What is your idea of a typical terrorist?
There is a variety of opinions on the subject, including references to the Bible and "seed of Cain", Islamic fundamentalists and people motivated by religious hatred in general, Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and its Palestinian, Basque or Irish brethren. This list may be continued and everyone will come up with his own idea of a typical terrorist. So many men, so many minds. However, as life shows it is essential that we all be clear on what terrorism is.
According to Black's Law Dictionary terrorism is "the use or threat of violence to intimidate or cause panic, especially as a means of affecting political conduct". However, one should be aware that terrorism is a crime and this definition is to be applied in criminal law and does not cover relations between states. This "subtlety" seems to be overlooked by certain political leaders who tend to regard some countries as terrorist entities. If we stick to this point of view strangely enough apart from the well-known and well-circulated episodes one of the things that comes to my mind after reading this definition is the bombing of Yugoslavia and a number of other examples of the U.S. foreign policy. This is some food for thought, isn't it?
Why wasn't the USA ready to face these drastic terrorist attacks?
The act of terror committed on September 11, 2001 was different from all that preceded. Firstly, it was an assault on the U.S. made in the U.S. territory which has been unheard of since Pearl Harbour. Secondly, the scale of the assault which happened in one synchronised event. Thirdly, it was done professionally. This is the explanation that lies on the surface.
If you come to think of it, the day the airplanes hit the World Trade Centre was not the day when all this started, it was the day when it came back to America. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the USA enjoyed its hegemony reverting to its worst habits on the international arena with impunity and almost without limitation, causing resentment of American power and anti-American resistance in many countries. Every action generates a counteraction. This is common knowledge. The U.S. policy-makers seem to overlook this simple rule bombing people from time to time and thinking that their "good intentions" and "interests" justify it.
What measures should have been taken to prevent this horror?
It would probably be more appropriate to talk about policy preventing terrorism rather than measures preventing acts of terror themselves since the latter should be within the competence of special services. In terms of policy it would have saved America a lot of trouble if it had pulled back from the role of world-policeman. There is no doubt that the USA should play and will play an active role as an integral part of the international community. The key words, however, are those about being an integral part rather than something supreme and at times opposed to the world community.
It has been mentioned on a number of occasions that terrorists are waging war against Western democracy and values. As I said earlier, every action generates a counteraction. What happens is that Western countries cooperate with other countries by turning them into their raw-materials-producing appendage. They do make investments in their economies but at the same time dominate over them, impose their own model and expect them to act in line with their understanding of how it all should be arranged in this world. In case of disagreement this approach is sometimes complemented by a show of force. Prevention of terrorism should be based on policy respecting other nations' lifestyle, history and traditions, on partnership and cooperation which is free from any dominance. True values do not have to be thrust upon anyone.
What are the top priority measures to combat international terrorism?
The war, as defined by President Bush, is absolutely not the way to defeat terrorists. As is well known, prevention is the best and most efficient cure, but facing the situation the way it is now it seems that the main efforts should be made along the following lines:
Desire for vengeance may be a simple self-defence mechanism, however, no proportional reparation is possible and the dead cannot return. The perpetrators must be brought to justice and punished but it does not mean that war should be unleashed against a number of countries on a subjective assumption that certain disagreeable regimes personify evil itself. If such regimes pose a threat and render assistance to terrorists, action must be taken by the international community through the UN and that's the way to do it. Law is what differentiates a civilised world from the world of chaos where military strength is the synonym of justice.
The reaction to terrorist attacks of September 11th has been extremely diverse. Among other things there have appeared a number of black humour Websites on the subject as well as numerous computer games and "politically incorrect" animations. What do you think about it?
Perhaps Russian people know it better than anybody else that humour helps to withstand many things in this world. Laughter is a way of transforming a passive suffering into an active response to the situation depending, of course, on the kind of humour in question.
I think that jokes about the perpetrators should be distinguished from jokes about the victims. Of these two types of humour the former reminds me of the movies made in the Soviet Union during the Second World War about Germans, especially at the very beginning of their invasion. They were very naive but at the same time it was essential to infuse courage into the Soviet people facing such a powerful enemy. I do not think there is much dispute about this type of jokes. As for jokes about the victims there are different points of view. I do not think such jokes are acceptable.
Legendary director Robert Altman says that "Hollywood action films have served as a source of inspiration to terrorists. The movies set the pattern, and these people have copied the movies". Do you think terrorists are getting inspiration from Hollywood films?
Many Americans tended to view the terrorist attacks on September 11th as a disaster movie saying: "It was like Independence Day or Die Hard". I am sure that most Europeans have associations which have nothing to do with Hollywood.
I admit that violence on the screen affects human behaviour but I do not think that terrorists get inspired by Hollywood movies or anything of the sort. It is pure logic that makes them find ways to inflict heavy casualties on their enemy. With all due respect to Robert Altman and Hollywood in general I think this idea is an overstatement.
Some researchers predict that "America is in danger of losing this war because of political correctness. "If we can't identify who the enemy is - and, in fact, refuse to do so - haven't we lost already?" - could you comment on this statement?
Shortly after September 11th one of the Websites carried an announcement saying that "U.S. Vows To Defeat Whoever It Is We Are At War With". I am afraid that the USA still cannot clearly identify who the enemy is. According to President Bush and his administration the ultimate enemy is evil itself. If that is the case it takes divine rather than American intervention to win such a victory. If eradication of evil is the new US foreign policy it should be remembered that according to the Book of Genesis there is always evil in the world.
What happens is that "war on terror" turns into war proper between states and nations and, therefore, one concept is substituted with another. It is very important to understand that terrorism is a crime and it should be seen in the light of criminal and international law. If America stopped acting like the Lone Ranger, if it stopped using the war on terrorism as a way to pursue its own interests, if it stopped interfering in other states' antiterrorist policy being at the same time much more lenient towards its own harsh action and mistakes, if a joint and concerted effort was focussed on development and application of appropriate rules of law and the existing rules and standards were equally binding on all without any exceptions it would reduce the danger of losing this war immensely.
The greatest concern of the world community is finding effective ways of defeating terrorism. In your opinion, can we hope that one day we will win the War on Terror?
This question is as difficult to answer as the question about defeating crime in general. It takes cooperative action of the whole community and so called developed countries should realise that economic prosperity and abject poverty do not get along very well, especially if such prosperity is achieved by policy declaring equality and partnership but in fact skimming the cream off. It is economically sound to use cheap labour and move hazardous production to other countries but the question is if it is smart politically in the new world, especially if such a policy is coupled with a periodic show of force.
If the approach changes and the policy is aimed at pursuing global interests rather than interests of individual countries or a group of countries, terrorists will be undermined, starved of political, economic and ideological fuel and no bombing will be required.
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