NEW YORK (AP) - They came in solidarity with this terror-wounded
But since they arrived, speaker after speaker at the World Economic Forum
has lambasted America as a smug superpower, too beholden to Israel at the expense
of the Muslim world, and inattentive to the needs of poor countries or the advice
With the forum wrapping up its five-day session Monday, some of
the criticism has been simple scolding by non-Western leaders. But
a large measure has come in public soul-searching by U.S.
politicians and business leaders.
Opponents of the World Economic Forum march through New York City near the meeting
of world business leaders amid heavy police security February 2, 2002. Between
three and five thousand people turned out to protest the meeting. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., cited a global poll that characterized
Americans as selfish and bent on arranging the global economy for their own benefit.
``We've not done our fair share to take on some of the global
challenges'' like poverty, disease and women's rights, Clinton said
Sunday. ``We need to convince the U.S. public that this is a role
that we have to play.''
Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates warned that the terms of international
trade were too favorable to the rich world, a disparity that feeds resentment.
``People who feel the world is tilted against them will spawn
the kind of hatred that is very dangerous for all of us,'' Gates
said. ``I think it's a healthy sign that there are demonstrators in
the streets. They are raising the question of 'is the rich world
giving back enough?'''
Held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos in its first 31 years,
sponsors decided to move this year's forum to New York to show
support for the city after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
About 2,700 corporate and political leaders, clergy and
celebrities came to discuss the world's problems, and have spent
much time dissecting U.S. foreign policy, its possible role in
breeding terrorism and the potential harms of globalization.
Few protesters turned up Sunday near the Waldorf-Astoria hotel,
site of the forum, on the fourth day of the conference. But mostly
peaceful demonstrations miles from the hotel generated 159 arrests
- the largest in a single day since the conference started - and
one case of vandalism was reported.
The total arrested so far during the meeting grew to over 200,
mostly for disorderly conduct.
In a curious convergence, the titans of business and politics at
the meeting have seized on many of the same socially liberal issues
that they have been accused of ignoring at past gatherings.
The forum's agenda may have taken some of the steam out of
street protests, which were sparse except for Saturday's turnout of
about 7,000 demonstrators, and has even paralleled issues under
discussion at the World Social Forum, an anti-globalization
conference under way in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
In Brazil, speakers on Saturday condemned the Israeli occupation
of Palestinian lands, with one comparing the practice to
apartheid-era South Africa's creation of ``Bantustans,'' which were
economically poor areas designated as homelands for blacks.
In New York, guests heard a similar message Sunday.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. national security adviser,
warned that Palestinian violence risked evolving into large-scale
urban terror, while Israel's response ``will slide into a pattern
of behavior that resembles the South Africans.''
However, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Sunday he
saw ``a ray of hope'' for Mideast peace. New talks with the
Palestinians could lead to a cease-fire, and mutual recognition of
a Palestinian state and Israel's right to exist, he said.
Jordan's King Abdullah II called for ``international
intervention to help steer the parties from the brink,'' arguing
that the ``burning injustice of Palestine'' had ``fed extremism
around the world.''
Brzezinski called for Washington to create a parallel social
campaign to temper the anger against its military campaign against
terrorism, to ``appeal to a better future'' in poor countries.
``It's very easy for the U.S. to slide into a kind of global
alliance for the sake of repression,'' Brzezinski said.
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chided his colleagues in
Congress for giving too much foreign aid to Israel, the largest
recipient of American help, and said too little aid flows to the
``I've been critical of the aid we've given to Israel,'' Leahy
said in an interview. ``But the same complaint could be made of a
number of wealthy Muslim countries. They're not giving aid to the
poorest of their own people.''
Copyright 2002 Associated Press