Thursday, March 10, 2005

"Our New Guernica"

Timothy Garton Ash reflects on the one-year anniversary of the 11-M attacks. I quibble a bit with some of his "soft" language, however he gets the big picture:

"But this war to avoid a larger war will only be won if ordinary citizens across Europe are consciously engaged in it, through millions of commonplace interactions with people of different colour and faith. These are the experiences that determine whether the Muslim immigrants who already live among us in such large numbers will turn towards or away from Islamist extremism, and eventually terrorism. This is not the 'war on terror', in which the mighty armies and security apparatuses of powerful states are repeatedly outmanoeuvred by a few technically ingenious people who are prepared to sacrifice their own lives [But when have the Islamic terrorists, since 9/11, 'outmanoeuvred' that most powerful state, America, with her mighty army and security apparatus?]. It's a war to prevent such people wanting to become terrorists in the first place.

"A great French historian once said that a nation is 'a plebiscite on every day'. So is this peaceful war to prevent the emergence of terrorism in the alienated minds of ordinary men and women. It's a war of small things, of tiny, everyday acts."

I totally agree, but this "war on terror" Mr. Ash snidely refers to, needed a kick start after Afghanistan. It needed that grand idea, that grand strategy, that "Big Bang" (to steal Tom Barnett's language) to get the ball rolling in the Arab-Muslim world in order "to prevent such people [from] wanting to become terrorists in the first place." And that "Big Bang" was clearly the American intervention in Iraq and subsequent rehabilitation to foster the emergence of representative government. I agree that it's "a war of small things, of tiny, everyday acts," but it also comes a time when big things, of monumental proportions are just as necessary to win the wider war. Although based on what is coming out of the conference on terrorism in Madrid, it looks like, unfortunately, Spain does not want to face the new reality and "think big."


Post a Comment

<< Home