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Interview with Ambassador Walter Cutler - 2003-03-10


MR. BORGIDA
Joining us to talk about all of this, the Iraqi situation and the diplomacy at hand, Ambassador Walter Cutler, President of the Meridian International Center and a former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and an experienced diplomat who served as a special emissary of the U.N. Secretary-General, conferring with lots of world leaders on peacekeeping issues.

So, this makes you perhaps one of the better guests at the precise moment for us, Ambassador Cutler, to describe for us the kinds of activities, if you will, or have some insight into. What is going on in this world of diplomacy now, with the supporters of this resolution, namely, the United States, lobbying in favor of it, and the opponents, France and others, lobbying against it? What kinds of things are going on behind the scenes?

AMBASSADOR CUTLER
Well, there are lots of things going on behind the scenes, and it's not just in New York. The bilateral relations between and among all of these countries come into play. There are all kinds of political, economic and even financial considerations to bring about a position of one country or another. But the focus is going to be on New York. And just hang onto the railing here, because there is going to be very, very intense diplomacy.

MR. BORGIDA
How in-depth does this get, Ambassador Cutler? Because you know that old saying, "All politics is local," and one might imagine one diplomat facing another and saying, I will give you so and so amount of money, or something else, in exchange for this. Does it get to that point?

AMBASSADOR CUTLER
Well, not as baldly as that. But what's interesting here is that while you have action in New York, it is really in the capitals of the countries. This is where the chiefs of state get involved. And you know, throughout this past weekend, the President himself, as well as the Secretary of State and others, has been personally involved. This is where personal relations -- and that's a lot of diplomacy, it's chemistry and what lies behind it -- come into play.

MR. BORGIDA
Well, play our play-by-play commentator if you would. Where do you think we are and what chance does the United States have of getting a second resolution passed?

AMBASSADOR CUTLER
Well, the jury is out, as we say here. One day, one hour, it looks bad from the standpoint of the United States and Britain and the others who are pushing for a resolution, and then, watch out. Don't assume that the situation may not change. There is going to be a lot of flux in the next several days here.

MR. BORGIDA
Will words here and there on this resolution be manipulated and changed to convey certain nuances?

AMBASSADOR CUTLER
It's possible. Already the resolution has been amended once, from the standpoint of adding on March 17 as a deadline. There is talk now that perhaps that might be extended. But I think the important thing is that we not find that Saddam Hussein is being misled into believing that the United Nations isn't going to take some action or, without the United Nations, the United States. In other words, he could misinterpret all of this talk in New York as indicating that there is no will. There is a lot of will.

MR. BORGIDA
Ambassador, we've talked about the details and the gamesmanship, if you will, that has been occurring. Let's talk for the last minute or so that we have in this segment about process. You've got superpowers lobbying smaller countries. Is there something that you would like to say about that? Does that strike you as unseemly, difficult, or what?

AMBASSADOR CUTLER
One might look at the relationship, for example, between the United States and Cameroon or the United States and Chile and think, how could this possibly be coming together in such a way that war or peace are dependent on a bilateral relationship sometimes where the interests are rather minimal? But this is the way the U.N. was set up. I'm not saying it's perfect.

As a matter of fact, I think out of this may come some examination of the way the U.N. works. There already have been suggestions that the Security Council, for example, doesn't any longer contain necessarily all the countries in the world that are important by virtue of their influence or their population. We'll see. But this is the way that it's set up now. Those nine votes are important. Those five nations with vetoes, that's the system, and we have to work within it.

MR. BORGIDA
Well, there is so much to watch, Ambassador Cutler. Thanks so much for joining us. And as we go to air, we're learning that both Russia and France are, no surprise, against the second resolution. So, we'll see what happens in the days ahead.

AMBASSADOR CUTLER
But, as I said, hold onto the railing. That may not be the final word.

MR. BORGIDA
We'll hold on. Thank you so much, Ambassador. We appreciate your time.

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