It’s probably far too soon to be publishing ideas of the sort expressed in this article. Whilst there may be more than a grain of truth in what is written, we must remember that the American administration in power now is not the same as the administrations that preceded it. Nor is the American administration the same as the American people – most Americans are quite capable of thinking for themselves on their own two feet, and do not blindly follow what the President says. However, I am concerned that the Democrats have said they will give whatever the President asks for (the leader of the Democrats in the Senate said words to this effect in an interview I heard on the BBC at lunch time) – an unquestioning attitude is surely the wrong attitude.
I’d be interested to see some media coverage from Arab nations. I heard some reports this morning on BBC Radio of what the press are reporting in Egypt and Pakistan – a combination of horror, revulsion, fear and apprehension. The Egyptian press is particularly angry at western media for giving “undue prominence” to the small number of Palestinians who celebrated the terrorists’ actions. The Pakistani press comments on the fact that the Afghan people did not elect the Taleban regime, are in many cases oppressed by it, are in some places fighting it, and did not invite Osama bin Laden into their country.
Further thought: on Tuesday morning, the FBI and other authorities knew nothing about the attacks that were clearly being planned and had been planned for a long time, in spite of having the largest counter-terrorist budget in the world. And yet, within 36 hours, they are confident that Osama bin Laden is the culprit. Journalists, commentators and experts in other parts of the world (i.e. outside the US) are not so sure. I’m not an expert, but you have to wonder if a man who has to keep moving around a war torn, ravaged, mountainous country, cut off from the rest of the world and isolated from the global communications network is really in a position to organise this. Even if he was involved, could he have achieved it alone?
Experts I have heard speaking about bin Laden are quick to point out that, whilst he is a figurehead and leader of the network (they don’t use the word “organisation”), there are plenty of other well equipped, well organised, well supported and powerful men who are just as capable of organising and achieving the destruction we have all witnessed.
I think we should be careful not to be too hasty to codemn bin Laden before there is real evidence to link him with this – remember McVeigh.
Also, in just the same way as we must not accuse all Americans of being knee-jerk reactionaries, baying for blood and vengeance, equally we must not accuse all members of Islam of being fundamentalist extremists seeking to destroy “American imperialism”. From what I have seen, read and heard, the vast overwhelming majority of Islamic people are utterly horrified by what has happened. This is not about Islam – this is about terrorists.
If we head down that path, then we shall be in the same situation that exists in Northern Ireland – people caught up in their own history, trapped and unable to move forward – a place where people with different religions (even though they believe in the same god) can not live together. A place where taxi drivers of one faith are murdered if they take a fare into an area dominated by members of the other faith. A place where teenagers are shot in the knees as punishment for what they believe in. A place where five year old children are the targets of stun grenades as they walk to school because of their faith.
If we head down the path of blaming Islamic faith, then that situation will not just be confined to Northern Ireland, or even to the Middle East – it will become global, and will truly be hell on earth.