OPINION

Playing upon insecurity

With three months to go before the US presidential vote, the outcome is still impossible to say. President George W. Bush has used up his political capital stemming from the overthrow of Saddam’s regime. Americans are increasingly realizing that the most difficult days lie ahead. Iraq has developed into a quagmire for US troops and Bush would stand little chance of being re-elected were it not for public fear of a new terror attack. Quoting vague sources, the Bush administration has sounded terror warnings and has launched a bid to convince the public that no other government can guarantee its safety. Sure, there is worrying information, but Bush is blatantly playing this card to regain lost ground. Should the terrorists strike again, Bush’s rhetoric will be vindicated. If not, he will say it was his anti-terrorist measures that thwarted the terrorists’ plots. Either way, Bush is safe. This political game has caused a reaction in the US. For fear of an unexpected event, Democratic candidate John Kerry has not gone in that direction. In effect, Osama Bin Laden’s threat has helped boost the Bush campaign. But not without return. Using the war on terror as a pretext for settling geopolitical scores, Bush played into Al Qaeda’s hands, reinforcing America’s image in the Arab world as a Muslim-hater. This climate is an incubator for vengeful militias. The war on terror will only bear fruit if it is coupled with policies aimed at wiping out the political factors that fuel Islamic fundamentalism. Only then will the relentless extremists lose the martyr status they currently enjoy in the eyes of angry Muslims. Only then will preaching about religious war lose its appeal.