Sat, 26 Apr 2003

U.S. must be counterbalanced

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia needs to strengthen its cooperation with countries in Asia and other regions following the United States' victory in the Iraq war, observers assert.

Noted Muslim scholar Nurcholish Madjid and foreign affairs analyst Jusuf Wanandi said on Thursday the post-war period would see U.S. domination in international politics and that concerted efforts are needed to counterbalance it.

"A counterbalance is required, not because we consider the Americans an evil power, but because it is important for the world to have a check-and-balance," Nurcholish said at a seminar held in conjunction with the 29th anniversary of Pelita daily.

He suggested that Indonesia work together with Asian countries, European countries and other regional organizations to form a balancing power.

"Just as in domestic politics, a single power dominating global politics will be unfavorable in the future," Nurcholish remarked.

Jusuf, from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), also warned of Washington's growing dominance in the region after the Iraq war.

The imminent problem in North Korea will open up an opportunity for the U.S. to further seize power in Asia, said Jusuf, which had to be avoided.

"We should not just sit down and let the U.S.' plan materialize. We have to strengthen our cooperation with as many countries as possible to counter the move," Jusuf said.

The anxiety of possible U.S. hegemony in the world has emerged in many countries, as Washington had ignored the United Nations before it attacked Iraq and has continued to take the leading role in postwar Iraq.

Analysts have warned that the war in Iraq has set a precedent for other unilateral, preemptive attacks by the U.S. on other countries, with the world left sidelined.

Many countries have expressed concern regarding the nuclear crisis in North Korea, which could be the U.S.' next target after Iraq.

Jusuf said that the main reason for the U.S. attacking Iraq was to eliminate any possibility of threats from the Middle East, in light of its traumatic experience of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

The attacks had prompted Washington to establish an American- style of democracy in the Middle East to eliminate the threats against American interests all over the world, he said.

"It is a good thing that, regarding the North Korean issue, the whole region shares the same opinion in rejecting the use of force," Jusuf said, adding that this sense of unity should be strengthened to prevent further U.S. domination in the region.