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Hitting Terrorism's Roots | The Nation

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Hitting Terrorism's Roots

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While the Bush Administration continues
to build an international coalition it hopes will allow it to strike
back effectively at those responsible for the September 11 attacks,
three issues that helped set the stage for those atrocious crimes
must be dealt with.

The first is the troublesome question of Israel and Palestine. Last year the two came within a hair's breadth of a land-for-peace deal. It failed, and Ariel Sharon's first instinct after the September 11 attacks was to cancel further
meetings with the Palestinians--exactly the wrong instinct, and one
now haltingly reversed by pressure from Shimon Peres and the White
House. But until that deal is signed--and the two peoples accept the
resulting settlement, however imperfect--there can be no peace or
security for any of us. Such a deal may finally require a long-term
multinational peacekeeping force placed between the two, but its
cost, however great, is less than we will all bear if we do not find
resolution to this central issue.

Second is the matter of governance. One hardly needs intimate familiarity with the human rights records of governments from Morocco in the West to Pakistan in
the East to realize that many of America's allies and enemies alike fail the most minimal tests of democracy and human decency--and that they must change. This is not to advocate invasion, CIA subversion or Iraq-style embargoes but rather to support concerted multilateral action that expands pressures for political and social reform and that works with forces within those countries toward that end. Nothing will come quickly or without risk, but to leave intact the power arrangements of the Middle East--as we did in the wake of the
Gulf War--invites the worst possible outcome. Terrorists are bred most easily among terrorized and humiliated peoples.

Finally there is the issue of economic development
and aid. There are a billion Muslims, most of them desperately poor,
and most living in a swath of the globe stretching from the Strait of
Gibraltar east to the Indonesian archipelago. In the days following
September 11, Congress authorized $40 billion in emergency funds
without debate, then $15 billion for US airlines, and George W. Bush
has now proposed spending up to $75 billion more. Given such numbers,
and with the economies of America, Europe and Japan producing more
than $20 trillion a year, why pretend that we can do no more than
promote failed "structural adjustment" programs?

As it
readies for war, America would do well to remember that 3 billion
human beings live on less than $2 a day, and at least 10 million die
of easily preventable disease and malnutrition each year. Then there
is the global impact of the terrorist attacks and US-led preparations
for retaliation. James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank,
predicts a "largely unseen" human toll, estimating that "between
20,000 and 40,000 more children will die worldwide and some 10
million people will be condemned to live below the poverty line of $1
a day." Wolfensohn attributes these effects to severe drops in
commodity prices and a burgeoning global recession; a World Bank
study predicts 2001 growth of less than 1 percent in the
industrialized countries.

Even if Osama bin Laden is dead
next year, given such realities, no new airport security measures or
Special Forces deployments or missile defense shields will protect us
from those who arise to take his place. Instead, we must re-engage
with the world, attacking not the enemies we cannot see but the
enemies we can. We need what has been called a "new era of global
Keynesianism"--a commitment to relieving the globe's most fundamental
problems of food and health and joblessness. That, plus a stiff dose
of political fairness and human rights, offers the best antidote to
terrorism.

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