Opinion: Stepping up the war on terrorism



By Elie Dvorin

Those uninterested in the truth would have you believe the war on terrorism is simply a war against Islam. The reality of the situation is much different. The war is designed to destroy all forms of terrorism plaguing mankind; it just so happens Islamic terrorism poses the gravest danger to the Western world and (as I stated last week) to deny that simply is wrong and foolish. The war on terrorism, itself, benefits nobody. A world free of terrorists benefits everybody, including Muslims, which is why an unwavering commitment to defeating terrorism by the free world is imperative.

The benefit of a terrorist-free world is rather obvious: Safety and security greatly would increase. However, most people don’t recognize the positive impact this would have on the Islamic world as well. Democracy (in any form) is all but impossible to establish in a society run by terrorist thugs. In addition, too much money and too many valuable resources are wasted on funding, placating and supporting Islamic terrorist groups and governments at the expense of citizens of the Arab world.

If Yasser Arafat wasn’t diverting millions of dollars of international aid to pay for weapons and bombs to kill Israelis, the Palestinians would have had a functioning economy and school system by now. If the Saudi government didn’t pander to the demands of terrorists in fear of losing control, the Saudis could have had a government that responds to their needs. If Lebanon were free of the brutal Syrian occupation, religious and political freedom would have replaced strict press censorship and a lack of cultural identity.

A Middle East free of terrorist groups and dictatorial, terror-supporting regimes is a Middle East ripe for the influx of democratic values. The notion that some form of democracy could never take hold in the Middle East is simply false. Turkish President S leyman Demirel recognized the truth of that statement when he said, “(Turkey) has successfully demonstrated the compatibility of Islam, democracy and secularism.” But only if terrorism becomes a distant afterthought will other Arab countries be willing or able to follow Turkey’s lead in establishing a form of democracy.

A democratic breakthrough has no viable chance across the Middle East if Islamic terrorists and their supporters still run the show. To bring about significant change, the Western world (The United States, Israel, Great Britain and any non-terrorist sympathizing European countries) needs to combat terrorism in a merciless and unprecedented way.

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Furthermore, the major problem with the way we fight the war on terrorism is that we currently make a distinction between the terrorists themselves and those who harbor, support and fund them. Although President Bush vowed to combat all aspects of terrorism, the United States has not pursued terrorist supporters with enough ferocity. Without logistical support, funding and a safe haven, terrorism would not be possible.

Any person, and I use the term loosely, willing to blow him or herself up solely to kill as many innocent people as possible, needs to be physically taken out before he or she can commit such an atrocity. If this war is going to be successful, pre-emptive action is essential.

Any member of al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad or any other terrorist group must be fair game whether they physically committed an act of terrorism or simply aided it. By associating with these terrorist groups, individuals are, at best, condoning inhumane acts of destruction and, at worst, supporting or committing acts of terrorism. For this, they must be held accountable – and be punished accordingly.

Those who call the war on terrorism a war against Islam simply are avoiding the reality of the situation. Democracy and its fundamental principles are under attack, millions of lives are at stake and terrorism is the enemy.

Until the United States steps up its pursuit of terrorists, and the world-at-large recognizes that they will benefit from this as well, the Western world will leave itself extremely vulnerable.

We need to act now, because I’d hate to say “I told you so” later.

Elie Dvorin is a junior in LAS. His column runs Thursdays. He can be reached at [email protected].