The Different Colors of Terrorism

Category: World Affairs Topics: India, Terrorism Views: 1639

One of the hijackers on board Indian Airlines flight 814 reportedly allowed a twelve year-old boy to play with his loaded gun. He then gave the child some man to man advice: if you don't get what you want by asking for it, then (alluding to the pistol) you take it by force. Upon reading this, my reaction was not unlike that of most -- disgust.

It's difficult to see how people can justify harming or even potentially harming innocent civilians. Yet, at the same time one cannot ignore the frustration brewing in the ever-growing list of international trouble spots. Though it's not acceptable to condone or justify such acts, it's not difficult to see how terrorists are produced. Anger, resentment, hopelessness, depression and revenge reign supreme in refugee camps, hospitals and prisons. Most would never think of perpetrating violence. But every persecuted people will produce a few that are willing to take revenge or claim justice, however perverse it may appear to us. After all one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.

Nations can organize conferences, call meetings and form alliances to fight terrorism until the proverbial cows come home. But the fact of the matter remains that terrorism is the only weapon of the subjugated and oppressed masses, just as it is increasingly being used by the worlds most powerful.

Interestingly, many of the nations now on the frontlines against terrorism were created through terrorism and/or continue to practice state terrorism to this day. In essence they perpetrate the very acts they speak out against. How easily many conveniently ignore that yesterday's terrorists now rule. How quickly we forget, for instance, that the Zionist terrorism of the Stern Gang and Irgun helped to establish the state of Israel, one of the lead nations now fighting against terrorism -- both real and perceived.

Nobody in their right mind would challenge that holding 155 innocent people against their will or attacking civilian employees of a Russian embassy in Beirut are terrorist acts. But raining down missiles on civilians -- who have no say in the policies pursued by their leaders -- for the alleged actions of their government is equally an act of terrorism; as is punishing civilians by strangling them with sanctions. And what about state supported killing of civilians in Kashmir, Lebanon, Chechnya, Indonesia, etc.?

How are the tactics employed by terrorists any different from what the world powers use to get what they want? Instead of pistols and knives, world powers use the Security Council and high tech missiles to advance their agendas and interest. Terrorism is terrorism whether a few renegade rebels or state machinery armed to the teeth with all the latest gadgets carry it out.

Terrorism will most likely plague the world for years to come. But we are not doing anything to curb it so long as the root causes of peoples grievances are not addressed and world powers continue to use force as they please. Interestingly, on the first count, Erik de Mul, the United Nations coordinator for Afghanistan, mentioned this very point to reporters after the recent Indian Airlines hijacking. He reportedly said, "We have to deal with the root causes of things that are going wrong in the world. There are many places in the world that deserve attention instead of waiting for things to develop into a crisis."

Amen. Hopefully his superiors in New York, London, Moscow, Washington, etc. will take heed.

Continuing to merely react to terrorism is clearly not the way to go. This only encourages others and allows the perpetrators to set the agenda and control us as they successfully did during the last month or so. We may be able to live with cancelled parties but how many of us would like to live in police states.

Many of the world's hotspots can be diffused with some common sense and fair play. Indeed, as a number of experts have pointed out, one of the reasons for anti-American terrorism is the unfair and skewed American foreign policy itself. Considering this, the best remedy to fight terrorism involves a proactive strategy. Give up on the philosophy that might makes right; infuse some fairness into American foreign policy; and take an active role in resolving international tensions equitably even if it means sacrificing some narrow national interest goals or some special interest causes.

Faisal Kutty is a Toronto lawyer and writer and is also a columnist for the Washington Report On Middle East Affairs

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: India, Terrorism
Views: 1639

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