DAWN - Opinion; March 1, 2003

Published March 1, 2003

‘We have a vision to build a new world order’: War & globalization-II

By Dr Mahathir Mohamad


THE fact is that the poor countries have been and are being oppressed and terrorized by the rich countries. Naturally the poor are bitter and angry and have lost faith in justice and honour. And the last straw which caused them to resort to futile and destructive terror attacks is the blatant support for state terrorism as practised by Israel and others.

If Israeli terrorism is a response to Palestinian terrorism, then Palestinian terrorism, and terror acts by their sympathizers must be due to the expulsion of Palestinians from their land, the further occupation of Palestinian territory and the open support for Israeli intransigence and terrorism by the Europeans.

But the developing countries must admit that we are also responsible for the mess the world is in today. We have not used our independence and freedom to develop our countries for the good of our people. Instead, we have been busy overthrowing our governments, setting up new governments which in turn would be overthrown. We have even killed our own people by the millions. And frequently, frustrated with anarchic democracy, we resort to autocratic governments, exposing ourselves to much vilification.

The result of this confrontation between the haves and the have-nots, the developed and the developing is a world that is practically ungovernable. Despite all the advances in science and technology, the world is in a terrible state. With more than enough food to feed the six billion people of the world, fully one in six is actually underfed, starving, with hundreds dying daily.

Since Sept 11, the rich and the powerful have become enraged with the poor half of the world. And their extreme measures to ensure security for themselves have only amplified the anger of the oppressed poor. Both sides are now in a state of blind anger and are bent on killing each other. War solves nothing. War is primitive. Today’s war is more primitive than Stone-Age wars. The targets are not the fighters, the combatants. The target is the ordinary civilians, the women, children and old people. Whether it is terror attacks or military action, these are the victims.

In primitive wars the carnage is witnessed by the warriors. While the suicidal terrorists die with each attack, the great warriors who press the buttons see nothing of the mangled bodies, the heads and limbs which are torn from disembowelled bodies, the blood and the gore of the innocent people who an instant before were living people like them. And because they don’t see, the button-pressing warriors and the people who command them go back to enjoy a hearty meal, watch TV shows or moral-boosting troop entertainers and then retire to their cosy beds for a good sleep. Tomorrow they would make more sorties, to carpet-bomb more children, women and old people or they would press more buttons to send missiles to tear off more heads and limbs.

War is about slaughtering people. Newer and more brutal weapons are being invented to kill more people more efficiently. And now there is talk that the use of nuclear weapons is justified. Is it because the people to be slaughtered are chromatically different? Is it because they cannot hit back?

We must admit that our organization (the Non-Aligned Movement) has not been as effective as it should be. We may want to remain uninvolved and to avoid incurring the displeasure of the powerful countries. But our people are getting restless. They want us to do something. If we don’t, then they will, and they will go against us. They will take things into their own hands. Unable to mount a conventional war, they will resort to guerrilla war, to terrorism, against us and against those they consider to be their oppressors. They cannot be ignored any longer. We cannot incarcerate them all, for we do not always know who they are or where they are.

Sept 11 has demonstrated to the world that acts of terror even by a dozen people can destabilize the whole world completely, put fear into the hearts of everyone, make them afraid of their own shadows.

But their acts have also removed all the restraint in the countries of the North. They now no longer respect borders, international laws or even simple moral values. And they are now talking of wars, of the use of military conquests in order to change governments. They are even talking of using nuclear weapons.

It is no longer just a war against terrorism. It is in fact a war to dominate the world — a chromatically different world. We are now being accused of harbouring terrorists, of being Axis of Evil, etc. NAM has a lot of problems and issues which it must tackle. But at the moment the most important threat that we face is the tendency of the powerful to wage war when faced with opposition to the spread of their dominance. We cannot fight a war with them.

Fortunately many of their people are also sick of war. They have come out in their millions to protest against the warlike policies of their leaders. We must join them. We must join their struggle with all the moral force that we can command. War must be outlawed. That will have to be our struggle for now. We must struggle for justice and freedom from oppression, from economic hegemony. But we must remove the threat of war first. With this Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads we can never succeed in advancing the interests of our countries.

War must therefore be made illegal. The enforcement of this must be by multilateral forces under the control of the United Nations. No single nation should be allowed to police the world, least of all to decide what action to take [and] when.

Globalization must not be confined to the exploitation of the wealth of the earth only. Globalization must include the multilateral protection of countries threatened by war or hegemony. There must be a new world order in which power is shared equitably by all. The United Nations must be reformed. It must no longer be bound by the results of a world war fought more than half a century ago. Everyone must disarm. Weapons of mass destruction must be disallowed for all. And there should be no more research into making conventional weapons more lethal.

If it is right for an international agency in a globalized world to oversee human rights, business practices and the kind of democracy practised by countries, then a truly international agency beholden only to the United Nations General Assembly should oversee the military budgets of all countries, big and small. Trading in arms must come under United Nations supervision. Brutal ethnic cleansing must be stopped by a multinational standing army.

When Japan was defeated, it was allowed to spend only one per cent of its GDP on its armed forces. If such a condition can be imposed on Japan, why cannot it be imposed on all countries?

In the struggle to outlaw war and control arms, nuclear as well as conventional, NAM will find growing support from among many people in the North. It is a daunting task nevertheless. But unless we take the moral high ground now, we will wait in vain for the powerful North to voluntarily give up slaughtering people in the name of national interest.

Again I would like to say that NAM must struggle to outlaw war. NAM must struggle to outlaw nuclear weapons. NAM must struggle to stop the research and development of more and more lethal so-called conventional weapons. NAM must struggle to control the arms trade. We must work for a new world order, where democracy is not confined to the internal governance of states only but to the governance of the world. We must work for the revival of the United Nations and multilateralism. We must work to do away or modify the powers of the victors of a war fought half a century ago.

We know we are weak. But we also know we have allies in the North. They too want the abolition of wars, the slaughter of people for whatever reason. They may not agree with us in everything. But in the opposition to war very many will be with us. They are ready to oppose their warlike leaders. We must work with them.

This then is our struggle. We are not irrelevant. We are not anachronistic. We have a vision, the vision to build a new world order, a world order that is more equitable, more just; a world order which is above all free from the age-old belief that killing people is right, that it can solve the problems of relations between nations. For all these we must revitalize the Non-Aligned Movement. And that vitality can only come from our closing ranks and acting together.

Concluded

Squeezing the poor

IT takes some fitting of puzzle pieces, and a bit of looking into the future. But from disparate strains of the Bush administration budget a theme emerges. When it comes to a safety net for the poor, President Bush’s method is to shave away money slowly over the years and at the same time shift the burden to the states. When crunch time comes, presumably the states will be blamed for the damage.

In addition to cutting some public housing programmes, for example, Mr. Bush has proposed turning federal housing vouchers over to states as block grants. He’s promised to fund them enough to keep up with inflation, which would be reasonable except that housing prices are rising much faster than inflation.—The Washington Post

Bush doctrine of preemption

By Dr Noor ul Haq


SINCE 1857 the term “preempt” is being used in the United States “to occupy (public land) so as to establish a preemptive title.” It is similar to the military concept that offence is the best form of defence. The US administration is using the concept of “preemptive strike” to establish a preemptive control over an enemy country.

The Bush doctrine of preemptive strike apparently means that the US would strike at any country thought to be in possession of weapons of mass destruction or which is likely to pose an immediate or potential threat to the security of the United States. It is apprehended that President Bush may plan preemptive action against several countries considered to be enemies. Iraq is perhaps the first target. According to a report, President Bush has “authorized the CIA to employ covert action ‘in as many as 80 countries’.”

Being the sole superpower, President Bush considers that it is the legitimate right of the United States to act unilaterally wherever necessary, without the sanction of the United Nations, if it is in the interest of the security of the country.

The reason for a strike against Iraq was first given as Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction (WMD), — nuclear, chemical and biological. Later it was stated that Iraq had links with the Al Qaeda network. To establish Iraq’s supposed links with Al Qaeda, US Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected the contention that “Saddam Hussein’s secular tyranny and Al Qaeda’s religious tyranny do not mix” and said that Iraq had used its embassy in Pakistan to maintain contact with that organization. General Pervez Musharraf, while in Moscow, strongly refuted the suggestion that the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan was such a contact point.

The chief UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix has confirmed the allegation that Iraqi missiles exceed the range prescribed by the United Nations, that is, 150 km, and thus defying the Security Council resolutions on disarmament. On February 14, Farooq al Shara of Syria stated in the Security Council that the US had a “hidden agenda” and that the charge of having WMD was just an excuse. Some people believe that the US wants to control the wealth of Iraq which has oil reserves second only to Saudi Arabia’s.

There is also a demand for change of regime in Iraq like the one we have witnessed in Yugoslavia or Afghanistan in the recent past. Some Arabs are proposing the idea to offer exile to Saddam Hussein through a resolution in the Security Council. While addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 6, Colin Powell stated that the removal of Saddam Hussein could “fundamentally reshape” the map of the Middle East that would “enhance US interests.” This is a revealing statement. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says: “If the crisis ends without regime change in Baghdad, the credibility of American power in the war on terrorism and in international affairs will be gravely impaired.”

During the Security Council meeting on February 14, the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix stated that till then he could not discover any evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or that he had any plan to develop them but this does not rule out the possibility of their existence.

There is thus a division in the Security Council over whether to permit the strike or not. The US is threatening to act unilaterally in the absence of UN sanction for military action. On February 16, US National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice said that the US was working for a new US resolution on Iraq “to authorize use of force within weeks, not months.”

Why is Washington claiming that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction? The history goes back to the Iraq-Iran War (1980-88). Initially, the United States did not favour either “Hussein’s dictatorial brand of Arab nationalism” or the “Islamic fundamentalism” of Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. By mid-1982, Iraq was on the defensive and Iran’s troops had advanced within a few miles of Basra in Iraq. The US intelligence information “suggested the Iranians might achieve a breakthrough on the Basra front, destabilizing Kuwait, the Gulf states, and even Saudi Arabia, thereby threatening US oil supplies.” Accordingly, the National Security Decision Directive 114 of November 26, 1983, (still classified) of the Reagan era is reported to have stated that the United States would do “whatever was necessary and legal” to prevent Iraq from losing the war.

The administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush “authorized the sale to Iraq of numerous items that had both military and civilian applications, including poisonous chemicals and deadly biological viruses, such as anthrax and bubonic plague.” Thus, chemical weapons were used by Iraq in the war against Iran as well as against its own people (Kurds) in violation of 1935 Geneva Protocol.

Later, as a result of the Gulf War (1991), when the UN weapons inspectors were sent into Iraq they compiled “long lists of chemicals, missile components, and computers from American suppliers, including such household names as Union Carbide and Honeywell, which were being used for military purposes.” Recently it has been revealed that an Indian firm, NEC Engineering Private Ltd., exported consignments of “raw materials and equipment that could be used to produce chemical weapons and propellants for long-range missiles.”

Irrespective of the charges against Saddam, there may be a plan to fragment Iraq into small states like other Gulf states so that they could not be in a position to pose any threat to US interests or its allies such as Israel in the Middle East. The history of the post-World War 1 (1914-18) may be repeated when the Ottoman Empire was fragmented into several states.

Washington is also said to be planning for a military control of Iraq for a minimum of one and a half year, like they had occupied Philippines after the Spanish-American War (1898) or Japan and Germany after World War II (1939-45). According to BBC, the British army is being told to prepare for the occupation of Iraq for about three years. There may be variation in some details. To pacify Arab concerns, a civil administrator may be appointed by the UN to run the civil administration of the country unlike General Douglas MacArthur, who exercised “unchallenged authority” as supreme commander in Japan.

In any case, the American military would remain “the central player in running the country” at least for as long as necessary. The ultimate aim is stated to be to create a democratic government in Iraq and preserve its oil resources. On December 29, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell hinted, “If coalition forces go into those oil fields, we would want to protect those fields and make sure that they are used to benefit the people of Iraq, and are not destroyed or damaged by a failing regime on the way out [of] the door.”

As for the likely timing of the war, the weather is an important factor. The temperature in Kuwait rises to 100 degrees after the first week of April and later soars to more than 120 degrees during summer. Hence, the likely months are February-March.

The world is divided on the issue and, it appears that a vast majority is in favour of a peaceful solution and not for a war. Out of the five permanent members of the Security Council, as many as three — Russia, China and France — are against war. Among the non-permanent members some nations led by Germany are against war. On February 8, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned the United States against attacking Iraq unilaterally. He argued for collective action under a UN umbrella, for that would have “greater legitimacy and better odds of success.”

Soon after the Security Council debate on February 14, there were large-scale demonstrations against war throughout the world, including the US, Australia and Europe, where millions of people took part in peace rallies. This clearly shows that a vast majority of the people the world over is against violence and war.

Although, Saddam Hussein is not liked the world over for his crimes against his neighbours and his own people, the preemptive policy of the US is fraught with dangerous consequences unless it is in conformity with two basic requirements. The first is that a preemptive strike should be justified in terms of hard facts and not on the basis of presumptions suspicions alone. Secondly it should have proper authorization by the world body.

If the US alone, or in collaboration with some other countries but without the approval of the Security Council, takes unilateral action, it will unsettle the whole international system. The United Nations, whose main task is to maintain peace and security, would then become irrelevant and, in fact, the law of the jungle would come to prevail all around. The twentyfirst century world, where about a dozen states have nuclear capability, simply cannot afford that kind of lawlessness unless driven by a compulsive desire for collective extinction.

“Countries like Russia, Israel, Colombia, and India — jumping on the bandwagon — are behaving more unilaterally, and very often at the expense of civilian population.” Under the cover of the doctrine of unilateralism, Israel is taking punitive action in Palestine; India feels encouraged to threaten its neighbours, and China may like to strike at Formosa. Any country armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles may strike at any other country in the world, including the United States, if it feels there is a threat to its security from that country.

The lessons of the wars learnt during the preceding centuries should not be forgotten. The cooperative concepts enshrined in the Concert of Europe (1815) or the League of Nations (1919), when abandoned, resulted in devastating wars. If, in pursuit of self-interest, the history is repeated and the United Nations is ignored or pushed aside, the consequences could be catastrophic. This scenario should not encourage the international community to make the UN irrelevant through preemptive action on one pretext or another.

E-mail : noor@ipri-pak.org

Only J&K can change Article 370

By Kuldip Nayar


THE RSS has a fictional concept of secularism. One of its leaders has confused it with uniform civil code and abrogation of Article 370, a special status for Jammu and Kashmir. Both points may provide grist to the RSS propaganda mill. They may help it kick up a religious row. But they do not constitute secularism which is essentially a modern, scientific outlook, eschewing religious or parochial approach.

The concept embraces tolerance in which differences are recognized and given their due. It is not the denial of religion but it means that a state has no religion of its own and honours all faiths equally. The purpose of the RSS is, however, different. Its attack is directed at the Muslims. When it wants the Muslim Personal Law to go, it is really driving them up the wall.

Already dazed and demoralized after the Gujarat carnage — Chief Minister Narendra Modi defends it at every place to the embarrassment of gatherings — the Muslims are firm in the belief that their personal law is their shield against the onslaughts by the Hindu fundamentalists. The personal law has come to be their identity to which they cling desperately.

The RSS is itself to blame for this attitude. Its animus against the Muslims is so open and so strong that the community sees dangers lurking in every corner. See, how adroitly the RSS has managed to reopen the temple issue. First it eggs on the VHP to ignite the controversy and then tries to extinguish the embers. In the meanwhile, the BJP-led government at the centre seeks the Supreme Court’s intervention in the name of acquired land around the disputed site. The whole thing appears to be a well-calculated move to play the Hindu card all over again.

I am all for a uniform civil code. Article 44 of the constitution itself says in the directive principles of a state policy that the state should endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India. But the word used is ‘endeavour’. That there will be no imposition is understood. The matter should be left alone. This is not an opportune time. A proper climate needs to be created for a code.

Nonetheless, the Muslims should themselves ask for a similar marriage law which is followed in most Islamic countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh. The law prohibits the husband to have two wives at the same time. Such a legislation will defeat the RSS propaganda that a Muslim has four wives and produces many children who will one day convert the Hindu majority into a minority. Studies have shown that a larger number of Hindus have more than one wife than the Muslims. The growth of Muslim population is only slightly above the country’s average.

Regarding Article 370, the RSS gives no argument why abrogation of the Article constitutes part of secular credentials. The special status is for the entire Jammu and Kashmir, not only for the valley where the Muslims constitute a majority. A Muslim chief minister at Srinagar, a Sikh at Chandigarh and a Christian at Kohima reflect the country’s diversity which is its strength. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a leading freedom fighter, would often say: The acceptance of unity in diversity has been (India’s) motto throughout the ages.

The reason why the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir acceded to the Hindu-majority India after independence was the pluralism which attracted the then popular Muslim leader, Sheikh Abdullah. He became the state’s first prime minister, the title he could use under an agreement with New Delhi. He preferred secular India to Islamic Pakistan.

Whether Article 370 should be abrogated or not depends on the people of Jammu and Kashmir. They are the ones who joined the Indian Union and they did so on the understanding that they would have a special status. New Delhi was given only three subjects: defence, foreign affairs and communications. Parliament was prohibited from enacting for the state any law beyond the three subjects. If there is to be any change, it is up to Jammu and Kashmir to effect it, not the rest of the Union.

To go back on that understanding given at the crucial hour of accession is a travesty of obligation. It may amount to reopening the whole question. The RSS does not realize the consequences when it seeks to do away with the status which gives the state an identity. Instead of wasting energy on a sterile demand, the RSS should ask the BJP-led government in New Delhi to sort out the Kashmir problem.

The appointment of N. N. Vohra as an interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir is a welcome development because the conciliatory atmosphere in the wake of state election was beginning to dissipate. But he is a pygmy for the job which requires a tall man. This is not an administrative matter which Vohra can handle efficiently. Kashmir demands political handling. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman K. C. Pant is competent to do so. Why he has been unceremoniously dropped shows not only the fickle mind of New Delhi but also a lack of policy.

Besides the government, the different elements in the state have to show that they are serious about a settlement. The two points which will give it credence are: one, the realization on the part of the Hurriyat and other political parties in Srinagar that the independence demand has practically no support outside the valley. The status of independence, however attractive to the Kashmiris, is neither acceptable to Jammu nor to the Ladakh. The Indian parliament will never approve of any proposal which has even a semblance of sovereignty. Even otherwise, in the changing world scenario, the demand creates more problems than solves them.

The other point is the return of Kashmiri pandits to their homes in the valley. This is crucial to persuade a large number of people in India to go back to 1952 status and delete all central laws except the ones concerning defence, foreign affairs and communications. At one time, two Hurriyat leaders, Prof.Abdul Ghani Bhatt and Mohammad Shah Gillani, told me that the pandits would return to Kashmir only when there was a final settlement. I have protested against the ridiculous condition. I am told that they have changed their view. If they have, they should say so publicly.

At one time, Chief Minister Syed Mufti Mohammad looked like pursuing the question of pandits’ return to the valley. But then he has put it on the backburner as if he has encountered opposition.

Talks between New Delhi and Srinagar have not come a day too soon. And all parties in the state must be associated with them, whether they have any elected member in the state assembly or not. But the atmosphere would be more conducive if the country were to see the beginning of the return of the pandits who were, undoubtedly, induced to leave the valley by the then administration. The terrorists were also partly responsible for it. It is no use recalling the past. Still the presence of pandits in the valley will revive the Kashmiriyat which the people throughout India trust.

The writer is a leading columnist based in New Delhi.

Medical errors

President Bush called for the reform of medical malpractice law during his State of the Union address. And with doctors here and there around the country striking and protesting rising malpractice insurance premiums, Congress is considering legislation to cap noneconomic damages in all malpractice suits nationwide.

America sees tens of thousands of serious medical errors every year. It also sees a large volume of malpractice litigation _ litigation that drives up doctors’ insurance premiums and produces some irrational judgments. But these sets overlap only modestly:

Most victims of medical errors don’t sue, and the windfall judgments against doctors do not necessarily involve the most egregious negligence. So the system is failing on all counts. It doesn’t reliably compensate for error, and it punishes malpractice haphazardly at best.

The pending bill is modelled after a California law that advocates say has slowed the growth of insurance premiums in that state relative to others since the 1970s.

By capping pain and suffering and punitive damages at $250,000, it would prevent windfall judgments. That, advocates claim, would relieve pressure on premiums and make health care more accessible _ and such damage caps are a worthy idea. But the bill would do nothing to address the medical errors half of the equation.

While it gives doctors protection against unfair suits, it demands nothing of them in exchange. And by pre-empting all state malpractice laws, it would discourage more creative state-level policy-making. Congress’ goal should not be uniformity among the states _ particularly not uniformity on such imperfect terms. Rather, the goal should be to encourage states to imagine more constructive mechanisms to compensate victims, protect doctors from frivolous suits and encourage physicians and hospitals to reduce error.

— The Washington Post

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