Ambassador Baker interviewed on NHK News 10

Interview by Anchor Tamaki Imai
March 27, 2003

QUESTION: The international community has been divided on the use of force in Iraq and there is criticism against President Bush's preemptive attack doctrine. Could you tell us your view on this point?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: I really don't think there is much division - there's some, but not much division - for instance, between the United States and France and Germany. On the ultimate objective, the question really has always been, as I understand it, a question of time. The ultimate objective of disarming Saddam Hussein has been agreed on. And finally, as President Bush said, time has run out. President Bush, I believe, wisely decided that the delay was becoming destructive and it was best to go forward and he did that. I understand the attitude of some that this was a unilateral act on the part of the United States, but on the other hand it was the exercise of a basic sovereign right to protect your own national security interest. And that's what the President did; that's what the President said.

QUESTION: What kind of role will the United States take after the war?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: We quickly respond to the humanitarian needs in Iraq - food, water, medical services and other humane considerations that will follow in the wake of conflict. The United States already has huge amounts of material - of food and medicine and other things - available to follow-on quickly after the conflict makes that possible.

QUESTION: Will the United States expect the United Nations to play a major role in the efforts to rebuild Iraq after this military conflict?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: Yes. Both the President and our Secretary of State have said that we will work with the United Nations to see that this is done. The United Nations is a recognized institution - instrumentality - for bringing relief and assistance to nations in distress and I think they will again. And I'm sure that the United States will participate fully with the effort of other nations and the United Nations in seeing that the pain, misery and suffering in Iraq are alleviated as promptly and fully as possible.

QUESTION: What role do you expect Japan to play after the war in Iraq?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: I think that, given the constraints of your constitution, your laws and your culture, Japan has been extraordinarily helpful and supportive in our efforts to contain the threat of Saddam Hussein. And I would hope that after conflict in Iraq that Japan would see an opportunity to be helpful, useful and supportive in the matter of post-conflict address to alleviate suffering, to provide for the restructuring of the country, for advice, counsel and support to Iraq as it goes about the business of rebuilding itself.

QUESTION: How do think about the participation of Japan's Self-Defense Force to rebuild Iraq?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: I would not anticipate that Japan's Self-Defense Forces would be actively involved in the reconstruction. But, once again, that's Japan's decision to make. I can tell you America will not ask for that. I'm confident that we will make no such request. But how Japan decides to approach the business of post-conflict resolution is very much a Japan decision.

QUESTION: The United States has concentrated its military power to the area around Iraq. Do you think there is a possibility that North Korea could take advantage of this situation?

AMBASSADOR BAKER: I cannot gain a clear view of what North Korea's objectives are. So I can't predict what their attitude may be or is about as it relates to the conflict in Iraq. But they should know that they are not the same thing and they are not connected as far as the United States is concerned. North Korea is playing a very dangerous game and at some point the world community may decide that they've gone too far. But my hope and expectation is that the conflict or the disagreements with North Korea can be solved diplomatically. Our President has said that it should be solved diplomatically and I'm sure that there's much effort now going forward in trying to find ways to address this issue diplomatically and not by military means. The North Koreans must understand that there's a responsibility on their side, too, to respond, and to enter into some sort of arrangement that will reduce the risks.