KRUSHINSKI: A GENTLE REBELLION IN ASIA
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
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.