Limiting the Scope of Terrorism
terrorism is a threat to our peace and security, and can strike any country
and any population group -- including Denmark and the Danes. While terrorism
is not new, today's terrorist threat is different from that of the past.
The terrorist attacks on the USA on September 11th, 2001 have moved the boundaries.
The attacks brutally underlined that the threats posed by international terrorist
networks, and the fragile states where they find refuge, are genuine and
concern us all. Access to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the technologies
behind them have become easier.
In September 2002, the Bush administration published its "National Security
Strategy," which deals in part with the threat from enemies either possessing
or attempting to acquire WMD. "We cannot let our enemies strike first," the
administration declares, and states further, "to forestall or prevent (…)
hostile acts by our adversaries, the Unites States will, if necessary act
The Danish Government, led by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, shares
the US assessment of the new threats. At NATO's Prague Summit in November
2002 he declared that, "In today's globalized world, those who do us harm
are no longer discouraged by geography or by traditional deterrence. Terrorism,
WMD and missiles are the new threats." Moreover, the Danish Government has
clearly signaled it believes that the use of military force is a key component
of international diplomacy and that the US deserves support in its endeavor
to continue its campaign against international terrorism and its roots.
The War with Iraq
against Iraq should be seen in the context of the principles mentioned above.
Firstly, Iraq posed a threat to the regional stability in the Middle East
and Central Asia in terms of its continued pursuit of WMD-capability. And
if Saddam Hussein acquired nuclear weapons it would have had devastating
consequences. We all agreed -- including the UN Security Council by its unanimous
adoption of Resolution 1441-- that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the international
community. Iraq’s use of WMD against Iran and the Kurdish minority in Iraq
in the 1980's combined with the continued refusal of Saddam Hussein to cooperate
with the international community on disarmament simply was not acceptable
in a post-9/11 world.
Secondly, one of the lessons learned from leaving Afghanistan unsupervised
under the Taliban regime during the 1990's was that rogue states and the
rise of so-called power vacuums create safe havens for ter-rorists and terrorist
organizations. In a post 9-11 environment this is not acceptable.
Thirdly, the Iraqi regime’s continued breach of Security Council resolutions
posed a severe threat to the UN’s authority in the international system,
which the Danish Government could not accept. The Danish Government deeply
regrets that it proved impossible to maintain the unity of the Security Council
in the face of Saddam Hussein’s blatant refusal to render the immediate,
active and unconditional cooperation required by Resolution 1441. The months
that passed since President Bush made his case in New York on September 12th,
2002 should have been sufficient to deal with Iraq’s failure over the preceding
twelve years to comply with the demands of the international community. Had
the Security Council faced up to its responsibility, the use of force might
well have been avoided. Instead, the coalition took action to finish the
job that Saddam Hussein never intended to complete. Furthermore, the Danish
Government believes the military action was based on sufficient authority
and legitimacy under existing resolutions.
Fourthly, we owed the Iraqi population an end to the years of suffering brought
upon them by a ruthless dictator. The findings of thousands of bodies in
mass graves after the war have only reinforced this notion.
Finally, but just as importantly, the Danish Government believes that it
was right to show solidarity with the United States in its fight against
a repressive tyrant. In the last century, the United States has come to our
help on numerous occasions. In the First and Second World Wars. By securing
our freedom during the Cold War. And by US resolve in the Balkans in the
1990’s, when bloody civil wars plagued the region and European leaders were
hesitant. We felt that it was our duty to support the United States when
the call was -- for once -- coming from the other side of the Atlantic. As
our Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated on March 26, "Only the Americans
have the military strength to disarm Saddam and liberate Iraq. But we have
an obligation to help. We cannot just sail under a flag of convenience and
let others fight for freedom and peace. There has in fact been too much of
that kind in the past in Denmark. If we mean anything seriously about our
democratic values, then we should also be ready to make a small contribution
to the international coalition."
The purpose of the coalition was to put a stop to reckless and illicit armaments
programs and to the ruthless and despotic regime which was responsible for
them. Denmark is proud to be part of that coalition. The Danish Government
has consistently supported the legitimacy and the necessity of taking action
against Saddam Hussein. This was clearly the right and only thing to do and
history will prove we were right.
Frank Laybourn is the Foreign and Security Policy Adviser to the Liberal Party, part of the Danish coalition Government.