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Bush's Absurd Strategy for Battling Terror

The spectacle of having an American reporter hauled off to prison for protecting her sources is not only a threat to press freedom in the United States, but an ominous portent for press freedom around the world.

By José L. Cubillán R.

July 30, 2005

Venezuela - Original Article (Spanish)    

In London the sun rises the same way as in Egypt, or so it seems at first sight. However the world's media agencies do not believe this is so. The 88 who died in an Egyptian spa received much less attention than the Londoners that lost their lives in the metro. The debate about terrorism is centered around the notion that this is a battle of good against evil, or as spokesmen for the United States call it, “a war against the enemies of freedom.” But what happens when deadly attacks occur in the land of the evil ones?

The result is that in countries with a Muslim majority there are cars bombs, with authorities constantly frightened by not knowing whether to shoot and kill passersby, because any passer-by could be a kamikaze.

The strategies to counter terrorism have an absurd parallel. Suppose you were a man that was determined eradicate HIV from the world, and you decide that the best strategy for doing so would be to kill all the people on earth who carried the virus, so as to eliminate the virus within them. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Yet this is the strategy that the first world has implemented to battle terrorism - attacking nations where it is believed terrorism germinates, and forcing Muslims in London, New York and Madrid to submit to the most onerous registration procedures. Ironically, the London attacks were carried out by Muslim young people that are second generation British citizens, so the bombers that carried out the attack didn’t have far to travel.

Meanwhile, the British police shot and killed a young Brazilian man who had trouble adjusting to the British climate. His wearing of an overcoat during the height of the summer raised the suspicion of the police.

Mass in Brazil for Jean Charles Menezes; a Photo of Menezes, Mistakenly Killed by Police
—BBC NEWS VIDEO: British Police Shoot Braziliam Man Eight Times, July 29, 00:02:34
—BBC NEWS VIDEO: Hometown in Brazil Mourns Death of Charles de Menezes, July 30, 00:01:24

The problem is that because of their tremendous vulnerability, the authorities in the developed countries are in a constant state of apprehension. The traditional methods of crime prevention, based largely on persuasion, fail when confronted by suicide attacks by people with nothing to lose. The authorities are forced to make use of lethal force - no longer to persuade - but to root out any possibility of success on the part of the presumed terrorist.

The West also overlooks an evident fact: the terrorists’ attacks have been successful. The central argument of the free countries is that nobody will change their way of life. But the fact is, it has changed. The English police, historically an example of moderation in the use of the force, now have a stained image after an unjustified death.

The United States has been forced to change the political terminology it uses to refer to terrorism; it is no longer a “war on terrorism.” In his speeches, Bush now speaks of “the global struggle against enemies of freedom,” a nice-sounding term with a more modest and pragmatic meaning. And what to say of Spain, which chose to withdraw from Iraq after the attacks on Madrid?

And terrorism does not look likely to diminish. On the contrary, the success of organizations like al-Qaeda will give inspiration to other groups to continue down the road of Muslim extremism. Ernesto [Che] Guevara thought that a successful revolution would give rise to other revolutions, and perhaps the same will happen with terrorism. If it does, it is not only be the first world falls victim.

The time to reexamine the politics of security has arrived, because England, Egypt, Spain and even Venezuela are now potential victims. In the final anaysis, the world is not so large.

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