ASEAN nations should collectively reject Howard’s adoption of the Bush doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive attack which is a most dangerous form of state terrorism as it would make nonsense of the UN Charter, set the clock back more than half a century to pre-World War II and plunge the world into new lawlessness
by Lim Kit Siang
(PEtaling Jaya, Monday): ASEAN nations should collectively reject Australian Prime Minister, John Howard’s adoption of the Bush doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive attack which is a most dangerous form of state terrorism as it would make nonsense of the United Nations Charter, set the clock back more than half a century to pre-Second World War and plunge the world into a new lawlessness which might bring about the Third World War.
Howard said yesterday that Australia was ready to take pre-emptive action against terrorists in neighbouring Asian countries and that international law could no longer cope with the changed circumstances confronting the world where the most likely threat to any nation’s security was non-state terrorism.
Australia is the second nation after the United States to assert the right to unilateral pre-emptive attack on other countries.
On Sept. 21, 2002 in the 35-page document titled “The National Military Strategy for the United States of America”, Bush officially ended the deterrence military strategy that dominated the Cold War and declared a new pre-emptive policy to stop any adversary from challenging America’s military superiority and a strike-first policy against terrorist threats “before they are fully formed”.
The Bush doctrine of pre-emptive strike, now officially endorsed by Howard, is nothing but a new doctrine for state terrorism which negates most of the advances in global governance in the past half a century, undermining the fragile structure of international peace and returning the world to the law of the jungle where the strong could attack any weaker state under the pretext that it detected a threat, however distant.
The doctrine of pre-emptive strike is a very dangerous one as it encompasses not just a strategy of pre-emptive strike but of preventive war.
As a critic of the Bush doctrine had pointed out, for a preventive war to be launched, a state need only imagine itself to be under threat. With such an idea, the line between self-defence and aggression become hopelessly blurred.
Under the doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive strike, disregarding the international architecture of multilateralism and the established processes of the United Nations, a state, in particular a world hegemon like the United States or its proxy, may not only go to war on the basis of an imagined threat, it also arrogates to itself the right to decide alone when such a threat exists.
ASEAN and the rest of the international community must reject the Bush and Howard doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive strike and not to allow it to hijack the anti-terrorism agenda by foisting a more dangerous form of state terrorism to undermine the United Nations, weaken international law and plunge the world into a new lawlessness.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman