Global politics since 9/11 discussed in a seminar on: War in times of peace (Part 1 of 2) [Archives:2002/45/Reportage]

November 4 2002

By Mohammed al-Qadhi
Yemen Times Staff
A two-day “War in Times of Peace: International Relations after September 11th” seminar wound up Oct. 31.
Participants from seven countries including Yemen, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, and Japan took part in the event.
In his speech to the audience, Dr. Abdulkareem al-Iryani said that the September 11 incidents have raised a number of questions on how the international relations should be. He said Arabs and Muslims should not feel hesitant in condemning such heinous acts, focusing on the importance of dialogue in relations between all peoples.
However, he said Arabs have the right to get free of the oppressions posed on Palestinians for over half a century. He said history stands a witness that tyranny and oppressions breed violence and extremism.
Prince Turki al-Faisal , Head of the Kind Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, highlighted the impacts of these incidents on the Arabian Peninsula.
He said the title of the event should be “peace in times of war” as the region has been living in war for a long time, adding that this issue has to be debated with open-mindedness and frankness.
He said these incidents have imposed greater impacts on the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab world at large.
He pointed out the differences and misunderstanding that ha affected the US-Saudi relations after the September 11.
He said the region needs now reform, needs democracy and human rights.
He highly praised the Yemeni democratization, pluralism and opening of public participation.
He also highlighted some changes that have taken place in Saudi Arabia, starting with the establishment of the Shura Council in 1993 and the criticisms of the Saudi shortcomings in the press.
He claimed such a step is good. He said one of the main issues that should be discussed is the US bias towards Israel, adding that agitates the anger of all Arab and Muslim people.
Dr. Abdulaziz al-Makaleh, Head of the Yemeni Center for Research and Studies said that the next conflict is not that of civilizations or religions, rather it is political based on economic interests, adding that religion is used as an instrument in this conflict.
He pointed out that the war on terrorism has been associated with some misinterpretations considering the fight of peoples for independence and dignity as acts of sabotage.
He said that terrorism can not be overcome by force but by studying its roots and reasons. He said it is easy to destroy villages and cities but it is difficult to uproot ideas and views in minds. He said dealing with terrorism from the point of view of the US has put the world into a fix.
Mr. François Burgat, director of the French Center for Archeology and Social Sciences pointed out in his speech that what are needed now are joint efforts to find out solutions for upcoming problems rather bringing closer peoples and religions or cultures, adding that the world needs some kind of international justice
Here are some abstracts of the research papers presented in the event.
Dr Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh,
Coexistence of cultures … or a guardianship that leads to disaster?
This paper aims to welcome all the participants to this seminar and attempts to set out two issues that differ in initial stages but overlap in consequences. These two issues are – the coexistence of cultures or struggle of cultures? and waging war against terror or rather studying the causes of terror?
Civilization is not urbanism or architectural and technical advancement. It is by far deeper than that. It is the set of human, ethical and behavioral characteristics that human beings, from all races and lands, have achieved. The struggle is not between civilizations, as it is aleged, nor between religions. The present and potential struggle is a political one based on economic greed to appropriate earth resources and to control world’s politics.
Regarding the second issue of terrorism, it is to be observed that this issue is witnessing unjustifiable confusion when legitimate struggle of peoples against oppression has turned to be terrorism. It is a deliberate confusion that aims at exploiting instinctive human avoidance of terror in order to strengthen domination and to settle historical or current accounts with some peoples. This will only lead to cover up real terrorism and to brand it as legitimate as resistance. It is to be noticed in this regard that the use of force in dealing with terrorism is illogical and unacceptable.
Dr. Paul Dresh, Oxford University, Britain
Sorcerers, States and Empires : Patterns of World Power
Events since the attack on New York have raised questions about the nature of United States power as well as of short-term policy. Oddly, all the old voices of thirty years ago are heard again. More recent work, by comparison, is of little use, since the distinguishing feature of for instance “globalisation” literature is that it leaves out states and empires.
By comparison with older, European systems, domination by the US is usually invisible both at the centre of power and at the periphery. An equivalent to older third world nationalism is hard to conceptualise in these conditions, let alone to actualise. The sorcerers and magicians who formed a more “exotic” part of resistance to European power, but politically were impotent, become a normal part of world affairs.
The paper examines the contrast between current forms of power and those before World War II, the continuity of certain US views of the world, and the implications for other states of a system that, while not “imperialist” necessarily, is imperial in its scope and logic. Within that framework I shall touch on current actions and likely actions in the Middle East.
Dr Masato Iizuka, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Japan after September 11th
For a long time, Japanese foreign policy was formed with two major objectives: keeping good relationship with U.S., the biggest customer of Japanese products, and building friendly relations with Muslim countries to secure a supply of oil. Since these two objectives sometimes led counter each other, Japan took the different line from the U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, such as her consistent support for Palestinians and maintaining her diplomatic relationship with Iran even after the Islamic revolution.
However, 9/11 obliged Japan, even if temporally, to give up this relatively independent policy. As a matter of fact, without any consideration of Muslim countries, Japanese government immediately decided to join the US-led “global war against terrorism”.
And to justify this decision, hot discussion in Japanese media was completely neglected. The government adopted the US understanding of September 11th as her own, that is, attacks against “freedom and democracy”. Furthermore, to get the support of public opinion, she suddenly began to condemn the Taliban government for its infringement upon human rights, and promised of her own initiative to contribute financially the reconstruction of Afghanistan after the defeat of it. In my paper, I will present first the hot debates in Japan after September 11th and its unexpected results. Then I will move to analyze why Japan, though not being directly targeted by Al Qaeda, participated in “anti-terrorist war” so quickly.
In addition to the consideration of U.S. economic importance, there were several reasons for Japan’s decision. For example, Japanese government seemed very afraid that U.S. retreats from East Asia as a result of Japanese hesitation to join the war. Unlike NATO in Europe, East Asia has failed to establish any security institution so far. Therefore Japanese government thinks the U.S. presence in this region is more important than elsewhere.
Dr Michael Ehrke, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Germany
American and European Foreign Policies : Common Grounds and Tensions
Tension between the U.S. and the EU have intensified. These tensions are not an “atmospherical” distortion of an otherwise well working partnership but “structural”: A result of a new global constellation after the end of the Cold War. Underlying the current tensions there is a fundamental difference about the way in which the post-Cold War world should be governed.
The (“Kantian”) external policy approach of the EU is fundamentally opposed to the (“Hobbesian”) American approach. Therefore, several policy divergences (regarding the UN, non-military international aid, international treaties, the Middle East, so-called rogue states etc.) did emerge even before September 11th.
The terror attacks of New York caused a great wave of solidarity within the whole of Europe. Moreover, the “War against terror”, announced by president Bush, seemed to provide an optimal formula to overcome the old divergences and lay the groundwork for new transatlantic cooperation. In reality, European hopes for a “soft power-war” against terrorism did not materialise, on the contrary. Instead of a “multilateral” strategy the U.S. preferred a ad hoc-coalition (coined internationalism ? la carte) with an only limited role of international organisations. And with the announcement of the Iraq-war transatlantic divergences and tensions reached a new peak.
What are the options of the EU vis a vis the U.S.? In the current debate mainly three options are considered : a policy of rearmament and military modernisation aiming at balancing the American military power ; a policy aiming at increasing the strategic value of Europe for the U.S. and, consequently, increasing influence on American decision building; and a policy of appeasement and the abandonment of an autonomous global political role of the EU.
In the foreseeable future, the EU has no military option vis-à-vis the U.S. – and it should not search one. Instead, the E.U. and its members should systematically extend and perfect its civilian power instruments. Thereby, the Union will have to accept that its direct influence largely remains limited to the European peace zone – but it has also to accept that this zone will, albeit incrementally.
Dr Tomoko Yamagishi, Japan
Non-Japanese Muslims after the September 11th, Self-Reliance victimized in Japanese Inconsistency
This paper shows two incidents of non-Japanese Muslims in Japan after the 11th of September : the multi-national Muslims appeal against the bombing on Afghanistan in the November 2001, and the arrest of some Pakistanis in last March. Those are little known domestic affairs even in Japan inconsistency and the well find that those affairs illustrate the Japanese inconsistency and the impromptu response without a long-term vision to cope with the US policy.
Part 2 to be published next week.