An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Wednesday, March 17, 2004  


A quote from Paddy Woolworth's article in today's IT. Its long but on the same theme as my previous post.

"In fact, however, the argument that terrorism will increasingly condition democratic decisions cuts both ways. It is quite obvious that terrorist acts force us to make a response, but the reality is that we always have a choice as to what that response should be. And that is where the Iraq issue kicks in again, but on another level.

"The paradox of terrorism," the El País journalist Patxo Unzueta wrote some years ago, is that "by itself it is impotent to overthrow the democratic state. But a mistaken response by that same state can seriously destabilise the system." He was writing about the terrorism of Eta, but the point also applies to the international conflict heralded by the September 11th attacks.

So far, the response of the democratic powers to the real and now terribly present danger of Islamist terror attacks has been to counter-attack. They have often chosen targets, and methods, which many democrats believe to be mistaken and even illegal.

Iraq and the Guantánamo Bay internment camp are two cases in point.

They have also paid precious little attention, and fewer resources, to the conditions which make terrorism an attractive, even morally compelling, option for many Muslims today.

In this context, I was struck by something Paul Reiderman, an EU official from Javier Solana's office, said to an American foreign affairs forum in Iowa last September.

"No cause can justify terrorism," he said, "but nothing justifies ignoring the causes of terrorism." But the most disturbing thing about the leading warriors in the so-called war against terrorism is their undemocratic contempt for open and constructive debate. "Those who are not with us are against us, and therefore wittingly or unwittingly in the terrorist camp," is a fair summary of the attitude of George Bush to his critics. It also characterised the attitude of the outgoing Spanish prime minister, José María Aznar, a man who saw a world without shades of grey, in which he was a white knight."

posted by Sarah | 15:26 0 comments
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