Sir: International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War regrets the resort to force by the United States in response to Islamic terrorism. We abhor all terrorist acts everywhere. We sympathise with American anger at the attacks on its African embassies, with the massive loss of life of innocent bystanders. We accept that the US action is legally within the terms of the United Nations Charter, but Article 51 allows action in self-defence only until the Security Council has had time to act.
The US response to this action will only fuel the cycle of violence. Tit-for-tat bombings will continue, as the US clearly fears in closing some of its embassies. As security tightens, more innocent deaths will occur and there will be more attacks on UN and NGO aid workers. The Middle East peace process, already at a standstill, will go backwards.
If the US is to be a force for justice and peace, it needs to recognise the impact that violence has on the minds of the Middle Eastern people and on the global peace process. We urge the use of the rule of law at this critical juncture. Difficult though it may be, further US response should be through due processes of the UN system. The Security Council should agree any future military action by the US.
A month ago in Rome the US refused to sign up to the new International Criminal Court (ICC), which is intended to deal with just such atrocities as those in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. It must think again. If the ICC is to work, all the civilised democracies must participate; the most powerful of all cannot opt out and act as its own judge, jury and executioner. That way lies total world disorder.
Dr DOUGLAS HOLDSTOCK
Dr ELISABETH WATERSTON
Medical Action for Global Security
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