Sunday, September 11, 2011

Offer Them Bread And Freedom

After 10 years of the ‘war on terror', the international community has failed to root out the evil
By Abdul Hamid Ahmad
George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden
September 11 will be remembered in history as an act of the devil. It was one of the most horrific attacks against humanity in recent history. It was the tip of the iceberg called Islamic terrorism.
But even after 10 years of the attacks, which shook the world, the same questions are being asked about the reasons, the consequences and the way forward. And it seems even after 10 years of the so-called war on terror, the international community has failed to root out terrorism. In fact, some of the solutions implemented have fuelled more terrorism, which has taken and is still taking the lives of thousands of people in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is proven that fighting terrorism cannot succeed with guns, tanks and warplanes. This is where the security solutions or solutions that use brutal force have failed. You can kill one terrorist, two, three, four or any number, but you cannot root out terrorism. The idea behind terrorism lives on.
And by choosing only guns to fight, the ideology of terrorism and fanatics finds a conducive environment to grow and even prosper. This is the practice of America, western nations, some Arab states and other countries such as Pakistan — they are only treating the symptoms but not the disease.
So where is the disease? It is not a new notion to say that the disease lies somewhere else. This has been noted by many politicians, think-tanks and intellectuals who support humanity and not the acts of the devil in the guise of security solutions of countries to tackle devilish acts of terrorism.
Killings spawn killings. The cycle of blood will never end. It can slow down; it can lie dormant, but it will always be there. The embers will forever burn. Unfortunately after 10 years of 9/11, the right solutions to root out terrorism have not been implemented. The international community led by the US and other western nations has been thrown off the path of finding the real problems and is heading in the wrong direction. And after 10 years, terrorists still survive, challenge and threaten humanity everywhere — from the US and Europe to Arab and Asian nations.
When we still see people dying of poverty, of a lack of a drop of water, or a glass of milk or a tablet to cure them like what we have been seeing in Somalia; when we still see people humiliated, victimised, not given equal opportunities to live in dignity and prosper; when we still see people living in fear and suspicion and teaching their children to hate others as the only way to survive, we will witness the number of terrorists growing and we will witness people getting support for terrorists from this big human reserve.
It is a shame after 10 years that we witness what is happening in Somalia. It is a shame after 10 years that we still see hundreds killed on the streets of Baghdad. It is a shame that we still see billions stolen in Baghdad. And it is a shame that after 10 years children in Afghanistan do not have schools to learn. The examples are endless.
Spending wisely
If all this money spent on bullets, guns, planes, tanks and bombs is instead used to educate people and give them tools to work and become productive, is spent on people of poorer countries and those in crisis-stricken areas to stand on their own feet, is used to build roads and hospitals, then only we might see no hatred which usually spawns extremism. It is not just the US and other western countries only to blame, it is the international community and among them Arab and Muslim countries that follow the West in their security solutions to tackle the aftermath of September 11.
Bush by saying "you're either with us, or against us" in fighting terror was terrorising the world himself. You need a voice of wisdom and reason after a catastrophe. You do not need insanity. Countries that tried to find an alternative to tackle terrorism and oppose Bush's terrifying theory were instead terrified by the US, which did not give them a chance to find solutions other than those found with guns and bullets.
I hope that now after 10 years we realise that we were wrong in our solutions and that we do find the right direction, I will not say to counter terrorism, but to root it out.
After 10 years, we need to be honest and truthful to all those lives lost in the attacks of September 11 and the lives of those lost in the retaliation to those attacks elsewhere in the world, which have far exceeded 3,000. Tens of thousands have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and the list goes on. Is that the way to tackle terrorism — by killing more people?
I hope after 10 years we do not let ourselves be led by leaders with selfish and dark agendas, who do not hold the lives and prosperity of human beings as a priority.
One lesson to be learnt so far from September 11 is that you do not deal with terrorists with guns, but by offering them bread and freedom.
-This commentary was published in the Gulf News on 11/09/2011
-Abdul Hamid Ahmad is the editor-in-chief of The Gulf News

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