The Russian defense minister made it clear in public, at the opening of the talks with Bill Cohen, that Russia opposes the use of force against Iraq (news article Feb.13, 98). It was reported that Bill Cohen was taken aback because normally at such appearances both sides exchange pleasantries for the cameras and express their disagreement in private talks. I could not help but make the connection with Madeleine Albright's remark after her tour of the Arab countries. She said that none of the Arab leaders she had consulted had told her to go back home and tell her president not to use military force. That was a remark made in public. I wonder what they told her in private.
I think the Administration should stop pretending that the international community supports the use of force and should rather listen to what its members say in private. The Administration should also stop pretending that this problem is between Iraq and the United Nations. If this is case, let the United Nations, through the Security Council as a whole, take care of it. But for the United States, which didn't even pay its dues, to hijack the United Nations, and speak in its name, that's arrogance at its peak.
February 14, 1998