Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fight Against Terrorism by Fighting Poverty

The real war on terror isn't going very well yet, but there is some progress being made.
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Recently, Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, wrote an article in the Romanian newspaper Jurnalul National cautioning that the current anti-terror tack of the Western developed nations (led by the US and UK) is, at best, imcomplete if it ignores the root causes of terrorism. Now, US Ambassador to Turkey Ross L. Wilson has said the same thing, joining a growing chorus of world leaders and opinion makers, including Philippine Chief Justice Reynato Puno, Peter Munya, the US Conference of Catholilc Bishops, John Edwards, Hugo Chavez, Fernando Lugo, Desmond Tutu, Charles Dickens, Muhammed Yunus, myself, and even Pakistan dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf . For the record, the late Holy Father Pope John Paul II believed this too. That sounds like a pretty good bunch of people to stack up against the likes of Feith, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Kristol, and the rest of the PNAC cabal that persists in Washington. I'll take John Paul II over George W. Bush any day.

Wilson told a conference conducted by the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and the Center of Excellence-Defense Against Terrorism in cooperation with the NATO-Russia Council that
Most people would find it hard to argue against the idea that terrorist violence arises, sociologically speaking, out of poverty, despair, hopelessness and resentment.
It's amazing how many people don't find it all hard to argue this point. To some, terrorism has nothing to do with poverty, it has to do with an evil ideology that seeks nothing but political hegemony. This thinking links up comfortably with the Bush administration's "good vs evil" approach to foreign policy. Besides, they often point out, so many of these terrorists went to school and had jobs...
It is true that terrorist leaders seem more often than not to come from middle-class backgrounds. But terrorists do not just spring forth from Medusa's head, and effective government policy will seldom just involve cutting off terrorism's tentacles. The causes must be considered, and constructive policies must be devised to draw people away from the dead ends of violence and despair.
Yes. Are you listening?

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