It may be fruitful to treat terrorism as we do a disease process:
The unequal use of world resources and distribution of wealth feeds resentment eg. of the 20 OECD countries Denmark gives 1% of its GNP in overseas aid, the UK 0.27% and the USA 0.1%. The main fuse for explosive hatred amongst Muslims is the oppression of the Palestian people over decades whilst the West has stood by. Sustained injustice and systematic abuse of human rights by governments whether elected or non-elected stoke the fires of terrorism.
All nations should reject the use of terrorism within their own ranks. This has not been the case in many Middle Eastern states nor in the USA. The latter has sponsored terrorism in Chile etc and is said to be involved in surrogate terrorism in Colombia and Bolivia. Vietnam was of course massive state terrorism. A judicial response to terrorist attacks is less likely to provoke further terrorism rather than "eye for an eye" or the lynch mob. The holding and the use of grotesque armaments feeds hatred. One stealth bomber, the B2, costs £1.2 billion pounds and the USA has thirty of them. The cluster bomb contains 202 bright yellow bomblets for use against armour and flesh. The failure rate ie non- explosion rate on impact - is probably greater than the claimed 5% and looking like drink cans they remain primed to kill for years. It is thought 35,000 remain in Kosovo unexploded and unmapped. (Simon Jenkins, The Times, October 26)
Do we "root it out" and "smoke em out"? We do, but as part of a judicial process and with equal attention to cause and prevention.
Whatever, the USA has found good evidence that the cataclysmic attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon with a death toll of about 5,000 was orchestrated by bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network. A part of that network including training camps resides in Afghanistan and the Taliban (student) sympathize with it. However the majority of the highjackers were of Saudi nationality we are told and much of the funding flows from there. The Taliban have been the main targets of the bombing and being essentially a guerrilla army they are often close by civilians. This coupled with the known inaccuracy of conventional bombs (as via B52s) have meant civilian death, injury and terror. The Taliban claim that 1,500 civilians have died. When it all started we were told there would be "surgical bombing strikes" and snatch SAS-type squads would apprehend OBL et al. On World Briefing, World Service 3.00 am 6.11.01, Dr Maureen DuChattel MD paediatrician, was interviewed by Barbara Myers. She spoke of her work with Medecins san Frontieres in Herat in the three months leading up to 11th September when all the aid workers were pulled out. She was working with seventeen young Afghan doctors who she was helping to train. Malnutrition and associated diseases were the main problems and about 20% of those children were dying. She dealt with increasing numbers of children with cholera from the city and from the camps outside due to the scarcity of clean water and sanitation. With the bombing now in its fourth week that suffering will have increased. Mary Robinson and others have warned of the impending human catastrophe due to hunger and cold. This will be a massive addition to the & "collateral damage" suffered by those people already.
I have shown there is no moral basis for this bombing and a legal basis is doubtful however often Section 52 of the UN charter is parroted. The strategic logic defies analysis.
A few weeks ago and almost 2001 years since the birth of another baby, a young Palestinian woman from Hebron in premature labour was hurried towards the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem. This Catholic maternity hospital is renowned for its skill in obstetric and paediatric care. The woman was stopped at a check point for several hours by Israeli soldiers. Her baby who the couple had wanted for five years was born and died in the car. As she cradled the dead baby on her wet lap the blackness of despair would have given way to grief. Later the red mist of bitterness would have swelled to a terrible anger in her and her kinfolk. One speck of a galaxy of human suffering.
Mr Bush and Mr Blair. I am not with you, and neither am I with the terrorists. Instead like the majority in all nations I want justice and care for all suffering people and the little people in particular. Please stop your life denying 'policies'.
First Published in the Western Morning News - Nov 2001