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A new deadly strain of terrorism is on the horizon. How can we defeat it?

A new deadly strain of terrorism is on the horizon. How can we defeat it? To discuss the future of terror with us today, Frontpage Symposium is joined by a distinguished panel. We seralize this symposium as an Editorial colum in WoJ.

Simon Reeve, a New York Times bestselling author and television presenter. His book The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism, which warned of a new age of apocalyptic terrorism, was the first in the world on bin Laden and al Qaeda;

We are dealing with nihilists and despots who worship a death-cult. They hate modern liberalism and democracy and their ideology is the cousin of fascism and communism. When we faced Stalin and Hitler, the last thing we needed to do was agonize over why they didn’t like our societies, lifestyles and systems of government. Neither should we do anything different in confronting the Osamas and Al Zarqawis.

(Photo credits : frontpagemag.com)

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Simon Reeve: If I was writing a school report on the Bush administration's handling of the 'war on terror', then I'd be scribbling 'could do much better' in the margin.

Tackling international terrorism requires a number of different responses: military, political, social, diplomatic, economic and cultural. Short-term politicians might prefer to tell their electors that they're just going to bomb the terrorists, but in the long-run that doesn't work. It just encourages more people to join the group.

I believe the US government has been adopting a short-term view of the war on terror and has failed to address the root causes of terror which have encouraged militants around the world to support al Qaeda. The US should have done more to encourage a swift resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the benefit of both sides. It should ask why so many people around the world feel hatred for America. Why do the polls show America is more hated now, after the appalling 9/11 attacks, than before? It’s not good enough to simply say ‘they hate us because we are free and rich’.

The way Iraq was attacked was a major mistake. I remember when the war was being launched US politicians were claiming Iraq was a terrorist 'hornet nest' that needed to be smashed. Then when the US led the occupation I talked with one very senior US official who said he viewed Iraq as fly-paper -- attracting militants from around the region who the US army could then take-on and destroy far from the US mainland.

But I fear Iraq has been, and is still, an engine driving terrorism -- attracting young militants who receive training and indoctrination, and will then take their anti-US hatred and terror skills back to other countries. This is what happened on a larger scale in Afghanistan during the 1980s, leading to the creation of what we now call al Qaeda.

In summary, defeating terror, to use a simple analogy, needs a carrot and stick approach. So far there’s been too much stick from the Bush administration, and not enough carrot.

In terms of crystal-ball gazing for future threats, it’s important to remember al Qaeda has become as much a state of mind as an actual terror organization. Bin Laden’s hatred has infected thousands of young men around the world. A militant doesn’t need to have an al Qaeda membership card to launch an attack – they just need to have hatred in their heart and the ability to strike. In our increasingly globalised world, there are US and Western targets everywhere. I believe we will see more attacks on these ‘frontier outposts’ by small cells of disaffected, angry young men, and militant cells which are emerging in many countries.

The single greatest threat, however, is biological. I’ve been to chemical and biological weapons labs in the former Soviet Union, and been shocked by the appalling levels of security. A terrorist with access to smallpox or another nasty disease from a former Soviet lab, or one in France, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc, is what occasionally keeps me awake at night.

I would be very interested to hear what Dr. Gunaratna, Mr. Kohlmann and Mr. Darling think of the war on terror, and their opinions on future threats.

FrontPage Mag (FP) Moderator: Thank you Mr. Reeve. Let me jump in for a moment.

Bush could certainly do “much better” in handling the terror war, especially if the Left didn’t block his administration’s efforts at every turn. It might have helped if the Democrats, represented by the likes of Kerry, Kennedy, Gore and Carter, hadn’t turned the war into a partisan issue and consistently attempted to tie the administration’s hands behind its back.

I think one could also blame the terrorists for the terror war not going “better.” The process of democratization in Iraq may be facing some stumbling blocks when psychopaths blow themselves up alongside innocent civilians, including women and babies in strollers.

True enough, bombing terrorists might encourage “more people to join the group.” But bombing the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan surely did a thing or two, and so have the bombings of terrorist sanctuaries in Iraq.

To blame the U.S. for not bringing a “swift” resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is disingenuous. The problem may actually have something to do with Yasser Arafat and his thugs never being interested in a real peace and systematically pursuing the killing of Jews.

And the Americans are supposed to be asking themselves why they are hated? Let me guess, they brought 9/11 unto themselves, right? Are we really still stuck wondering what we could have done not to make the Islamists hate us so much? When Jews study the Holocaust, should they be agonizing what they may have done wrong to make the Nazis revile them? Surely it is common sense that scapegoating exists and that peoples’ hatred often says more about them than about those they hate.

What are we supposed to do when forces in this world wage war on us because they believe that women should wrap their whole bodies up and that they should not have personal and sexual freedom? What do we do when these forces hate the idea of women’s rights, homosexual rights, minority rights, the separation of religion and state, and every other democratic right imaginable?

We are dealing with nihilists and despots who worship a death-cult. They hate modern liberalism and democracy and their ideology is the cousin of fascism and communism. When we faced Stalin and Hitler, the last thing we needed to do was agonize over why they didn’t like our societies, lifestyles and systems of government. Neither should we do anything different in confronting the Osamas and Al Zarqawis.

Mr. Reeve, you say that the way Iraq was attacked was a “major mistake.” But it liberated 25 million people and, like in Afghanistan, it brought the promise of democracy to the suffering citizens of that nation. Iraq’s liberation also cancelled out the possibility that Saddam could arm terrorists with WMDs. Moreover, it has sent reverberating shock waves of liberty throughout the Arab world.

Mr. Reeve, you point out the dangers we are facing, but you seem to only blame the administration. You have not suggested how we can defeat these terrorists, aside from a blurry reference to some kind of “carrot” that we should be offering. What “carrot” exactly will make bin Laden and Zarqawi and their followers decide that women’s rights, equality, individual rights and democracy are good ideas?

In any case, Mr. Kohlmann, let’s move over to you. Mr. Reeve points out that the greatest threat now is biological. Could you kindly comment on that and what we can do about it?

Story Credits: Frontpagemag.com

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