Following the destruction of property and deaths of 8000 people on 11th September 2001, the Government of the United States of America with the support of the Government of the United Kingdom and approval and co-operation of most of the countries of the world (the Anti-Terrorist Coalition) began a war against the present government of Afghanistan with the object of putting an end to Terrorism by capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, destroying all the terrorist training camps, and replacing the present Afghani government with a government who would not support Terrorism.
Once the above objectives are achieved, the campaign against Terrorism will continue in other countries harbouring terrorists, which eventually should result in a terrorist-free world, or at least almost terrorist-free world.
Such are the intentions. But all human history and our daily lives are full of evidence that intentions and subsequent results are not always the same.
The purpose of this paper is to establish whether the present attempt to defeat Terrorism is likely to succeed, and how this objective can be achieved.
To begin with we would have to understand what Terrorism is, because, if one tried to stop terrorism without a clear understanding what it is, one is unlikely to achieve that purpose.
Terrorism is wilful destruction of people or property by people not acting on behalf of an established government to redress a real or imaginary injustice attributed to an established government.
Not all cases of wilful destruction of people or property are terrorism. The important definitive characteristics of terrorism are:
Without these three characteristics an act of wilful destruction of people or property is not terrorism. It is either an act of war, or a matter of internal policy, or an ordinary common law crime (murder, arson, etc).
If destruction of people or property is undertaken by or on behalf of an established government against another country, it is considered war, not terrorism.
If destruction of people or property is undertaken by or on behalf of an established government on its own territory, it is considered a matter of policy, not terrorism.
If destruction of people or property is undertaken without justification, it is considered an ordinary common law crime, not terrorism.
If destruction of people or property is not aimed against an established government, but is aimed at a private individual or group, it is considered an ordinary common law crime, not terrorism, even if such act is aimed at redressing a wrong, because disputes between private individuals should be settled through an established legal system operated by an established government, not by taking law in one’s own hands.
In the course of wars or matters of internal policy involving destruction of people and property there are inevitable innocent victims. But established governments, while regretting this fact, justify it on the grounds of military or political necessity. These justifications are asserted by the governments themselves, and, up to now, there were no independent, impartial and objective super-national courts, where such justifications could be put to test of factual validity, logical consistency, and conformity to the fundamental principle of justice – equality under the law.
As the only difference between terrorism and war is the fact of the perpetrator being or not being an established government, it is possible for terrorists to become established governments.
If the terrorists’ objective is to establish a national state or to expel a foreign (colonial or similar) power occupying their country, and they succeed, they become not terrorists, but an established government.
The last century saw numerous examples of this phenomenon. Terrorists of the former British colonies became members of established governments of independent countries of Africa and Asia.
Indeed there are few established governments in the world today, which at some time in history were not established by acts of destruction of people and property aimed at the then established governments. The American Civil War, the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution in Russia, the Chinese Revolution all began as acts of violence and destruction of people and property on a massive scale (including innocent victims) with the objective of overthrowing the then established governments.
While established governments see terrorist activity as terrorism, terrorists themselves see it as war - war against an enemy, an oppressor, war for freedom, justice, etc. Indeed, they see themselves as rightful governments fighting for their lawful rights. And, as established governments, they pursue their wars by destroying people and property.
The means of destruction in the hands of terrorists are, however, much less powerful and versatile than those in the hands of established governments. And this dictates the targets, which terrorists choose to hit.
Terrorists bomb offices and shopping centers, not because they want to kill innocent people, but because they want to hit enemy targets. The fact that shops and offices contain people who have nothing to do with whatever cause the terrorists might be fighting is overshadowed by the triumph of inflicting damage upon the enemy. This triumph is not different from the triumph of the British and American people, when they heard that the Allied Forces started bombing Berlin at the end of the Second World War – they did not think at the time of the deaths of innocent German women and children dying in burning ruins – they thought of the victory over the enemy.
There are, however, substantial differences between wars waged by established governments and wars waged by terrorists. Established governments have substantial control over the territory and people they administer. They can start a war, they can stop a war. Terrorist wars are not started by terrorist leaders, nor can they be stopped by terrorist leaders. Terrorist wars are not the result of decisions by leaders, they are the result of feeling by groups of people, united by national, religious or similar ties, of injustice (real or imaginary), which generate hatred towards the oppressors and desire to liberate themselves from the oppressors or to redress the injustice.
Sooner or later the more determined and capable members of such groups join together to fight for the common cause, and natural leaders emerge to lead the fight. These leaders have control over their followers only as long as they continue the fight. They can only stop after the fight has been won, or the feeling of injustice motivating the fight disappears. If they try to stop the fight without having achieved the results, they lose their authority as leaders and are replaced by others prepared to fight on. This is why attempts to achieve peace in Ireland and Palestine by reaching agreement between terrorist leaders, turned politicians, and their opponents have invariably failed.
Whenever an established government is confronted with terrorism they try to stop it (1) by imprisoning or killing the terrorist leaders, (2) by bribing or appeasing terrorist leaders, or in extreme cases (3) by killing every male belonging to the group on behalf of which the terrorists operate (genocide).
It has been proved by the history of mankind, and it logically follows from the nature of terrorism, that it is impossible to stop terrorism by killing or imprisoning terrorist leaders. As long as the cause of terrorism (the feeling of injustice) remains, new terrorist leaders appear and replace those killed or imprisoned. The very fact of killing or imprisoning terrorist leaders increases the feeling of injustice and hatred that feeds terrorism and arouses desire for revenge. The killed terrorist leaders become symbols, martyrs, saints and role models for their followers. Occasional terrorist incidents become regular and increasingly frequent part of daily life, until they reach the proportions of a full scale civil war.
It has been proved by the history of mankind, and it logically follows from the nature of terrorism, that it is impossible to stop terrorism by bribing or appeasing terrorist leaders. As long as the cause of terrorism (the feeling of injustice) remains, the bribed or appeased leaders will lose the support of their followers and will be replaced by new leaders. The very fact of bribery or appeasement increases the feeling of disdain towards the established government and the resolve to continue the struggle.
The failure of the last peace process between Ehud Barak and Yaser Arafat chaperoned by American and British politicians, and now being attempted to be revived by Tony Blair, failed not because it was sabotaged by terrorists, but because the feelings of injustice that were the cause of terrorism have not disappeared. What the Palestinians saw was replacement of Israeli soldiers with Palestinian militia trying to do the Israelis’ job. Clearly the militia could not enforce peace against the wishes of their people; in their own hearts they saw the Israelis as the enemy, not the Palestinian youths throwing stones at the Israelis. These feelings could not be changed by politicians shaking hands with each other or signing a piece of paper.
Theoretically genocide appears to be an effective way to eradicate terrorism: kill every terrorist and all the people on whose behalf terrorists fight their war, and terrorism will disappear. In practice such solution could be extremely difficult or even impossible to implement.
A historical example known to Christians from the Old Testament and to Muslims from the Qur'an is the story of Moses and the Pharaoh of Egypt, where the Pharaoh ordered to kill every Israelite male child. The end of the story is that the mighty ruler of a great empire suffered defeat and a small captive tribe lived to tell the tale (refer to the sources for the details).
Today this solution is being tried out by the Russian government in Chechnya. A Russian minister dealing with the matter said, "To win this war, one has to destroy the entire male population of Chechnya". He is wrong, all the female population of Chechnya would have to be destroyed as well, because the women will pass the hatred on to any child born to them, even if the birth was the result of rape by Russian soldiers. And, of course, women can also fight and destroy people and property.
The genocide solution was difficult to implement even in the days of the Ancient Egypt. Today when the means of travel and communications have developed to the extent of turning the world into a global village, such solution is not only difficult, it is impossible. Terrorism today is not confined to a single geographical area, it has become global. Even if the Russians do succeed in killing every Chechen man, woman and child, the feeling of injustice and hatred will spread to other people and will inspire acts of terrorism against Russia and all the countries believed to be supporting it or co-operating with it.
The only way to eradicate terrorism is to remove its cause – the (justified or unjustified) feeling of injustice.
This is the general conclusion based on accumulated historical experience of mankind and on logical reasoning from the nature of terrorism.
Let us look now how this conclusion applies to the present concrete example of the operations Infinite Justice and Enduring Freedom.
Let us suppose that the operation Enduring Freedom proceeds successfully. The Taliban are defeated. Afghanistan is occupied by the Coalition forces and whatever anti-Taliban Afghanis form an Anti-Terrorist Coalition friendly government. Osama bin Laden is killed or captured. This is possible - the Coalition forces have enough weapons to destroy the whole population of Afghanistan together with Osama bin Laden.
But will this stop terrorism?
Even the main leaders of the War Against Terrorism (President Bush and Tony Blair) understand and publicly acknowledge that it will not.
As a result of Anglo-American bombing of Afghanistan Osama bin Laden, has already become a symbol of the war against America and its supporters by those Muslims who see the bombing of Afghanistan by the Americans as a war against the Muslim World.
Tony Blair is trying hard to persuade the leaders of Muslim countries that the war is against Terrorism, not Islam, and some Muslim heads of states are assuring him of their support. But how long will those leaders of Muslim countries continue to enjoy the support of the people they represent?
In itself, terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. We see it in Ireland, Spain and in every part of the world where people see themselves victims of injustice at the hands of an established government.
Initially, the connection between terrorism and Islam was the sympathy that Muslims and especially Arabs felt with the injustice inflicted upon the Palestinian Arabs by Israel. America was also seen as a supporter of Israel. The genocide by the Russians in Chechnya and its tacit acceptance by the Western World has resulted in the feeling among Muslim people that they are being attacked by anti-Muslims, awakening the memories of the Crusades and Colonial wars of the past. It is these feelings of hostility and injustice that lead to what became known as Islamic terrorism. The present attack against Afghanistan has already spread the feeling of hostility towards America and its supporters to such far away from the conflict area countries as Malaysia, Indonesia and Nigeria. Operation Enduring Freedom is rapidly turning into operation Enduring Terrorism.
So does it mean that terrorism is inevitable?
Terrorism is not inevitable.
There has never been a better opportunity to stop terrorism than today. And there is no person in the world today, who is better placed to play a crucial part in the eradication of terrorism than Osama bin Laden.
A dead or imprisoned Osama bin Laden will become a symbol, a rallying cry and a role model for every terrorist alive today and to be born in the years to come. A living and free Osama bin Laden will become the man who has put a permanent end to terrorism. But Osama bin Laden will not be able to do it alone, he will need full co-operation and support of President Bush, Tony Blair, President Putin, and all the other members of the Anti-Terrorist Coalition.
Below follow the steps that must be performed by the parties concerned.
George W. Bush, the President of the United States, will accept the role of the Leader, Co-ordinator, and Spokesman for the Anti-Terrorist Coalition, and, as Leader of the Anti-Terrorist Coalition, will issue a formal proclamation ordering the implementation of the above steps. The text of the Bush Proclamation is attached as a separate document.