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War That Leaves the Question of Conscience Unasked

February 17, 1991| Excerpts of commentary from newspapers around the Pacific Rim

TAIWAN — "The (Persian Gulf War) is much cleaner than previous wars. The enemy is merely a strategic target, several hundreds of miles away and totally invisible. . . . It is unnecessary to pull a trigger; instead, all we have to do is just push buttons. We are relatively free from facing the question of conscience."

--Liberty Times columnist

"After World War II, and the no-war constitution that followed, Japan became a nation of shopkeepers. It should be allowed to remain that way. The United States and other Western democracies should not try to involve Japan in the war against Iraq other than accepting its financial contributions. . . . Asian and Pacific . . . peoples have a long memory of Japanese marauders during WWII."

--China News editorial

"Several factors make the present (anti-war) movement (in the United States) quite different from that during the Vietnam War. The biggest difference is that anti-war activists do not think the war in the Gulf is a criminal act. They have not treated Saddam Hussein as a hero and American soldiers as war machines that kill Vietnamese babies. They advocate peace but are also patriotic this time."

--Liberty Times columnist


"In Japan today, the generations who have not experienced the war have become the majority. Nothing could be more tragic or precarious than to have people who have not experienced the stark tragedy of war discussing the course of events as if they were watching some kind of athletic competition. . . . This is not a television game."

--Mainichi Daily News editorial

"Behind Western frustrations with us and the Germans lurk the implicit expectation that both our nations belong to the family of liberal Western democracies. Is it time, therefore, for both our nations to come home to the West? Our friends in America and Europe think so. Why don't we?"

--Japan Times editorial on debate over Japanese contribution to Gulf coalition

"We are faced with the dilemma that our willingness to endlessly supply financial assistance will only help prolong the war. We should be concentrating our resources on ending the war itself."

--Nishi Nippon editorial

"I wonder how Saddam Hussein thinks up such cunning and ingenious maneuvers one after another. His strategies are beyond conventional concepts. I do not admire Hussein, but I wish we corporate leaders had more originality."

--Yutaka Okamura, president of a machinery manufacturer


"Soon (the Malaysian government) will face a ticklish problem: Whether to allow Malaysian Muslims to perform the annual pilgrimage to Mecca should the war extend in May and June. . . . Every Muslim hopes for death during a pilgrimage, but casualties among the pilgrims as a result of the war is fraught with untold problems for the government."

--Opinion piece in Bangkok Post

"Government television coverage of the Gulf War was cut in the South (last week) at the urging of the Fourth Army Region due to fears of increasing pro-Iraqi sentiment among Muslims in the region."

--News item in Bangkok Post

"Thailand has never been a major holiday destination for the American tourist. . . . Quite honestly, I doubt that of a population of more than 250 million Americans, 75% of them could find Thailand on a world map with a gun pointed to their head."

-- Letter to the Bangkok Post on U.S. State Department travel advisory warning, which included Bangkok


"What the weekend (anti-war) protesters give up is the carnival-like atmosphere of a Saturday morning here or a Sunday afternoon there. . . . What the allied soldiers may have to give up is their lives--and that prospect is certainly no picnic."

--Columnist in the Straits Times

"While 81% of Singaporeans surveyed (by the Straits Times) supported the use of force against Iraq, 65% of Malays disapproved of it. It is perfectly in order for Malay Singaporeans to be more anguished . . . by the war in the Middle East, which is an important point of reference in the Islamic realm.

--Straits Times editorial

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