Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

More Tolerance Towards Foreign Civilizations
KURODA Toshio / Chairman, the Association for Regional and Cultural Studies

December 5, 2002
The United States seems on the verge of attacking Iraq in an attempt to sever the chain of terrorism. Terrorism is a form of illegal protest by those who have no means to vent their discontent. Discontent is immeasurable to begin with, motives and methods vary, and this indiscriminate nature makes it impossible to precisely define such acts. Imprudent military action against another country under the pretext of controlling such uncertain phenomena will do nothing but complicate the problem, let alone lead to a solution. Incidentally, according to statistics compiled by the United States itself, there were 830 terrorist incidents between 1993 and 2000. Of these cases, there were only seven in which a state was the actor, and two in which foreigners were the target.

As we have all seen, the United States has already attacked a foreign country - Taliban-controlled Afghanistan - as part of its military exercise to eradicate the Al Qaida. While this in itself represented a considerable transgression in terms of international law, advancing the concept of a "rogue nation" to attack Iraq based on suspicions of possessing weapons of mass destruction would be an even further deviation. The "rogue nation" in question hasn't engaged in terrorism even according to U.S. statistics, and there is no persuasive evidence of its having provided support to terrorist activities. In a word, Iraq happens to be a formerly pro-Soviet country that never got along with the United States. But if such a reason is allowed to pass as an excuse for launching a military attack on a foreign country, that relaxation in international law will undoubtedly bring about negative consequences.

Having rained bombs over Afghanistan, any U.S. attack on Iraq would unfortunately be seen by the region's people as lending indirect support to Israel. While the suicide bombings undertaken in protest by the Palestinian people are considered as being terrorism itself, there is more to the issue than meets the eye. Half a century of conflict between the Palestinian people and Israel has been perpetuated in an endless legacy of retribution - of protests by the former and excessive retaliation by Israel's national armed forces. The important point is that as a result, social infrastructure essential for maintaining the daily lives of Palestinians have been systematically destroyed. When the very foundations of your daily life is threatened, would you not stand up in protest at the risk of death?

The failure of the Middle East peace process has been caused by negligence of the principles necessary for resolving the conflict. Israel's repeated defiance of United Nations resolutions and its expansionist tendencies have been reflected in its brutal response against the Palestinian people. This in turn planted seeds of fear among people living in neighboring countries that they may be next, and raised suspicions among the peoples of the Arab-Islamic world who share a common historical experience. Furthermore, they are fully aware that the United States had acted to foster such tendencies. For these people, televised scenes of bombings by U.S. fighter planes and missile attacks are a direct reminder of the gunboat diplomacy of the colonial era.

Excessive reaction on the part of a superpower against a single irritant may work to silence the region's ruling class, but is certain to provoke hostility among the vast number of people who are irritated by the incompetence of their leaders. There is a lesson to be learned from Aesop7s fable, "The North Wind and the Sun." One hopes that a superpower would demonstrate a little understanding, tolerance and consideration towards foreign civilizations worthy of its status.

The write is former professor of the International University of Japan and Chairman of the Association for Regional and Cultural Studies.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

黒田 壽郎 / 地域文化学会会長

2002年 12月 5日





一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > More Tolerance Towards Foreign Civilizations