Wednesday, May 10, 2006

April 28 Human element and terror

The human element and 'terror'

A REPORT released on Friday is a clear admission that the US-led war against terror has not only fallen far short of its objectives but has also fuelled terrorism across the globe.
The annual State Department report says that some 11,000 terrorist attacks killed 14,600 people in the year 2005. Iraq accounted for just over 30 per cent (3,500) of the 11,000 terrorist attacks worldwide and 55 per cent (8,300) of the more than 14,600 deaths.
The report affirms that the US defintion of terrorism has been broadened and hence the sharp increase in the statistics when compared with the 2004 figures ( 651 attacks and 1,907 deaths around the world).
Earlier, the criteria of "international terrorism" included only incidents involving the territory or citizens of two or more countries. The revamped definition includes incidents identified as "pre-meditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents."
Whatever the terminology, it is highly unlikely that the world could agree on a universally acceptable defition for "terrorism" that also makes a distinction between terrorist actions and legitimate resistance.
Even under the broader definition, there is a dramatic increase in the number of "terrorist attacks" as defined by the US. It should serve as a reminder for Washington to have a rethink on what went wrong where from the word go when the Bush administration launched the "war against terror" following the Sept.11 attacks in New York and Washington.
There cannot any denial that there are individuals and groups engaging in errorist attacks with the sole objective of spreading terror and creating chaos. There is nothing any country, government or people could do to meet their absurd demands and serve their senseless purposes. That paradox has no easy solution, except perhaps the society being attuned to take precautions and be ready to deal with such actions whenever they happen.
At the same time, the reason that the US-led fight against "terrorism" has made little headway despite having spent more than four years and tens of billions of dollars around the world is that the strategists behind the campaign failed to add the human element to their calculations. Poverty, unemployment and frustration stemming from denial of social justice are some of the reasons that lead to senseless actions that create terror and chaos.
Addressing such reasons need formulas to such problems depending on the geopolitics and social and economic life of individual societies. It is a mammoth task. Any beginning to embark on it needs an unambigous approach on the part of the leaders of the new world based on the understanding and acceptance that self-serving political priorities should be set aside in favour of practical solutions to real-life problems in any part of the world. People should feel that they stand to lose something if they engage in terrorism. Until that happens, the figures in the annual report on terrorism would only go up.