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IHT: Decent People Reject Terrorism and U.S. Bombing at the Same Time
By Chandra Muzaffar
7/11/2001 2:03 am Wed
Monday, November 5, 2001
Decent People Reject Terrorism and U.S. Bombing at the Same Time
by Chandra Muzaffar
KUALA LUMPUR - A dangerous idea is gaining currency in the
U.S. administration and among a significant segment of the
American public: If a person does not support the U.S.-led
bombing, it means that he or she backs Osama bin Laden and
the Qaida network.
This simplistic approach owes a great deal to the assertion by
President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 tragedy that
governments and peoples the world over have to choose. They
are either with his government or with the terrorists who
slaughtered the thousands of innocent people in New York and
Yet many honest people condemn the carnage of Sept. 11 and
are determined to see terrorism eliminated, while being
genuinely pained by the bombing of Afghanistan. Such people,
in America and many other countries, are deeply concerned at
the deaths of many Afghan civilians who are no less innocent
than the Sept. 11 victims.
Military might will not achieve the objective of destroying the bin
Laden organization. Even if the ultraconservative Taliban regime
is overthrown there is no guarantee that the terrorist network will
In a post-Taliban scenario, Afghanistan would again descend
into chaos, and the impoverishment and suffering of the people
would become even worse. With competing political warlords,
terrorism of the bin Laden variety might well continue to thrive.
And the network has cells in many countries apart from
The bombing campaign is not achieving any of its immediate
goals. Dislodging the Taliban does not seem to be that simple,
let alone finding and crushing bin Laden and his base. The time
has come for Washington to listen to critics of the bombing. They
are not friends of Osama bin Laden or the Taliban. Like Mr.
Bush, they want terrorism to be wiped out. But they are inclined
toward legal, financial, political and diplomatic measures.
These may in the end turn out to be more effective in combating
the scourge of terrorism. Of course, the root causes of terrorism
should also be addressed. Just solutions should be found to
issues such as the Palestinian struggle for a homeland and the
deaths of Iraqi children from economic sanctions, both of which
have generated much anger in the Middle East, thus fueling
The terrorists have also been able to exploit the feeling of
alienation and exclusion so pervasive among the impoverished
and disenfranchised in many countries.
The war against terrorism calls for a comprehensive approach.
Such a complex threat cannot be overcome by strategies rooted
in a simplistic black-and-white mind-set.
The writer, a Muslim, is president of the International Movement
for a Just World, a nongovernmental organization based in
Kuala Lumpur. He contributed this comment to the International