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Action Alert 

Defining 'goodies and baddies' exposes quest for moral leadership

3 October 2001

President Bush's "with us or against us" ultimatum to the world is borne of a realisation that the United States' Middle Eastern foreign policy has been morally indefensible, the director of Massey University's Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Dr Warwick Tie, says.

Dr Tie said the "war against terrorism" was becoming a struggle for moral authority on the global stage more than the quest for militaristic ascendancy over terrorism.

"The US Administration has exposed its moral vulnerability in the president's confrontational words to the world's nations, in his address to the United States people and in suggesting that 64 nations - including New Zealand - may be habouring Islamic terrorists," Dr Tie said.

"The president's statements claiming whoever is not for the United States in its fight against Osama bin Laden is against it is an attempt to define the nature of the conflict in terms that will heighten the United States' longer-term strategic advantage. "

He said the US Administration must obtain global moral authority for the use of military force by turning the campaign into an internationally "popular war".

"The reason for this quest and the undue stridency of the President's words is that the United States' history of foreign policy in the Middle East is morally questionable, in the least. The US Administration now finds itself with a fragile moral foundation upon which to mount its desired militaristic response to the attacks on New York and Washington."

This crisis occurs as the United States' moral integrity of the US Administration is increasingly questioned in world forums in light of the regressive stance on globally significant issues such as emissions controls and the protection of fragile ecologies.

The considerable effort being put into constructing and winning the present "war of words" may well be a tacit acknowledgement by the United States Administration their country does not carry the moral authority it once perceived itself to have.

"The President's verbal assaults on the nations of the world, which effectively seek to divide them into "goodies and baddies" and thereby eradicate the possibility of neutrality, can be interpreted as the United State's preferred alternative to questioning its own culpability in the development of East-West tensions."

Dr Tie said the United States campaign would succeed if the world's nations assumed the belief that the United States had the right to grant to itself international moral leadership.

"Moral authority is emerging as the ultimate prize and the pursuit of that goal through the attack on the Twin Towers shows the US Administration knows to 'never allow a good trauma to go to waste'", he said.

Dr. Warwick Tie, Centre for Justice and Peace Development.
Media release.

Index page on Response to attacks in US


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