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World Economic Forum Criticizes US Over Iraq - 2003-01-24

The United States is being criticized at the World Economic Forum in Davos over its policy on possible war with Iraq. On Thursday, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed shocked the opening session of the elite forum by telling the United States that "out-terrorizing the terrorists will not work".

Although a number of political analysts have delivered several volleys at the Bush administration's policy of preventive war against Iraq, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's stinging criticism is the strongest yet made by a head of state at the World Economic Forum.

"When war is declared against a country, a death sentence is passed on the people. When war is executed, the sentence is carried out and still we talk glibly about the sanctity of life," he said.

Mr. Mahathir said the United States would surely win a war against Iraq because of its military superiority, but it too would lose by creating more anger and calls for revenge and retaliation.

"The initiation must come from the good people. They must recognize that people do not tie bombs to their bodies or crash their planes for the fun of it," he said. "They must have a reason for it. We have to identify the reasons and remove them. Out terrorizing the terrorists will not work, but removing the causes for terrorism will."

Although the host of the forum, Swiss President Pascal Couchepin, said Iraq must be disarmed of any weapons of mass destruction, he warned the use of force should only be used as a last resort after all other means of persuasion have been exhausted.

"Force must not be used before the matter is brought before the U.N. Security Council. If war with Iraq were to become inevitable and if the conflict were to protract, we need to be aware of the risks of the resurgence of the Israeli-Arab conflict," he said.

The Bush administration has expressed irritation with key European allies France and Germany over what they call a rush to war while U.N. inspectors are asking for more time to disarm Iraq peacefully.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to address the forum on Sunday amid the deepening rift between Washington and European and Middle Eastern allies over the justification for using force against Baghdad.