Mars vs. Venus

Hans Blix calls for critical thinking on WMD

In a speech at the Fletcher School on October 21, Hans Blix, chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, compared the United States to “an impatient Mars, quick to use its strong military force to solve problems.” He likened Europe to “a patient Venus, eschewing force and endlessly negotiating solutions.”

Hans Blix © MELODY KO

Blix, the former U.N. chief weapons inspector, spoke during a Fletcher conference on “Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Current Challenges and New Approaches.”

He emphasized the importance of critical thinking as it relates to such weapons. “The need for critical thinking is my overriding message to you today,” Blix said. “With avian flu around the corner, we are glad that our scientists and health institutions are working with more critical minds and more knowledge. Yet our public arena is full of unsubstantiated or exaggerated assertions.”

Blix said the United States misled itself and the world about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq leading up to the war, according to the Boston Globe. He said he doesn’t believe that the Bush administration “deliberately misled” people, although he does believe that “they misled themselves…And then they misled the world,” according to the newspaper.

At a news conference after his speech, Blix said that “the administration interpreted satellite pictures and Iraqi defectors’ information as evidence that weapons existed in Iraq,” according to the Globe report. In his opinion, that information was inconclusive. “They took things they saw as conclusive,” he said. “They were not critically thinking. They wanted to come to these conclusions.”

Blix said it is his hope that when it comes to arms control in the international community, the Venus approach “will…prevail at the global level.”