DAVOS, Switzerland - Malaysian Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad told the United States on Thursday
that "out-terrorising the terrorists will not work" and forecast
a long period of war driven by hatred, revenge and greed.
His warning jolted the opening session of the annual World
Economic Forum of business and political leaders in Davos, at
which Switzerland's president urged Washington not to launch a
war against Iraq without United Nations authorisation.
The mood at this year's gathering of the global economic and
political elite was subdued by the triple shadow of economic
uncertainty, corporate scandals and fear of a looming war.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's warning jolted the opening session of the annual World Economic Forum
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to address the
forum on Sunday amid a deepening rift between the Bush
administration and key European and Middle Eastern allies over
the justification for using force against Baghdad.
Mahathir, a veteran Asian leader, accused the West of
seeking to impose its brand of capitalist democracy by force and
starving or bombing those who did not accept that model.
"It is blasphemy to say anything against democracy. If you
do, if you resist, then you'll be considered a heretic and
starved to death or bombed out of existence," he said.
He suggested that suicide bombers and hijackers such as
those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, were
driven by poverty and despair.
"Out-terrorising the terrorists will not work, but removing
the causes for terrorism will," he said.
"The worm finally turned. The weak have now hit back in the
only way they can. Groping for the enemy, the strong hits out
blindly in every direction, in every part of the world. No one
is free. Fear rules the world.
"Sanity has deserted both sides. Just as, in the stone age,
the man with the biggest club ruled, in our modern and
sophisticated global village the country with the biggest
killing power rules," Mahathir said.
President George W. Bush's campaign against an "Axis of
Evil" grouping Iraq, Iran and North Korea, was doomed to fail
because it had the wrong target, he added.
Swiss President Pascal Couchepin spelled out the majority
view in much of Western Europe when he said war in Iraq was not
inevitable and would have dangerous, destabilising consequences
for the Middle East, notably the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Force must not be used before the matter has been brought
before the United Nations Security Council," he said.
"The use of force can only be the last resort after all
other means of persuasion have been exhausted."
The United States has expressed irritation at the resistance
of key European allies France and Germany to what they see as a
rush to war while U.N. inspectors are asking for more time to
try to disarm Iraq peacefully.
But former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans,
president of the International Crisis Group think-tank, said he
did not believe war on Iraq was inevitable.
Military action might yet be averted because of Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein's survival instinct in the face of a
U.S. and British military build-up, international pressure on
Washington not to act unilaterally, and domestic unease about
war in the United States, he said.
"I am naive enough to believe that war is avoidable," he