OPINION

Commentary

For nearly three weeks after the terrorist strikes in the United States on September 11, the mass media worldwide – particularly the electronic media – have been anticipating the outbreak of a spectacular war which, however, has not yet taken place. If there is one thing that can be deduced from developments so far, it is that war in the 21st century will be unconventional, carried out through surgical strikes on selected targets while the political focus will gradually shift from states’ external security to their internal security. This is a very significant leap, and politicians in Greece as well as in Europe are beginning to grasp its importance. The war that US President George W. Bush referred to was misinterpreted by European leaders as the intention of waging a military campaign. European leaders failed to take into consideration that former US President Bill Clinton organized military campaigns against Serbia without formally declaring war on that country. Bush’s declaration of war was more concerned with the taking of urgent internal measures that will extend to Europe with the consent of NATO and EU member states’ leaders in order to create a common internal security area for the USA and its traditional allies. The European leaders’ concern over the focus on internal security issues is obvious. This is also the reason why officials in Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s government regularly refer to the need to safeguard our democratic achievements. But if one thing is certain, it is that in the wake of the disaster on September 11, views on what is politically correct (which imposed censorship even on the description of the enemies) or on what constitutes toleration – in the name of which the humanitarian war in the Balkans was declared – have been seriously undermined. For a decade, the Western world boasted of the triumph of liberalism, the liberal victory over reactionary ideologies and the consolidation of a value system based on exclusively material and utilitarian grounds. But when Western society was subjected to a terrorist group’s inhuman act, which was not motivated by personal or material gains, the American administration did not have recourse to Rousseau or Voltaire but rather streamed into the churches. The terrorist assault shapes a new political landscape as the USA seems to be promoting the formation of a broad and inclusive coalition while it also reconsiders American policy on Russia and the Palestinian issue. At the same time, it is necessary to establish a moral basis on which a community of Western states can be built – a moral basis which will not be confined to the principles of respect for private property and individual rights. And this moral basis cannot avoid taking into consideration the role of religion and the church. Otherwise, the response to the terrorist blitz on September 11 will be stricter police measures – a development which will, above all, undermine the political tenets of liberalism per se.