OPINION

Terrorism and Iraq

The blind bombing on the island of Bali, Indonesia, on Saturday once again highlighted that this type of terrorism knows no moral constraints. Those who masterminded and executed the blast see Western man as an enemy. Even children are seen as legitimate targets in this asymmetrical global war that the most extremist and fanatical section of Islamic fundamentalism has declared on the West. Even though there is still no evidence regarding the identity of the perpetrators, the pattern of the terrorist act points directly to the Al Qaeda network. Strict as security measures may become, terrorists will always find a crack through which to carry out a deadly strike. Unsuspecting citizens make for especially easy targets. But American, European and Australian citizens cannot live in a reign of fear. They cannot possibly barricade themselves inside their countries or give up their normal, everyday life. Blind violence and the cultivation of horror are elements that can never receive any politically legitimacy. The international community has a vital interest and a moral obligation to uproot terrorism. This means that it has to crush the Al Qaeda network and all organizations which adopt similar tactics. At the same time, it has to drain the political and ideological swamps that reproduce the phenomenon. This is the only way to prevent the unscrupulous, fanatical criminals from appearing as heroes in the eyes of the exasperated Islamic masses. This is the only way to undermine Osama bin Laden’s message of a war between religions and cultures. Being in charge of the world’s most powerful state, US President George W. Bush and his administration have great responsibilities – and not only before the American people. For their war on terrorism to yield fruit, they must not use it as a pretext for settling their geopolitical scores. Doing this creates skepticism among the international public and corrodes the counter-terrorism alliance. It is no coincidence that the military campaign against the Taleban in Afghanistan only sparked marginal reactions – which is very much unlike Washington’s plans for a showdown against Iraq. Even those who advocate a military strike against Saddam Hussein find it hard to claim that Baghdad is in any way linked to the Al Qaeda attacks.