Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, visited Hale Auditorium Friday to address issues relating to the aftermath of the war with Iraq and the future role of the United Nations.

Shabina Khatri
Richard Holbrooke, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, addresses the war in Iraq Friday at Hale Auditorium.

The Citigroup annual lecture for the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy was scheduled six months ago with “Making the U.N. More Effective in Time of Crisis” as the title. But the outbreak of war on Wednesday caused Holbrooke – who is best known as the architect of the Dayton Peace Agreement that concluded the war in Bosnia – to shift his focus to current events in Iraq.

Despite international debates on the legitimacy of the current U.S.-led attack, Holbrooke repeatedly said that the war is completely legal.

“Many people argue that just because they couldn’t pass the second resolution, (the United States) therefore couldn’t go to war … that was a serious mistake in terms of presenting the case to the world,” Holbrooke said to students, faculty members and other community members.

He said the United States has legitimate reasons for starting the war, even without the second resolution, because the passage of U.N. Security Council resolution 1441 – which requires the full declaration and disarmament of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction – has already given the United States adequate reasons to go to war when Saddam Hussein showed no interest in complying with international law.

“It doesn’t matter what your view is on prior to the start, there is no outcome better than a quick victory with a minimum number of causalities on both sides,” Holbrooke said.

He added that although the debate over war continues, the world should now turn its attention to post-war issues, which include the post-Saddam Iraq, relations with U.S. allies, Arab oil supplies and the future of the U.N.

Holbrooke, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. from 1999-2001, said the organization should adopt various reforms to improve its efficiency.

Furthermore, he said that it would be a terrible mistake if the United States withdraws from the U.N. because it is “indispensable to U.S. diplomacy.”

Students welcomed the opportunity to have such a high-ranking government official speak at the University.

“The talk was really informative and he addressed the issues students should know,” LSA junior Robert Singh said.

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