Mahathir's remarkable speech on the war danger

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at
Tue Feb 25 01:05:38 MST 2003

This is an edited version of Mahathir Mohamad opening address to the 13th
Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement on February 25, 2003. He's the Prime
Minister of Malaysia. It's currently on the web at,5744,6038091%255E2
5193,00.html, but on a newspaper site I don't trust to keep it up for long,
so apologies for posting the lot. I think it's worth it. Mahathir is an
opportunist, under pressure from the Islamicists. But his speech will have
a great resonance. What has aroused most comment is his ironic suggestion
that if Iraqi victims are "collateral damage", perhaps that terms applies
to those who died at the WTC as well.

THE world now lives in fear. We are afraid of everything. We are afraid of
flying, afraid of certain countries, afraid of bearded Asian men, afraid of
the shoes airline passengers wear, of letters and parcels, of white powder.

The countries allegedly harbouring terrorists, their people, innocent or
otherwise, are afraid too. They are afraid of war, of being killed and
maimed. They are afraid because they would become the collaterals to be
killed because they get in the way of the destruction of their countries.

The preparations and the measures taken to ensure security go on
frantically. Trillions of dollars are spent by the world for new weapons,
new technology, new strategy; the deployment of forces and inspectors

The world is in a terrible mess, a state worse than during the Cold War.
All the great hopes following the end of the Cold War have vanished.

Surely at some stage we must ask ourselves why this is happening to the
world. Why is there terrorism? Is it true the Muslims are born terrorists
because of the teachings of a prophet who was a terrorist? Does not sound
very likely.

The Christians too were terrorised, not by Muslims but by fellow Christians
who condemned them as heretics. Seems the Muslims did not have a monopoly
of terrorism, certainly not on the scale of the Holocaust, the pogroms and
the Inquisition.

So it cannot be that Muslims are the sole cause of all these problems. If
they are not, then is it a clash of civilisation, a clash of the Muslim
civilisation against the Judeo-Christian civilisation, that is responsible?

Frankly, I do not think so. I think it is because of a revival of the old
European trait of wanting to dominate the world. And the expression of this
trait invariably involves injustice and oppression of people of other
ethnic origins and colours.

If we care to think back, there was no systematic campaign of terror
outside Europe until the Europeans and the Jews created a Jewish state out
of Palestinian land. It is the struggle of the Palestinians to regain their
land that has precipitated, first conventional wars, then civil protest and
violent demonstrations.

The Israelis demanded European support to atone for European crimes against
them in the past. In desperation, the Palestinians finally resorted to what
is described as acts of terror. Rightly, this is condemned by the world.
But the world does not condemn as acts of terror the more terrifying acts
of the Israelis: the massacres in Sabra and Shatila, the bulldozing of
Palestinian homes while the occupants are still in them, the helicopter

This blatant double standard is what infuriates Muslims, infuriates them to
the extent of launching their own terror attacks. If the innocent people
who died in the attack on Afghanistan, and those who have been dying from
lack of food and medical care in Iraq, are considered collaterals, are not
the 3000 who died in New York and the 200 in Bali also just collaterals
whose deaths are necessary for operations to succeed? Actually, the life of
any human being is sacred, no matter if the person is a friend or an enemy.
That is why war is not a solution.

Since September 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, on

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.

It is no longer just a war against terrorism. It is a war to dominate the
world. We are now being accused of harbouring terrorists, of being Axis of
Evil, etc. Fortunately, many of their people are also sick of war. They
have come out in their millions to protest the warlike policies of their

We must join them. 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.

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.

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