Too great a penalty

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 September, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 September, 1993, 12:00am

US President Bill Clinton's maiden address to the United Nations has put renewed pressure on the international community to accept American leadership in world affairs. From arms proliferation to UN peacekeeping operations and human rights, Mr Clintonset out his administration's agenda as the model for international relations in the coming year.

Although his aims are laudable enough, there will be many countries which will baulk at the idea of having his policies thrust upon them in this way. The UN in particular is likely to find his strictures upon its new-found readiness to become embroiled in international peacekeeping operations galling. The United States has led the way in encouraging UN participation around the globe.

In Somalia, especially, the UN is often criticised for acting too much as a tool of US policy in hunting down the fugitive warlord Mohamed Farrah Aideed instead of concentrating on humanitarian aid and peace-broking. Mr Clinton's warning that ''if the American people are to say yes to peacekeeping, the United Nations must learn when to say no'' will be regarded as a hypocritical attempt to deflect domestic criticism on to the international community.

In Asia, however, attention will focus on the control of arms proliferation and human rights.

Mr Clinton is right to pursue both as goals of universal importance. China's record on these fronts leaves a lot to be desired, although it has agreed to abide by the Missile Control Technology Regime and denies US claims it plans to resume nuclear tests.

However, the US has often managed to raise more hackles than support in the region by its ham-fisted attempts to act as the single-handed policeman of international behaviour.




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