The attacks on Afghanistan are ineffective, “because it will result in a lot of civilian casualties. It will cause anger among a lot of Muslims. And it will not actually help in the fight against terrorism ,because terrorists are not all in Afghanistan." This is a quotation from what Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told journalists at the time of the recent summit meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). And such assessments were very much characteristic of the meeting.
Mr. Mahathir addressed the Brunei forum as a leading herald of a placid revolt against the US-led “anti-terrorism" war. The meeting started with the participants’ determination to adopt an anti-terror declaration. However, Afghanistan was not even mentioned in the declaration’s final edition, which was confined to general rhetoric. If the ASEAN documents had been adopted by voting, the majority of the 10 member countries would have demanded that the American bombardments be stopped. But a consensus is needed at ASEAN forums. And yet, Asia’s “velvet opposition” should not be regarded as nothing but cocking a snook in the pocket. It is not accident that the Hong Kong’s conservative newspaper South China Morning Post says that “fighting terrorism” is unmentioned at all in the summit’s final documents.
The forum largely focused on economic problems and on finding ways out of the current difficult economic situations the countries are finding themselves in. Interestingly, the member countries decided to set up a free trade zone for ASEAN, with China and South Korea subsequently joining in, which would be independent of the “civilized community.” Incidentally, Western news agencies have noticed a trend: some large Japanese companies have started to close their branches in the USA, citing an unfavourable conjuncture, moving them to China. Washington is trying to capitalize on the September terrorist attacks to tighten the screws and to strengthen its gendarme functions in the world. Still, the Asians’ gentle revolt may entail different results.
Andrei Krushinski PRAVDA.Ru Beijing
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/11/08/33572.html