OPINION

Commentary

The campaign against international terrorism will produce as quick a thrust as desired by the electronic media, especially in the United States, because the nature of the threat requires a prolonged and unorthodox response. Of course, the supporters of the war against Yugoslavia in 1999 recommended an immediate response to the terrorist strike. At the same time, Clinton’s leftist allies in Europe, who are responsible for the present chaos in the Balkans, have seemed to question US President George W. Bush’s judgment and abilities, expressing fears about an extreme reaction. There is no doubt that for reasons of security and prestige and under the pressure of public opinion the US will hit the state or states which, according to US intelligence, are actively fostering terrorism. But this does not seem to be the fundamental element of Bush’s policy. Bush’s aim is to create a broad alliance made up not only of America’s NATO partners but primarily of Arab states that host considerable American investments on the oil and weapons industry. It should be remembered that when former President George Bush organized Operation Desert Storm to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, he first secured the consensus of the major Arab leaders. The current Bush administration has crucial American interests to defend in the Arab world. And the struggle against Islamic terrorism is supported not only by the US’s European partners but also by Washington’s Muslim allies. Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, two of America’s major Mideast allies, are facing serious challenges from extremist organizations. The Bush administration knows it cannot consolidate Arab cooperation unless it promotes a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and adopts a more balanced approach on the Mideast problem. Despite public pressure for immediate retaliation, Bush’s policy seems to be taking these factors into consideration. The final strategy chosen will determine the extent to which the Bush administration is able to combat the problem of international terrorism or whether it will create the conditions for further tension. Up to now it has moved with wisdom and responsibility. In a sense, the USA is now paying the price of the Soviet Union’s collapse, as well as for the failure of the Arab socialism. The absence of a countervailing power, like the former USSR, to rally radical Arab elements has contributed to the declaration of a Holy War against the USA. New York and Washington bore the terrible brunt of terrorist activity, and Bush’s administration undertook to lead a broad campaign to eliminate the scourge of international terrorism. If, as it now seems, it is also willing to deal with the resolution of regional conflicts and, above all, with peacemaking in the Middle East, then Bush will definitely play a decisive role in stabilizing the global system. – The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), in conjunction with the Danish Institute in Athens, hosts a lecture by Erik Holm, professor at the Eleni Nakou Foundation in London, on European Anarchy: Europe’s Hard Road to High Politics. At the Danish Institute, 14 Hairefondos. For further details call 331.5022.