Hans Blix: Caught Between Iraq and a Hard Place - MTV - 14 March 2003
Norris: Speaking of multilateralism, do you notice, as many have suggested, that there's an increasing unilateralist bent in the United States government?
Blix: Yeah. On big issues like war in Iraq, but in many other issues they simply must be multilateral. There's no other way around. You have the instances like the global warming convention, the Kyoto protocol, when the U.S. went its own way. I regret it. To me the question of the environment is more ominous than that of peace and war. We will have regional conflicts and use of force, but world conflicts I do not believe will happen any longer. But the environment, that is a creeping danger. I'm more worried about global warming than I am of any major military conflict.
Norris: Most of our audience was quite young when the Cold War came to an end, and I think that a lot of us envisioned a world that would be significantly safer as a result of that. So now that we're 10, 12 years down the line, are we a safer world, in your opinion?
Blix: I think so, yes. I lived through the whole Cold War and the risk then, the mutually assured destruction, the "M.A.D.," as it was called, that was very much a reality for us, that the world could be blown to pieces all together with the nuclear weapons that they had in Russia and the United States. I don't think that anyone seriously fears that the world can be blown to pieces all together. But what one can fear and rightly so are regional things, like in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, the Korean Peninsula, borders in Africa, etc. We need to have patience in order to try to solve these conflicts as well. Like I said, I'm more worried long term about the environmental issues then the use of arms.
"I don't think there's any reason for a rant of hysteria ..."
Norris: Do you believe that in your lifetime, in our lifetime, we will see the world rid of weapons of mass destruction?
Blix: Well it's very hard to dis-invent them. If you take the biological weapons in the United States we still will have perhaps a single individual who was able to make anthrax, dry it, and spread it through the mail and cause terror. So there's no way you can dis-invent that and chemical weapons have been the weapons of choice for terrorists as they were in Japan in the subway a number of years ago, so they will not be gone. But I don't think there's any reason for a rant of hysteria, no.
At the same time, though, one must not disregard and forget the things that are breeding these terrorist movements. Why do they become terrorists? Why do they become so desperate they are willing to blow up airplanes or buildings? Therefore we have to look at the social problems as well.
Norris: Why do you think there's such a reticence on the part of governments to deal with the "whys" of terrorism and instead simply go after the elimination of these terrorists in whatever ways they can?
Blix: Because the root causes are even more difficult to tackle then the symptoms of it. To wield the big stick and strike here and there and have big surveillance of telephones or whatnot, that can be done, but to get at the social conditions — better democracy, more education in the Middle East, giving the hope for the many youngsters in that part of the world — now that's harder. Look at the Palestinians with the huge, huge percentage of unemployed. What does that breed? Anyone who's unemployed in the world, you feel there's no meaning and there's a risk that you drift over to something desperate. Yes, we have to tackle the social problems as well.
Norris: Your contract was extended through June. Are you hopeful the inspectors will still be in Iraq in June?
Blix: No. I hope we have finished our work by that time.
Norris: That's optimistic.
Blix: We continue to work in an optimistic mood, but it may also be that the work finishes a week from now.