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La Nacion, Chile

The Temptations of Terrorism

By Raúl Sohr

Translated By Brian Perez

7 January 2013

Edited by Kath­leen Weinberger


Chile - La Nacion - Original Article (Spanish)

The tragic death of two farmers in Araucania, who were burned in an attack by hooded assailants, has sparked a wave of indignation.

The seriousness of the act, in any case, does not absolve the authorities of an impartial analysis of the phenomenon. It is a basic requirement in overcoming a conflict to have a correct diagnosis of the nature of the problem. Here, things are going in the wrong direction, judging by the words of Andrés Chadwick, minister of the interior, who stated: "The fight against terrorism in the world is not easy, but we will fight, and we will find them wherever they are.“

Equating what happens in Araucania to combating terrorism on a global scale is the first step in the wrong direction. The use of terrorist methods (because that's what it really is about) in the manner of armed clandestine struggles varies greatly from one country to another. Consequently, there is no crusade against it, nor will there be

Pretending that what Araucania lives with now bears some resemblance to the fight against jihadism is not living in reality. The jihadists, who are a tiny minority in the Islamic world, do not recognize the legitimacy of temporary power. God alone, through his exegetes who serve as leaders, is the source of legitimacy. Imbued with messianic vision, terrorism has developed two unique characteristics: suicidal vocation and the will to cause as many deaths as possibles so that they can be characterized as catastrophic because of it.

It is necessary to keep things in perspective: You cannot compare the fire of a manor house to the hijacking of planes that are meant to be crashed into inhabited buildings.

The United States, meanwhile, has suffered the consequences of applying the wrong strategy against jihadism. Terrorism, after the attacks of 9/11, was elevated by President George W. Bush to the highest priority level among the threats facing his country. The twin towers and the Pentagon were still smoldering when Bush announced "the first war of the century." No one could know whom this war would be fought against. As the dust cleared and al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks, it was evident that this war was not possible. In 2001, the United States began the war in Afghanistan, which it’s still trying to get out of. In 2003, it invaded Iraq, noting that it had weapons of mass destruction that could fall into the hands of a terrorist organization. The misinterpretation of that phenomenon led to the United States fighting the two longest wars in its history, with enormous human and material costs, along with poor policy outcomes. The Taliban are healthy and al-Qaeda still operates in Iraq, Syria and other countries.

To invoke the specter of terrorism in Chile simply to win international approval and justify emergency measures will not make things easier. The most effective way to resolve a dispute over a century old is to study its roots. Using the vast resources of the State, under the legislation applied to everyone, the country, with the cooperation of the public, should delegitimize and prohibit the use of terrorist methods. But above all it should listen to those ancestral claims and repair a historic debt that leeches down through generations.



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