blogenlust
12.06.2004

Musharraf to the UK: "We need to fight the root causes of terrorism"


It looks like Pervez Musharraf had a little more to say to Tony Blair and the UK then he did to George W. Bush and the US:
In an earlier interview for the BBC's Newsnight programme, it was suggested to the general the world was less safe - in part because of the campaign [the war on terrorism]. "Absolutely," he said, adding that the social grievances that helped recruit terrorists were not being addressed. Standing next to Mr Blair he added that it was crucial to tackle the "core of what creates terrorists, what creates an extremist, militant environment which then leads on to terrorism". "That is the resolution of political disputes." [...] In his interview with Newsnight, to be broadcast later on Monday, Mr Musharraf said there was a failure to tackle the core problems behind militancy. "We are fighting it in its immediate context, but we are not fighting it in its strategic, long-term context." He said a war on terror needed to combat the political disputes and social inequalities that gave rise to extremism. "What gives rise to a young man or woman to give up her or his life? It is the political disputes and we need to resolve them and also illiteracy and poverty. "These combined are breeding grounds of extremism and terrorism."
Isn't it surprising that he didn't mention this in Washington when he visited Bush to congratulate him on his re-election? It shouldn't be. We in America don't get to question the efficiency and effectiveness of the way we fight the war on terrorism. That would be downright unpatriotic! In our national discourse, the possibility that terrorism could be combated more effectively by directly addressing its root causes (poverty, political dictatorships, oil, etc) is about as pie in the sky as more efficient fuel standards for new auto engines. Or national healthcare. We've been drilled over and over again that military action is the only way we can win the war on terrorism, even as this thesis is continuously debunked with each passing day in Iraq. The fact is, Musharraf is right--relying primarily on military power to beat terrorism is a viscious circle that is unwinnable. I do not see how we are going to win unless we change our mentality. Of course, you cannot totally dismiss military power, but you can certainly use it more intelligently than we have so far. Such power should be used to complement and reinforce political, social, and economic power, all of which are just as important, if not more, than military force. Why? Because political, social, and economic power do not inherently provoke the problem. This illustrates my biggest problem with Bush's foreign policy: When you cast the battle in a black and white, good vs. evil, immoral vs moral framework you limit yourself to the most extreme ways of fighting the problem. It creates a bloodthirstyness that is unquenchable, but also destructive to those who try to quench it. Another consequence is that any alternative policy suggestions are immediately and completely marginalized, so that if a politician wants to become elected, he or she has to tease this bloodthirstyness (See Howard Dean, John Kerry, and any Democrat running for office from 2002-2004), which makes it even less likely that we'll ever be able to change this mentality. In this sense, we're our own worst enemy.