Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - Asia's longest-serving leader said he sees a world in which powerful Western leaders kill innocent people without pity, as they strive to dominate weaker countries, using terrorism as a pretext for their behavior even though terrorism is largely of the West's own making.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is known for his outspokenness, but even so, his keynote address Monday to the leaders of Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) member states left no holds barred.
Terrorism, he told the gathered heads of state and government in Kuala Lumpur, was the response to "a revival of the old European trait of wanting to dominate the world."
It was all about Israel, Mahathir said.
"There was no systematic campaign of terror outside Europe until the Europeans and the Jews created a Jewish state out of Palestinian land," he said.
The Palestinians' struggle to "regain their land" had left them no option in the end but, "in desperation," to resort to "what is described as terror."
This is what drove terrorists, including the Sept. 11 hijackers.
"It is not religious differences which angered the attackers of the World Trade Center. It is simply sympathy and anger over the expropriation of Palestinian land, over the injustice and the oppression of the Palestinians, and Muslims everywhere."
Terrorism was condemned by the world - rightly, Mahathir said - yet the world fails to condemn "the more terrifying acts of the Israelis."
The Malaysian leader's speech to the more than 60 heads of state made no specific mention of the crises in North Korea or Iraq, both of which are believed to have weapons of mass destruction. Both nations are NAM members.
Mahathir's speech referred to Iraq only in passing, in the context of the suffering of the Iraqi people because of sanctions, and again at the conclusion to the speech, where Mahathir pledged to "work vigorously" to oppose a war against Iraq.
Israel, on the other hand, was accused in the speech of massacres, the killing of children, "the use of depleted uranium coated bullets," the bulldozing of homes while Palestinians were inside them, and threats to use nuclear weapons.
Unnamed Western military and political leaders, meanwhile, were depicted as killing innocent people by remote control, then retiring to a hearty meal, a television show and a good night's sleep.
"Tomorrow they would make more sorties, to carpet-bomb more children, women and old people, or they would press more buttons to send missiles to tear off more heads and limbs," he said.
Using the pretext of fighting terrorism, these countries no longer respect borders, international law or moral values, Mahathir said.
"It is no longer just a war against terrorism. It is in fact a war to dominate the world."
The NAM was set up more than 40 years ago as an ostensibly neutral bloc in the confrontation between the U.S. and Soviet camps, and today it has 116 members, comprising more than half of the world's population.
Since the Cold War ended, the NAM has been seeking a new role while fighting off sneers that it is nothing more than an irrelevant talk-shop.
Mahathir, whose Muslim-majority country is taking over the movement's rotating chairmanship, called on NAM members to close ranks and act together to oppose war.
"We are not irrelevant. We are not anachronistic," he asserted.
"We have a vision, the vision to build a new world order, a world order that is more equitable, more just; a world order which is above all free from the age-old belief that killing people is right, that it can solve the problems of relations between nations."
Six members of the NAM - Cameroon, Chile, Syria, Guinea, Pakistan and Angola - are currently non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
They will be grappling in the days ahead with a new draft resolution on Iraq, presented Monday by the U.S., Britain and Spain.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.