July 10, 2003 Halifax Herald

Creating terrorism roots for next generation

WHILE assessing the televised and newspaper reports about the American and British post-war military failures in Iraq, one cannot help but wonder at the overwhelming lack of foresight of their military and political strategists - at least those who were charged with planning for the post-war occupation of the country. To state that the occupation to date has been an unmitigated disaster is putting it mildly. In fact, the situation is almost unbelievable.

Living conditions are so bad in post-Saddam Iraq that many Iraqis are pining for the good old days of his despotic rule. Safety and security are spotty at best. Criminals and thugs of all stripes run amok and operate openly, with almost complete impunity. Essential services are practically non-existent in many parts of the country; for instance, medical services are in disarray and not improving to any great extent. Freedom, wow!

It's ironic, but under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was not a breeding ground for terrorists in the same league as are many of our close allies - Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, for instance. Not one of the terrorists of 9/11 came from Iraq, and not many detained by the U.S. in Cuba are Iraqi. Now, after billions were spent to unseat Saddam's barbaric regime - completely justifiable, in my opinion - if things don't soon change, the country will probably become one of the world's most productive breeding grounds for terrorists. A classic case of winning the war, but losing the peace!

The situation in Afghanistan isn't much better. Outside of Kabul, where a dictum of law and order prevails, the warlords rule unhampered by regard for human dignity. Women are once again being marginalized, the rule of law a distant dream. And the funds promised by the West to help fix things are also a distant dream.

These quotes from a report by Amnesty International aptly describe the situation:

"Although the process of political transition is underway in Afghanistan, and there have been many positive changes, the security situation remains poor. The Transitional Islamic Administration of Afghanistan cannot assert control outside of Kabul, allowing factional fighting and insecurity to proliferate around much of the country. The institutions essential for the implementation of the rule of law, which protects human rights, including police, prisons and the judiciary, remain weak.

"Crime and violence: There are high levels of violent crime in urban centres and along roads. The widespread availability of arms and the lack of sufficient and co-ordinated security forces have allowed murder, armed robberies and highjackings to be committed unchecked in many areas . . ."

One wonders, as the average Afghan citizens cower behind locked doors at night praying to Allah that they will live to see the light of dawn, if they give thanks for the democracy they are enjoying.

In the present situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, the only ones truly enjoying the fruits of "freedom" are the undesirables. In the name of human decency, the West needs to make a concerted effort to set things right in both countries, or be prepared to suffer in future years the terrible acts of the terrorists that the present state of affairs will produce if left to fester.

Speaking of human decency, I have another troubling observation. It seems that the West will only act forcefully to put a stop to genocidal behaviour when it deduces that its oil supplies are threatened, or if the people being slaughtered are white - with religious beliefs, as in the Balkans, playing some part.

Towards the carnage perpetrated in non-white countries, made worse by the arms largely supplied by them, the Western countries turn a blind eye. Or, occasionally, when the situation becomes truly bloody, they tut-tut. For instance, Pol Pot liquidated almost half of Cambodia's population, two million or so, with hardly a peep of protest from Western capitals. It took communist Vietnam, then viewed as an evil entity by the West, to put a stop to it.

When assessing the West's neglect of non-white genocidal cases, Rwanda, of course, leaps to mind. A horrific slaughter of somewhere between 500,000 and a million took place while the West sat on its hands. Today, we have the Congo awash in a coat of blood. Some reliable sources set the death toll of mostly innocent people at close to four million and rising. But, unexplainably, there is no rush by the West to stop the slaughter.

What gives? Is racism playing a part in the seeming indifference of the West to the horrific human suffering being played out on a daily basis in numerous non-white countries? If it isn't, why isn't there a concerted effort being made to stop it?

If we ever hope to make a defensible case that we now live in a civilized world, it's time for the United Nations to set a policy that will make it mandatory for forceful interventions in nations that are beset by genocidal mayhem. The hordes of innocent victims deserve no less!

Daniel N. Paul


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