clinton, stung by the recent debacle in Somalia, knew he had little public support for a war in a couple of small countries in Africa, Krueger said.

“ And we as Americans silently watched as we saw pictures of bodies floating down the river,” Krueger said. “What did we do? Nothing.”

The Marshall Plan, Krueger said, was a resounding success that was unprecedented in human history. At the conclusion of World War II — after seeing the Treaty of Versailles at the conclusion of World War I had set the stage for a new, broader war — the United States took on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Europe at what would be a present-day cost of $47.6 billion.

“ After the war, we chose to intervene in an unprecedented way by rebuilding the countries we had defeated,” Krueger said. “We wanted to give them the tools to forge the freedoms we enjoy.”

The war in Iraq was started under false or mistaken pretenses, Krueger said.

The war so far has cost triple the price for the Marshall Plan and has polarized the Arabic world against the “Great Satan” United States.

The United Nations could not find nuclear, chemical or biological weapons before the war, Krueger said, and teams of 1,400 inspectors working for the United States haven’t found them since.

“ The attack on Iraq has sown worldwide discord. I think we can take no comfort that it has made Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein friends,” Krueger said.

Krueger recommended future decisions about foreign intervention be based on the same values Americans bring to their interpersonal relationships. He said U.S. national interests should be more carefully defined and that the U.S. should not intervene on behalf of democratic values in countries that have no experience with or demonstrate no interest in democracy.

“ We must understand democracy cannot be implanted upon people who do not want it,” Krueger said.

Americans should understand that the lives of foreigners — particularly civilians — are as important as American lives, he said, adding that interventions should be multinational and not unilateral, and some circumstances — such as genocide — justify intervention.