OK, I admit it; I am back with the terrorism debate. But hey, look (as the Bliar would say) it is a bit important. Not as important as global warming sure, but it needs debating. We are here, and Alain has asked me to incorporate the Islamic threat into my model of terrorism as a response to domination by a foreign group.
Alain, I can agree with you that Osama bin Laden and his cadres are labouring under the mistaken belief that they can and must bring about a situation where Islam is the one and only world religion, and that they can and must use terrorist means to do it.
Where we differ is in the degree of the threat and the means necessary to counter it. To you, the threat is apocalyptic, and (correct me if I am wrong) the so-called War on Terror is the necessary response. To the majority here, the threat exists, and is one that we should defend ourselves against by a variety of means, primarily political, but it is not an apocalyptic threat. Yes, 9/11 was a spectacular and cruel act, but then so was the "shock and awe" attack on Iraq, and the Americans have surely got their revenge for the 3,000 they lost. Proportionally they have killed a far greater percentage of the Afghan and Iraqi population than the American nation lost on 9/11.
Yes, terrorism is not at all desirable, but we in the UK, (IRA) and other places (Germany in the 70's with the RAF) have lived with it and through it without getting hysterical about it. Listen: terrorism passes. Things change. Osama is not a well man. He will die, maybe soon. Maybe he is already dead. Or he might even be captured one day, who knows? Al-Qaeda may be in the process of dissolving - they may strike again, but they will pass into history one day. It is hard to sustain an intense campaign for long. I have an impression that wars and conflicts often resolve themselves within a generation.
So most of us do not share the apocalyptic vision that you, Daniel Pipes and George Bush are experiencing. But in all the uncertainty, we share one certainty, and it is this: that the War on Terror is pouring oil onto the fires that burn in the hearts of disaffected Muslim youth. It is making terrorism worse, not better. George Bush and the neo-cons are the best recruiting sergeant that Osama bin Laden could hope for, just as the existence of Stalin helped Hitler to rise to power in Germany.
I have to say that in my opinion, and that of the majority of the people of this world, War on Terror is most certainly not the policy of a wise, rational and spiritual person. I suspect that you will disagree, because, sad to say, we have a difference of belief systems here, not a difference in reasoning."
So there we have it. The Conference is in Madrid on March 11th. We must look out for it in the papers.