The image the press wants to accredit is the one already proclaimed by bush: a new chapter in the eternal battle between good and evil, a sort of Hollywood-style clash between the good guy and the bad guy. The us press still fails to realise just how deeply offensive it is for America to equalise the image of a constitutionally elected president and that of a criminal. Bin Laden has thus achieved the communicational effect that he wanted, accrediting himself as Adversary number One of the President of the United States. Like others in the past, the broad coalition created today to crush the terrorists is not without a cost. Saddam Hussein was armed to contain Iran, bin Laden and the taleban to stave off the soviet invasion, the theocracy of saudi Arabia to fight Saddam Hussein. Today it is the new nuclear power of pakistan which is enjoying the indiscriminate support of the west.
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It is disturbing to see masses of semi-literate outcasts singing the praises of bin Laden. Not even Adolf Hitler managed to win so much mass sympathy outside of Germany and Austria. The beginning of the war has added credit to bin Laden's project whereby the war in progress is a war between the Islamic world and the United States. What should have been made clear is that the conflict was between a small band of criminal terrorists and the civilised world. How many of the people who, out of ignorance, are today extolling a terrorist are going to turn into terrorists themselves tomorrow? Risk and terror have become global. Today there are thousands of people who are observing chemical substances, germs, aqueducts, airports and nuclear power plants with the sole aim of seeing how to manipulate and hit them to cause harm to the west. If we think that it is possible to keep millions of people under the sword of Damocles of air bombing, we have got things wrong. The terrorists of September 11 have demonstrated that they hold in contempt not only the life of others but also their own. These terrorists elude rational logic; they are a problem for our security because they have psychiatric problems. It is certainly surprising that the American press itself, so patriotic at this moment in time, on October 7th published front page photographs of President Bush and bin Laden opposite one another.
Luckily, nobody thinks it is necessary to bomb Florida! So why bomb Afghanistan? Only to demonstrate that the night United States are capable of a military response? As a punitive instrument, the military action in progress is thus ineffective. So will it be effective in preventing future attacks? The answer is sure to be negative. True, the United States have achieved a brilliant diplomatic success by involving previously hostile governments. People in the United States' black books, such as Fidel Castro, qadafi and Arafat, have condemned the terrorist attacks in no uncertain terms and even declared themselves favourable to reprisals against Afghanistan. To receive the support of governments is not, however, to convince peoples.
Is War Effective against Terrorism? The most surprising thing about the attacks on Afghanistan that began on October 7 2001 is the lack of any link with the events of September. We take for granted that, supported by his criminal organization, Osama bin Laden instigated the attacks. But it is just as evident that it will not be possible to strike the terrorists by air attacks, and probably not by land actions either. The us military even admits that the chances of capturing bin Laden dead' or alive true to the tradition of westerns) are slim. But what have the Afghani people got to do with all this? How far are the victims of the bombing responsible for the terrorist attacks? No direct logistic involvement emerges. The people guilty of the suicide attacks were trained in flying schools in Florida.
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By no means do i wish to argue that the motivations of the criminals who have destroyed the Twin Towers and those of the politicians who have decided to intervene in the persian Gulf, the former Yugoslavia or Afghanistan can be grouped together. We know too well that in the persian Gulf, a summary sovereign state was annexed by another sovereign state; in Kosovo, a genocide was being perpetrated; and, in Afghanistan, an instigator of massacres and his accomplices were handwriting being harboured. The Twin Towers, on the other hand, were populated simply by people peaceably going about their work. But aren't the reactions of western democracies inappropriate? Are they effectively designed to achieve a purpose? I believe that anybody with a bit of common sense knows that the use of violence is not only exaggerated but, above all, aimed at the wrong target, hence terroristic.
We are now seeing carpet-bombing in which the victims are mostly civilian. In this case too, the so-called 'collateral' effects would appear to be as important as the direct ones. Millions of Afghan civilians are now flocking to the border with pakistan in search of survival, and there is a serious risk of yet another humanitarian catastrophe. The political and civilian arrangement of Afghanistan is more uncertain than ever; grinding poverty is likely to continue in a situation in which the only thing of which there has been no shortage since the soviet invasion are rifles, bombs and land mines. In short, the risk is that Afghanistan is going to inherit the sad destiny of countries such as Iraq, somalia and Iran, which, after being targets of the west, were abandoned to their enduring problems: namely, bloodthirsty dictators, wars between armed bands, religious fanaticism and.
They are characterised by a new quantitative fact: that is, the victims of conflict are all on one side only, that of the 'humanity' that was supposed to be receiving help. Western losses in these wars have either been zero or comparable in number to the casualties in a car crash. In so far as they are based on internal constitutional systems in which the use of violence is allowed only if it is legitimate and apt, democratic states ought to be prepared not to use terror as an instrument of political struggle. Only those states that have extirpated the recourse to armed force internally deserve to be called democratic. So why do they ignore the values and principles that inspire their domestic constitutions beyond their frontiers? Today heads of state and public opinion are joining together in a just condemnation of terrorism.
But how many have pretended not to see the terrorism of western democracies? The terrorism we suffer from others is perceived as being entirely different from the terrorism we cause others to suffer. For westerners, the Twin Towers were a familiar, much-loved landmark. They were part of our daily lives, whereas the valleys of Iraq, serbia and Afghanistan - to cite three places that have experienced the effect of western bombing - are not part of our everyday experience. We have never seen them reproduced in postcards, and to find out where they are we have to look them up in the atlas. The victims of bombing are unknown to us, just as unknown to us are the millions of refugees who occasionally set out on their travels in sole pursuit of survival and suffering the worst hardships imaginable as a result.
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In the nineties, literature the terrorism of states - democratic states included - increased along with great hopes for democratisation. We expect tyrannical regimes to use dictatorial means and resort to extermination, and in Cambodia, rwanda, bosnia, indonesia, nigeria and many other places, the liberal West culpably looked on as tyrannical regimes perpetrated genocide. But liberal democracies were not the perpetuators of these acts. But in other situations throughout the 1990s, democratic states - the United States in particular - were active in international terrorism: Panama, the persian Gulf, the balkans are some of the examples. In all these cases, military force was used, mowing down civilian victims, people who had nothing whatsoever to do with the acts America was attempting to combat. The 'indirect' component - the establishing of the predominance of the west, meaning the United States - played a more important role than the direct one. The entire Third World has metabolised the tough lesson: namely, that anyone who enters into conflict with the United States risks being bombed. These new interventions - all rigorously subsequent to the fall of the berlin Wall - are often tinted by humanitarian motivations. But they will be remembered in the black book of military history rather than in the pink book of humanitarian altruism.
The use of elements of everyday life (airliners and now even correspondence) and the destruction of buildings which, however symbolic, were used for commercial purposes served the purpose to homework make all western people feel unsafe. To achieve this aim the attackers had no qualms about killing individuals of many different nationalities and religions - and even kill themselves. The indirect consequences their act has generated for the United States and the rest of the world are much greater than the direct ones. A new war is now in progress, together with an economic crisis and uncertainty as to our everyday safety that will accompany us for years to come. According to the evil criminal logic of the terrorist, these were precisely the aims they wanted to achieve and the spectacular way in which the event unfolded was functional to that end. Yet terrorism isn't only the action of isolated groups. States also act in a terrorist manner when they resort to the indiscriminate use of violence. A war waged against civilians is thus an act of terrorism.
and among states. Terrorism is the use of terror by organised groups to achieve given objectives. Often such objectives are non-political. Terrorism stands out from other forms of political violence because it strikes indiscriminately. A given act may achieve its aim even more effectively if the victims are not actually associated with the terrorists' objectives. One of the basic characteristics of terrorism is that it achieves its aims not only and often not so much through direct action as through the sense of panic provoked by that action, which causes an entire community to change its behaviour. The execution is only one part of the effect; no less important is the threat thereof. When the community in question begins to live with terrorism that is when the terrorists achieve their main aim. They have, at last, become active political players. If we apply this definition to the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, we can see how the criminals have indeed achieved their aims.
They were also the years in which international organisations - the United Nations first and foremost - tried to stop being mere paper pushers vis-à-vis the resolutions of the summits of the superpowers. History does not allow for proposal algebraic sums, and no one today can say whether the advantages outweighed the disadvantages or vice versa. As a symbol of a historical turnaround, the destruction of the Twin Towers is comparable to the collapse of the berlin Wall. In the last three months, newspapers have effectively been the spirit of the world, using every word in the dictionary to describe the event. The attack was a historic event not only in terms of the magnitude of the damage inflicted; after all, recent history has, alas, accustomed us to even worse tragedies. In 1994, for example, half a million people were killed in just a few weeks in Rwanda, yet nothing changed in international politics. In 1995, 8,000 people were killed in a single day in Srebrenica alone, but the effects of the tragedy were only felt at regional level. No, the terrorist attacks in America have changed the course of the world because, for the first time ever, the hegemonic power has been hit - and because the attack was an absolutely gratuitous one. No conflict was in progress between the United States and the forces which the attackers claimed to defend.
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Social science research council / after sept. Terrorism and Cosmopolitanism, daniele Archibugi, technological Director, Italian National Research council. The fall of the berlin Wall was a symbolic event that raised hopes for a more united world, founded on the values of international legality and democracy. The idea was put forward that, at last, human rights would be respected planet-wide and that violent conflict would gradually disappear. In just over a decade, many such hopes have been swept away. In the same decade, we have witnessed the birth of a new generation of civil wars, the resumption of traditional-type wars between states and the birth of humanitarian interventionism under the banner of self-interested charity. Yet we must not forget that the 1990s also happened to be the years in which the fear shredder of nuclear war was set aside and millions of people - in eastern Europe, africa, latin America and Asia - gained or regained the right to choose. They were the years in which Nelson Mandela and Václav havel left prison to take the helm of their respective countries.