U.S. tells Security Council ‘self-defense’ to continue

Mike Zacharias

The United States told the U.N. Security Council on Monday the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are still under investigation and action against terrorist organizations in other countries could not be ruled out.

“Our inquiry is in its early stages,” the U.S. ambassador, John D. Negroponte, said in a letter intended for circulation as a Security Council document. “We may find that our self-defense requires further actions with respect to other organizations and other states.”

The letter, the U.S. explanation of airstrikes against Afghanistan, did not specify organizations or countries under suspicion of terrorist attacks.

Britain, in another letter to the Security Council, said its military action with the United States had been planned carefully against the al-Qaeda terrorist organization and the Taliban government.

“Targets have (been) selected with extreme care to minimize the risk to civilians,” said the British mission’s charge d’affairs, Stewart Eldon. “It is important to underline that these operations are not directed against the Afghan population, nor against Islam.”

In his first statement since the U.S. offensive against Afghanistan, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday that worldwide cooperation is needed in the fight against terrorism.

“To defeat terrorism, we need a sustained effort and a broad strategy to unite all nations, and address all aspects of the scourge we face,” Annan said. “The cause must be pursued by all the states of the world, working together and using many different means – including political, legal, diplomatic and financial means.”

Annan also addressed the importance of the international community working to encourage a “political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan.”

“The United Nations is actively engaged in promoting the creation of a fully representative, multi-ethnic and broad-based Afghan government,” Annan said.

Although communication between the United States and the United Nations continues, the United States does not need U.N. approval for military action.

Stephen Cimbala, a political science professor at Penn State University, said the United States didn’t even request the U.N. Security Council’s permission for the attacks.

“The U.S. cited its own right of self-defense,” Cimbala said. “Nonetheless, the U.S. has a de facto Security Council approval by the fact that the major powers, including the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the big five, so to say, appear to be in unanimity on this.”

The council consists of five permanent members – United States, Britain, the Russian Federation, China and France – that hold veto power over Security Council decisions.

Cimbala also said it is doubtful the United States will be questioned by the United Nations for tactics used in the offensives.

“I don’t see the United Nations playing big in finger-pointing at the tactics used,” Cimbala said. “For one thing, the U.S. has lined up not only all of the great powers but a significant number of Arab and Islamic countries on its side. So there wouldn’t be anybody to point the finger.”

Cimbala said the United Nations would be geared more toward post-conflict issues – namely humanitarian aid to refugees and finding a replacement for the Taliban leadership.

“The years of civil war plus the years of the Taliban, and before that the Soviet invasion, essentially have destroyed a country,” Cimbala said. “Now somebody’s going to have to put Humpty Dumpty back together again and keep him propped up on a wall.”

– Wire services contributed to this report.