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The recent terrorist attacks in London and the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh have shaken Russians no less than people in other countries
Daily Chechnya-related acts of terror have not yet turned the Russians into callous robots who perceive explosions as a routine like sunrises and sunsets. A recent poll shows that 79% of Russians are afraid of being blown up or shot by terrorists. At the same time, many people in Russia, including analysts, are trying to understand the motives of those who perpetrate this global evil. There is even a tinge of compassion for these outcasts who are perceived by the man in the street as being harassed by the authorities. Such an attitude is typical of the Russian national character. The author Viktor Astafyev described this psychological aberration in his story about a village murderer. The villagers themselves caught the rogue, but when the police arrived they sided with him, asking for mercy on his behalf. The murderer quickly became a martyr. This psychological paradox compels one to treat international terrorists as humans, and to understand why normal people turn into devils incarnate. "Muslim terrorists are also people. There is nothing in their motives that adherents of other religions wouldn't have," a prominent Russian academic wrote in a newspaper. Advocates of this unconventional view refuse to see terrorists as simply religious fanatics who hate Western society and dream about a global Caliphate. This is too simplistic. International terrorism is undoubtedly linked to Islam, but it is rooted not in this religion as such, but in the historic circumstances in which Islamic territories and states have found themselves, and not of their own free will. What do hotbeds of terrorism like the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Iraq have in common? They are victims of the aggressive and predominantly hostile interference of White civilization, or the West, into their way of life. Comparison of the initial plans to partition British Palestine between Jews and Arabs with the final version sealed in the 1947 UN resolution will reveal a stunning fact: Over the years the Arab area was reduced by Western diplomatic manipulations many times over, not to mention the territories later annexed by Israel as war trophies. In much the same vein Afghanistan fell victim to Soviet aggression, and later on to geopolitical rivalry between the then superpowers: the U.S.S.R and the U.S. Subsequently these patterns of interference were supplemented in Iraq and Afghanistan with occupation by the U.S. Army. Recent leaders in Kabul and Baghdad are so dependent that they seem akin to the Rajas and other governors via whom Britain once ordered about India and Pakistan. It is time to face reality. States and territories breeding international terrorism are largely under foreign domination. But this word combination is part of the 1972 UN General Assembly Resolution that reaffirmed "its recognition of the legitimacy of the struggle of the colonial peoples and peoples under alien domination to exercise their right to self-determination and independence by all the necessary means at their disposal." The Resolution says "by all the necessary means", i.e., including means that may be described as either guerrilla warfare with subversions, etc., or terrorism, to use a modern expression. This logic suggests the conclusion that the U.S., Britain, and other members of the Iraqi coalition are at war with forces using the UN-recognized means of resistance. A la guerre comme a la guerre. A bomb does not select victims. Why be upset that guerrilla attacks, to use this term, kill innocent people, women, children and seniors? Starting from World War II, civilian casualties have surpassed military losses in all wars. The British military who ordered the carpet bombing of Dresden could not care less about the security of innocent old people, women and children. Moreover, citizens of Western democracies bear heavy responsibility for the actions of their governments, if they justify this title. In theory, if enough voters wanted to, they could have curbed these actions. But instead the majority of the population in the United States and Britain voted for the re-election of George Bush and Tony Blair, respectively, thereby accepting some risks involved in these decisions, including the risk to their own lives. I am deliberately taking on the dubious position of devil's advocate in order to understand what happens in the brains of those who board a metro train with a rucksack filled with explosives and press the deadly button. Maybe their reckless, misanthropic act still has a morsel of logic, no matter how cruel it may sound? This does not at all mean that anti-terrorist struggle should be curtailed. But maybe it makes sense to change the methods, and a theatre of military operations. It would be useful if the West started to gradually reduce its military and other presences on terror-breeding territories. This would deprive the opponents of "alien domination" of their arguments. But George Bush has just ruled out a fast withdrawal of troops from Iraq. He said that the terrorists did not understand the character and power of the United States. None of his administration officials has ever thought that it may be the other way round: Washington does not understand the character and power of the phenomenon that confronts it and the rest of the civilized world. Reducing dependence on Arab countries could also help counter the growing terrorist threat. The importance of the Arab region for the leading Western powers is rather limited even today. Arab countries account for a mere 4.1% of EU aggregate exports, and 2.9% of U.S. exports. The influx of Arab labor has ceased to be a blessing for Europe, with its high unemployment rate, especially since more than half of all Arab immigrants arrive not to work but to milk the European social welfare system. Obviously, the road to a difficult victory over terrorism in remote future lies through withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Palestinian autonomy; assertion of Arab countries' rights to the Arab, not Western way of life; a search by the West for alternative energy sources in other countries, Russia included; U.S. reconciliation with the much-hated Kyoto Protocol; and involvement of true Muslims in the anti-terrorist effort. This is a very long list and could include other measures. But one thing is clear: A war against global terror cannot be won by force
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