The chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee warned the United States and its allies that extending their war on terrorism to Iraq and other states would be a recipe for disaster.
Concluding a three-day symposium of Nobel Peace Prize laureates at which the war in Afghanistan was a frequent theme, Gunnar Berge joined several of them in sharply criticizing the military action despite its success in ousting the widely decried Taliban regime.
Might is not right. If it is utterly reprehensible that innocent civilians were targeted in New York and Washington (on September 11), how could we possibly say it doesn't apply elsewhere in the world ( in a reference to civilian casualties in Afghanistan).
South African Archbishop
"If that which is hailed as a success by so many is an encouragement to continue by the same means into other countries like Somalia, Sudan, Yemen (and) Iraq, then I think we have only seen the beginning of disaster," said Berge, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee which awards the peace prize.
"The victory of terrorism is if we respond in the language and the means of terrorist and we should not do that," he said.
US President George W Bush and other officials have vowed to pursue their "war on terrorism" launched in response to the September 11 attacks on the United States to any countries harboring the al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect in the US assaults.
US officials have specifically spoken of Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen as suspected providers of refuge for al-Qaeda activities.
Several Nobel laureates spoke critically of the US-led military offensive against Afghanistan, where bin Laden is based, including retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who closed out the three-day symposium here marking the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize.
"Might is not right," he said. "If it is utterly reprehensible that innocent civilians were targeted in New York and Washington (on September 11), how could we possibly say it doesn't apply elsewhere in the world," he said in a reference to civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
But other peace prize winners openly defended the US response, including East Timor independence leader Jose Ramos-Horta and Elie Wiesel.
"I have supported from the beginning the US actions against the Taliban and bin Laden," Ramos-Horta said.
Copyright © 2001 AFP