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Adolfo Perez Esquivel was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1980 for his work in human rights. Also, a sidebar by U.N. envoy Maurice Strong, who comments on North Korea.

By Adolfo Perez Esquivel

BUENOS AIRES -- According to Greek mythology, under Zeus' order, Hephaestus (the Roman god Vulcan) created the first woman, Pandora, and endowed her with all the the good that existed.

Zeus made her the custodian of a small box that contained all things evil. His express command was that she never open the box because it would provoke great calamities for all creation. Unable to contain her curiosity, Pandora opened the box, letting out all the evils that humanity suffers to this day. Only hope remained in the little box.

Humanity, of course, ought not to be weighed down by the fatalism of all that has been written. But it is nonetheless necessary to remember the great lessons of human existence and thus to read the signs that tell us humanity is headed toward great suffering.

The destiny of the world today is in the hand of leaders who can generate peace or drag us all to war. U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi -- "the four musketeers with missiles" -- have been blinded by the arrogance of power. Like Pandora, Bush and his allies are opening up the box of calamities. Unlike Pandora, however, Bush is not guided by curiosity, but by his greed for power and global hegemony.

Bush believes he can defeat anyone. He ignores the fact that the world mobilized in massive demonstrations on Feb. 15 to tell him, "No to War, Yes to Peace." In response to this clamor from humanity, the president said that "democracy is beautiful; it allows people to express their opinion." Acting as if such expression is merely tolerated by power, he pronounced that "peaceful protests will not alter my plans on Iraq." Evidently, his democratic convictions have been reduced to dust.

Like the sorcerer's apprentice who unleashes the storm he can't control, Bush is letting loose the demons of the military industrial complex and the interests of the oil multinationals that today govern the United States. Trapped in his own labyrinth of irresponsibility, even Bush is not likely to be able to stop war now. The military forces already gathered in the the region are eager to enter into action and cannot be contained much longer.

The United Nations has almost been erased from the scene as it has been pressured by the Bush administration, which does not want to recognize the results of the U.N. inspectors. Clearly, it expects the United Nations to yield and submit to its threats in order to justify the unjustifiable.

Since the United States intends to leave international law aside, upon unleashing the war, President Bush and those who support him should be declared aggressors responsible for crimes against humanity.

Analyzing the ties with oil companies of the Bush administration (not only by the current President Bush and his father, but by his National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice with Exxon and Texaco), the novelist Gore Vidal has made the point clear: the true motive behind the war against Iraq is oil and empire. Apparently, the cost of human lives and resources does not concern Bush and company as long as they reach their economic and political objectives.

There is also a connection here between Iraq and Venezuela. The attempts to overthrow Hugo Chavez' government and take control of the petroleum resources of the region aim to strengthen the global hegemony of the United States. The U.S. State Department has been implicated in the coup attempts against Chavez. Venezuelan oil is not only vital to the North American economy. Control of Venezuela's energy resources along with Iraq's would, de facto, place Europe, China and other countries under the imperial sphere of the United States.

A related situation that is ignored and of enormous risk for Latin America is militarization on our continent by U.S. forces -- including the Plan Colombia and, in Central America, the Puebla Panama Plan.

Bush is opening Pandora's box, threatening to free all of the evils of the apocalyptic beast, seeking destruction and death.

For the first time, all humanity stood up in unison during demonstrations last month, demanding the right to life and dignity. France and Germany continue to stand up in a strong front against North American hegemony.

All is not yet lost. Hope still dwells in the energy of those who are working to change the course that Bush and his allies want to impose on the world without their consent. There are still courage and valor in saying "no."



Maurice Strong is the personal envoy of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on the North Korean crisis. He gave Global Viewpoint his comments from Beijing.

By Maurice Strong

BEIJING -- The U.S. commitment made by Secretary of State Colin Powell last week of 100,000 metric tons of food aid for North Korea -- and the decision to provide 40,000 tons of this immediately -- is a commendable and welcome response to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's appeal to meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable in North Korea. When I met Powell in Seoul last week, I also expressed appreciation for the policy of the United States not to link its humanitarian aid to political conditions. I hope other countries will follow suit.

There are a number of different views of North Korea's intentions. The DPRK leaders have said they do not intend to develop nuclear weapons and that they are prepared to agree to verification and inspection procedures acceptable to the United States. Serious dialogue with Pyonyang, however, is the only way to test these intentions. This is also the best way to test the concerns of others as well as enable North Korea to respond to those concerns.

The longer the delay in addressing these issues, the greater the risk that hardening of attitudes will make peaceful resolution more difficult. The dangers of miscalculation, of reaching the point of no return, are all too real. Only the parties concerned can resolve the matter peacefully. The best solution would be a comprehensive agreement to ensure international cooperation for the long-term security and peaceful development of Korean peninsula.

(c) 2003, Global Viewpoint.
Distributed by Tribune Media Services International.
For immediate release (Distributed 3/6/03)