Who are the terrorist is a matter of information. Knowing their nationalities and their names, for instance, would be an indication of who they are.
However, this information, useful as it may be, is too individual and gives no clue about the nature of the terrorist, the reasons who made some persons become terrorists. Still, it is this later kind of information, the nature of the terrorist and the reasons who led him to become one, who can help us discover and fight terrorism and, still more importantly, prevent its growth.
There is a tendency to consider the terrorist as being an evil person, or a fanatic one. It is a tendency to demonise “the enemy”. This can be damaging whatever the case. However, in the case of an enemy difficult to locate, who is bred in conditions we ignore, demonising the enemy is like providing him with a shelter where he can avoid being discovered.
This reminds the vehement discussions which divided scientists at the time of Pasteur. At that time, too many people, particularly women giving birth, were dying, victims of infections. The general view was that the infecting germs were created by what was termed “spontaneous generation.” Obviously, there is no remedy against spontaneous generation.
It was Pasteur who demonstrated that no spontaneous generation could occur in a liquid solution well insulated, and brought up to the boiling point. Even after being cooled down, there would be no spontaneous generation however long we wait. It demonstrated there was a cure against infection.
It was the birth of hygienics.
Now, if the terrorists are just evil and fanatic, this is a recipe for spontaneous generation of terrorists. They can now come almost from anywhere or nowhere. There has always been fanatics and, if we do not change the world, there will always be. As to evil people, it is more in the eye of the beholder.
My eye sees evil in those who, by imposing a blockade on Iraq, have caused the death of 600.000 children. The list is long of US leaders who caused so numerous death in Vietnam, Indonesia, East Timor, Panama, Guatemala etc.. etc..
Whatever our views, it is clear that if fanatism and evil are the main cause of terrorism we are doomed, because the terrorists are then created by spontaneous generation. And then, like those who could not find a cure to infections, there would be no cure to terrorism. And because weapons of mass destructions can now be created with little means, the future remains bleak. Copycatting the New York disasters, others will surprise us, may be once or twice a year, maybe more often.
I do not believe in the spontaneous generation of germs, and I do not believe in the spontaneous generation of terrorists. There must therefore be other reasons. There must be real causes that lead a man to become a terrorist. The trouble is that pointing to these real causes is very inconvenient for the US leaders whose policies are centered in defending the interests of corporate America all over the world.
What if the real causes are poverty in the world, the exploitation of people, particularly in the underdeveloped word, the lack of authorities’ concern for preventing pollution of the earth, racial discrimination, national oppression such as the oppression of Palestine by Israel, foreign occupation etc. etc..? What is wrong with these real causes, is that recognising them for what they really are, points to the need of stopping defending the corporate interests, stopping the globalisation, stopping to make profit the motor of society.
But to avoid the infection of terrorism the only hygienic procedure is to really care for ALL people and not for the corporations. The US leaders are not prepared to go that way.
They will try to fight each spontaneous generation of terrorists. This will never end and will lead us to catstroph after catastroph.
In a given sense, the downing of the twin towers could be a collateral damage resulting from the policies of the US in the middle east.
The “Just cause” operation, launched by Bush’s father on Panama, caused thousands of victims. This is the price non US-citizens had to pay for a “just cause”
Viewed from that angle, it is a natural question to ask what is the relation between, on one hand, the expected number of victims and their kind and, on the other hand, the infinitude of the justice of the cause.
To attack Panama, a country with no military power worth mentioning, to kill a great number of innocent Panameans, did not require a cause to be infinitly just. The target was geographically well defined. The guilty party was one single man: Noriega. Justice without adjective could suffice.
However, to prepare the public to an appreciable loss of American lives, and a still much greater number of non-American lives, to prepare the public to a possible extension of the list of enemies, to prepare the nation for a possible attack against chosen “rogue countries” nothing less than infinite justice is required. Or is it?
Before Bush used the term “infinite justice”, the US public opinion was solidly behind him and prepared to accept and do what it takes to eliminate terrorism. The support for a “war” against terrorism was already not in question. To use the code-expression “infinite justice” is to prepare the US and the world for more than a genuine war against terrorism.
One can suspect that the “infinity of justice, is nothing more than a political anesthesic to neutralise the people’s sensitivity.
Till now, one could naively think that a cause is either just or not. Now, thanks to Bush, we can avoid the black and white simplicity. Justice can be graded from zero to infinity, exactly as a woman can be a little bit pregnant or infinitly pregnant.
Passengers in a plane have refused to take their seats as long as a few Arab passengers would not be prevented to fly with them. A Mcveigh would have been welcomed. He would be from the good western civilisation.
The use of the expression “western civilisation” is abusive. It is western civilisation which produced nazism, and it is the Arab civilisation which produced the most tolerant society in Spain, at a time at which the West was still barbaric. And that tolerant and Arab civilisation was also Islamic.
There is the story of a person trying to find a coin he had lost on the street. A passer-by joined him in the search. After a while he asked: “are you sure you lost your coin here?” “No”, replies the man. Then pointing somewhere else he added: “I lost it there, but here there is more light.
That is what Bush is doing. He looks at the terrorism in non-western civilisation, in non-western values, in fanatism and in evil. For Bush there is a lot of light there. It is time to look where terrorism is really bred: poverty, injustice, exploitation, corporations, globalisation, national oppression, prejudices, discriminations etc..