WASHINGTON April 15 —
The heat generated by the speedy collapse of President Saddam
Hussein's government is being felt not just by Syria, but also by
Iraq's fellows in President Bush's "axis of evil," Iran and North
North Korea now says multilateral talks about its nuclear program
which the United States wants are not necessarily a bad idea after
all. Iran's former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, long allied with
Islamic hard-liners against the "Great Satan" America, suggested
over the weekend that Iran either hold a referendum or seek a
decision from the Expediency Council advisory panel about restoring
ties with the United States.
"Saddam's fall and the American military operation's great
success has had a real sobering effect on the Middle East. It's a
wake-up call," said Scott Lasensky, an expert on the region for the
Council on Foreign Relations.
Specifically, Iran and Syria are watching to see if the
overwhelming force used to implement Bush's pre-emptive strike
doctrine brought down Saddam's government or if it buckled because
it was weakened by domestic factors, Lasensky said.
Bush's doctrine holds that the United States has an inherent
right to attack any state posing an active threat to U.S. security.
If Saddam fell purely because of the doctrine, Lasensky said,
"that's even more sobering for these regimes."
He advised the administration to talk up the ease with which the
U.S. military staged such a massive show of strength. "Let the
impression of Saddam's defeat sit with these leaders," Lasensky
Secretary of State Colin Powell indicated Monday that the United
States just may do that. Holding up Syria as an example, he called
on all nations in the region to "review their past practices and
behavior" in light of the change under way in Iraq.
Danielle Pletka, a Middle East expert at the American Enterprise
Institute, said some leaders, such as Syrian President Bashar Assad
and Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are aware of the
dynamics in the region.
"What we want people to do is to step back, take a deep breath
and reassess the decisions that they have been making that not only
threaten the United States and our allies in the Middle East, but do
not serve in any way the vast mass of the people in the Middle
East," she said. "Certainly, initial steps away from sponsorship of
terrorism are a smart move."
According to South Korea's chief security adviser, the North
Korean government realized that with Iraq neutralized, North Korean
had no tactical advantage in continuing to resist global pressure
for inspections of weapons facilities.
"This war on Iraq seems to have become a significant opportunity
in deciding the landscape of international politics," said Ra
Jong-il, the South Korean adviser.
In Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon noted that the war in Iraq
could lead to new opportunities for peace talks there. Sharon's
national security adviser, Ephraim Halevy, said Monday in Washington
that even though Arab leaders might react negatively if "a puppet
regime" is installed in Baghdad, they also have shown greater
willingness over the past year to pursue new paths to peace.
Still, Lasensky said, the Bush administration must not leave any
of these nations with the impression they could be the next target
of the United States.
"If the administration remains captive to their own doctrinal
declarations, and they take America down a path of confrontation
with other states that are not posing a clear and direct threat to
the U.S., they may stumble," Lasensky said. "The right lessons are
that sometimes, the U.S. has to act alone, but that should be the
exception to the rule and not the norm."
|North Korean national and red
flags are displayed to celebrate former North Korean leader
Kim Il Sung's birthday at the observation post in Paju at the
northern part of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between two
Koreas Tuesday, April 15, 2003. After months of demanding
direct talks with the United States about its nuclear
activities, North Korea on Saturday signaled that it would be
willing to accept U.S.-proposed multilateral talks, a decision
South Korea's top security adviser said Monday was influenced
by the U.S.-led war in Iraq. (AP Photo/Ahn
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