Monday, October 04, 2004

Seven Theses on Today's Terrorism

From a speech made by Jose Maria Aznar, on 21 September, 2004, at Georgetown University.

Mr Aznar is the former Prime Minister of Spain and a willing partner in the war on terror. He also was a willing partner in the US led war in Iraq.

The article clearly articulates and highlights the world view differences of John Kerry and George Bush.

It is a must read.

"I am an optimist. I do believe terrorism can be defeated. In 1995 ETA ordered my murder, fortunately, I survived a car bomb attack. And though I have seen many friends fall under the bombs and bullets of the Basque nationalist terrorists, I fought them with all the instruments a democracy has, and I have seen them shrinking, weaker and prostrated. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about. And that’s precisely what makes me more confident an optimistic. Victory is possible over our enemies...

Victory is possible if we understand, first of all, what we are up against. This is the classical maxim of the great Chinese thinker, Sunt Zu: "know thy enemy"...

It is understandable and human not to want to see problems that exist. However, it is also irresponsible and dangerous when what we are dealing with represents the worst threat to freedom today. I believe the Bi-Partisan Commission on the tragic events of September 11th has played an extraordinary role in clearly defining the terrorism we had been euphemistically calling terrorism of global reach, international terrorism or mega-terrorism. All ambiguity has been removed as to what we must do, in our capacity as democratic societies, to combat our main enemy, the Islamic terrorism...

... its ambitions are to destroy our societies per se and eliminate our governments and ways of life at the same time. What is more, its ideology is not content with expelling the infidels from its holy realms (that is to say, Saudi Arabia or the Gulf). The establishment of its Caliphate involves enslaving us all, in all respects...

Bin Laden shares a common characteristic with Adolf Hitler: he writes and says what he intends to do. And his vision and plans are crystal clear. He talks about the land of Islam stretching from Al-Andalus (the name the Muslims used many centuries ago to refer to Spain) to the Philippines. He talks about a kind of government inspired by a literal reading of the Qur’an. He wants his religion ruling our lives. And if or when we can not be ruled or converted, we must be deadly punished and eradicated. Some say Islam is a tolerant faith. But not Bin Laden Islam, that’s for sure...

..In order to achieve our victory we must accept and understand that we are at War. Obviously, not a conventional or traditional War, but a new form of conflict. A war that we never look for, but a War that fell upon us just because the implacable logic of our enemy. Bin Laden declared War on us, on the democratic, prosperous, free and basically laicist Western society. And he declared a total War where, according to his view, there is neither room for negotiations nor peace agreements...

When faced with an enemy in total war, one that is relentless and shows no mercy, appeasing its multiple manifestations is not feasible. It is simply not an option. Many people in Spain and Europe believe that the atrocities of 11th March occurred because we supported intervention to defeat Saddam Hussein in Iraq. In their opinion, the significance of the most serious terrorist attack in our entire history can be reduced to the level of a simple punishment for walking hand-in-hand with the United States in its policy towards Iraq. In this respect, the removal of the international Coalition is interpreted as a means of returning to normality and peace. If Iraq was the cause, then us leaving Iraq would mean that the terrorists would have no reason to attack us again. This argument is as simple as it is mistaken...

You must go back no less than 1,300 years, to the early 8th century, when a Spain recently invaded by the Moors refused to become just another piece in the Islamic world and began a long battle to recover its identity. This Reconquista process was very long, lasting some 800 years. However, it ended successfully...

There are many radical Muslims who continue to recall that defeat, many more than any rational Western mind might suspect. Osama Bin Laden is one of them. His first statement after 11th September - I repeat, the 11th September - did not begin by referring to New York or Iraq. His first words were to lament the loss of Al Andalus - Moorish Medieval Spain - and compare it to the occupation of Jerusalem by the Israelis...

I know that it may sound like an exaggeration, accustomed as we are to very much shorter political. Bin Laden is dealing with time-scales and cycles that are very different from our own, and his perspective guarantees an enormous sense of patience. And what is even worse, he has a capacity for endurance that is worthy of being taken into account...

We are not in an optional war, a war of our own choosing. Its terms have not been defined so far by ourselves, but by our enemy... America, are especially targeted for what the country is, the world's greatest power and possibly the only nation capable of defeating terror on its own. Eliminating Islamic terrorism will be to the benefit of all and especially those who are most threatened by it...

The fact that we are in an all-out war - them or us - means that we must pursue an active policy, one that seeks to ensure a victory, rather than simply cobbling together a provisional solution to the problem... They attack us on our own ground because that is their favorite theatre of war. And they will continue to do so however much we attempt to hold back the tide in the Middle East. Who can feel free from threats when Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq, to name but a few, have set up fundamentalist-style republics with clear links to Al Qaeda?...Containment is not feasible, and appeasement is not only impossible, but suicidal in the medium term. Thus we must devise an effective strategy to roll back fundamentalism and its terrorist elements if we want to prevail.

To do so we must know that we are fighting against not only a group or terrorist movement, but against an ideology. Thus, going over and chasing the terrorists is not the end of the problem. We also have to fight their cause. The War against terror can only succeed if we are finally able to eliminate the deeper root of its existence: hate of modernity and Western values, a feeling that circulates throughout the Middle East with particular virulence... Theocracy and corruption are guardians of nothing more than hate and resentment. Only economic liberalization and political openness can offer a ray of hope to millions of souls who are only able to find solace today in religious intolerance.

That’s why the Broader Middle East Initiative put forward by President Bush must be a success. It is the only alternative we have to agony frustration and anger spread all across the Arab countries. Only change, not the maintenance of the current status quo in the Middle East and the Muslim world, will bring the conditions for a better and more secure environment.

Every war has its Central Front. In the Cold War it was Germany; today, in the war against Islamic terror, it is Iraq. This we must understand and accept. Those who have chosen a political and strategic agenda made of antiamericanism or against the US hegemony, are blind to the many perils of failing in Iraq. They are blind to the reading fundamentalist terrorists will do in such a scenario, the feeling of success they will experience, and the new impetus they will gain...A democratic and secure Iraq will mean a fatal blow against the predicament of Al Qaeda.

...Being the Islamic terrorism is a global phenomenon, international cooperation is an indisputable fact. However, we should not overestimate or delude ourselves as to its possible results. International collaboration is always difficult, and this is even more the case within the field of counter-terrorism. It is enough to tell you, for example, that only following the 11th September atrocities did the European Union accept a shared definition of terrorism, on the initiative of my Government. Until that time various EU Member States had not even included terrorism in their penal codes as a specific crime. There are also diverse definitions of what terrorism is here, depending on whether you are dealing with the State Department, the Pentagon or the FBI...

...A terrorist is a terrorist, both here and everywhere else. There are no exceptions...If we view the situation through our enemies' eyes, there is no doubt about it: everything al-Zarqawi and company are doing in Iraq is based on the fact that they do not want to see a prosperous and democratic Iraq. And this should be enough to convince us that, if Iraq were to turn out badly, the winners would be the terrorists.

Having said that, I also believe that international cooperation must transcend the operational field and express itself at the highest political level. And we must project it. The radical Muslims have to see clearly that we are all united in the same combat... We should transform ourselves from a community of values into a community of common actions.

If we want to win, the terrorists must be made to feel our hostility everywhere...

I do not wish to sound alarmist. It is not my place to warn you of the degree of threat that hangs over the United States. I would simply state that I believe the terrorists would wish to be present at the November elections, either through direct action here if they can, or indirectly by making Iraq an inferno for our political leaders..."

The article is a must read and perhaps one of the clearest and most cogent explanations of why we must succeed in Iraq

Wandering Mind

may not be suitable for political vegans