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The Lessons of War and Terror

On 18 December, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, issued a warning, saying that London, Paris or Berlin could suffer terrorist attacks far worse than those on New York and Washington.

And this is after the War against Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaida, and the Taliban, has been triumphantly won.

The Taliban government lost all control, and a new government is to take over. Peace keeping forces are ready to step in to ensure peace. All the al-Qaida members are either killed, or captured, or on the run. Osama, well nobody knows what happened to him, but he is hardly a winner. - A clear victory. ... So why the terrorist threats?

Because the operation "War on Terror" was not what it said it would be. The phrase "War on Terror" was nothing more than another meaningless catchphrase that politicians invent to give their actions a semblance of noble purpose and legitimacy. If they really wanted to stop terrorism and make it a thing of past history, they would have tried to understand what terrorism is, and having understood it, would have found the solution to that problem. But this would have been boring - no slogans, no emotive appeals, no feelings of pride and power - all those wonderful things that only wars can bring. So, they chose war. And having chosen war, lost a unique opportunity to put a permanent end to terrorism.

The opportunity is lost, and what was done can't be undone. We have to seek new ways to a terror-free world from where we are now.

The politicians will be ascribing to themselves every success, shifting any blame on their opponents, and, if there are no opponents, sweeping it all under the carpet, or just shrugging shoulders and saying, "it happened historically".

This might be good enough for politicians, but for a real solution we need better understanding of where we are today.

Afghanistan was reduced by the war to such a state, that the only way to maintain law and order there, is to send in foreign peace keeping troops. How long will the presence of such troops be needed, and what is the future of that country, is difficult to predict. But the future of Afghanistan is a subject in its own right. We are concerned here with "war on terror".

Terror is still with us, and according to the US Defence Secretary will spread still further. In Palestine it has turned into a mini Afghan war. There, the Israelis hope to put an end to terrorism by imprisoning or killing all the Hamas leaders.

So, does it mean, that, if all the members of al-Qaida and all the members of Hamas, and all the members of similar organisations all over the world are killed (or imprisoned in high security jails) terrorism will come to an end?

Not really. ...

The presence of Arab, Chechen and Chinese fighters in Afghanistan was not accidental. Nor were they naive, gullible youngsters eager to be killed, so they can enter paradise. Such description might appeal to some Americans and Europeans, and make them feel better about the war, but it ignores the fact that Palestine, Chechnya and East Turkistan are areas of bloody conflicts and brutal oppression. Oppression which generates feelings of truly infinite injustice and desire for truly infinite revenge. Compared to this desire for revenge, the desire for revenge of the Americans at the events of 11th of September, pales into insignificance. For these people the choice is to live in a refugee (or concentration) camp, or in exile, or to fight and have an opportunity to kill and destroy, and to die with honour.

These feelings of enmity were not created by Osama bin Laden, they were there long before he appeared on the scene. In the case of Chechnya the source of these feeling goes back the 1550's, when the Russians started feeling the allure of the Caucasus.

The Palestinians in refugee camps, who still remember that they, or their parents, once had a house in Yafah, Haifah, or 'Akkah, were forming various liberation organisations under umbrellas of various ideologies, that would give more meaning to their militancy, long before Hamas, or 'Islamic Fundamentalism' appeared on the scene.

Osama bin Laden, and the al-Qaida organisation provided them with the opportunity to fight, kill, destroy, and die with honour that they were looking for, but were it not for al-Qaida, they would have found some other way to do the same thing, form or join some other organisation, or commit acts of terrorism on their own, as lone avengers.

The destruction of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and other countries, will not eliminate terrorism. It will only change the way it is conducted. The events of the 11th of September have shown that a small group of people, or even a single person, can cause massive destruction and deaths of thousands. One does not need al-Qaida to destroy a skyscraper, it can be done by a single person.

What would have eliminated terrorism was depriving al-Qaida, and all the other terrorists living today, and those yet to be born, of the justification for their militancy by offering them an alternative way to redress their real or imaginary grievances, by saying, "Present your case before an impartial court, and we shall present ours. The court will consider the cases, and, if it finds that you have a just claim, it will be satisfied, if not, it will be rejected".

The World Court of Justice is ready to consider the cases. It is now up to the governments, who at present see no other ways to achieve peace, but war, and their opponents, who at present see no other way to achieve justice, but terror, to abandon wars and terrorism and to bring their cases to the court.


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