Former US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
Former top ranking US defense and foreign policy figure Paul Wolfowitz has hit out at his own country and former Soviet satellite states in Central Europe — including the Czech Republic — for not doing more to help Libyan rebels fighting the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Speaking at a two-day conference in Prague to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the end of the Soviet led military alliance, the Warsaw Pact, the former US Deputy Secretary of Defense and ex-President of the World Bank said it was to be regretted that key countries have not come forward to recognize the rebels as the rightful government there.
“About 20 countries have recognized [them]. Unfortunately, the US has not done that and neither have the countries of the former Warsaw Pact … This is a step that could hasten end of the Gaddafi regime,” said Wolfowitz, who was Undersecretary of State for Defense from 1989 to 1993 during George H.W Bush’s presidential term. Wolfowitz said he hoped the countries of Central Europe ‘that experienced freedom 20 years ago will do more to help these Arabs.’
Wolfowitz said he hoped the countries of Central Europe “that experienced freedom 20 years ago will do more to help these Arabs.” He said the US and NATO was in danger of making the same mistake over Libya as it had in the early days of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, by preferring stability and the existing well-armed regime in power to the opposition, breakaway groups.
The US has so far refused to give full recognition to the interim rebel government in Libya, describing it only as a “legitimate and credible interlocutor of the Libyan people.” The center-right Czech government has looked at practical ways of helping the rebels but has stopped short of offering them recognition.
Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain are among the European countries that have come out and said that the Libyan National Transitional Council is the legitimate government in that country, which has been gripped by a civil war since February following an uprising against the regime in power for almost 42 years.
As well as the embarrassing challenge to the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, jointly hosting the “Europe – Whole and Free” conference, there were other attacks on current foreign policy from its past practitioners.
Former West German State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jürgen Sudhoff said it was lamentable that the better relations with Russia had not been forged at the end of the Cold War and the “Common European Home’ spoken about by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev had not been created. “Filling in the vacuum after the end of the Cold War has not been completed,” Sudhoff said.
A great opportunity to build better relations with Russia existed by trying to integrate Russia in plans for a new anti-missile defense system being worked out by NATO, the top German official between 1985 and 1991 said.
The Warsaw Pact was signed out of existence in Prague on July 1, 1991, drawing a line under its 36-year history. The then Czechoslovak President who had led the overthrow of the communist regime in his country, Václav Havel, said at the ceremony that it was poignant that the country that had been one of the Warsaw Pact’s biggest victims should host its dissolution.
Czechoslovakia was invaded by Warsaw Pact forced in August 1968 as Moscow moved to put an end to reforming moves by the communist government which it feared had got out of hand.
Havel had been due to speak at the conference but had to call off the engagement due to health reasons.