London attacks need to be better understood
July 14, 2005
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was living in London.
On July 7, 2005, I was living in Washington.
I've missed both terrorist attacks by a fluke. And at this moment, in part because of the policies of President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, the United States and Great Britain are not safe.
Yes, we must bring to justice the perpetrators of these attacks. But we must also seek to understand -- not excuse -- what happened and why. This means explanations that go beyond the insulting "they hate our values" newsspeak of Blair and Bush.
Their war on terrorism has brought only more war and more terrorism.
The Iraq War, in particular, has made the world much more dangerous.
A May 2005 CIA report stated that Iraq, under U.S. and British occupation, has become the epicenter of terrorist recruitment and training worldwide. Terrorists have found a haven and growth industry in Iraq that simply did not exist prior to the March 2003 invasion.
Yet Blair and Bush, both of whom have been exposed as doctoring the rationale for going to war, plan to continue down the path of destruction that has already costs tens of thousands of Iraqi lives, more than 1,750 U.S. casualties and more than 11,000 U.S. injuries.
And, according to the British medical journal The Lancet, about 100,000 Iraqis have died under U.S. occupation, which means that more Iraqis have died in the last two years than in the last decade of rule by Hussein.
The Iraq War has accelerated the flow of fuming young people who are turning to terrorism.
But there are steps that can be taken to stop that flow.
First, a critical distinction must be made between those who are legitimately angry with the policies of occupation and economic domination carried out by Blair and Bush, and those who choose extremism to express that anger.
In the Middle East, as well as in Africa, the Americas and Asia, there is a lot of nonviolent resistance to the economic and social policies of international financial institutions, transnational corporations and G8 states. By dismissing these legitimate grievances, the West forces many people down the path to desperation.
Second, Western support, particularly by the United States, for repressive regimes facilitates rather than erodes the base for terrorism. Propping up states such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and uncritically supporting the policies of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, sends a message that U.S. strategic and security interests are more important than human rights, democracy or justice. Such support must end.
Third, unconditional debt cancellation and, not just the limited steps taken at the G8 summit, is crucial to the economic viability of many developing countries. Once their economies recover, the pool of terrorist recruits will begin to dry up.
These steps won't solve the problem of terrorism overnight. But they will gradually get the job done.
And they are far preferable to Bush's approach of endless war and occupation, an approach that has taken a terrible toll.
Clarence Lusane is assistant professor in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several works, including "Hitler's Black Victims" (Routledge Press, 2002). He can be reached at email@example.com.