Bush’s definition of terror leaves a lot to be desired

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Bush’s definition of terror leaves a lot to be desired

George W. Bush took his “war on terror” act to Berlin on Tuesday, but the US president’s real audiences were much further afield. A confluence of interests has Washington and Moscow in the same camp with regard to Islamic fundamentalism, and now the United States is trying to bribe Russia into toeing its line even more faithfully. And not all of Bush’s agenda is about terrorism: BusinessWeek magazine has quoted an unidentified oil industry official as describing energy-rich Central Asia, once a part of the now-defunct Soviet Union, as America’s prospective “51st state.” The vast majority of Muslims are as appalled by terrorism as Bush is. The discrepancies arise because of his one-sided definition. He told the Bundestag on Thursday that terrorists “hate democracy and tolerance and free expression and women and Jews and Christians and all Muslims who disagree with them” ­ and a great many of them do.

He neglected to mention, however, that there are some repugnant people of other faiths around as well: They brandish a banner of phony democracy in order to hide their penchant for a fraudulent one, demand tolerance for their own extremist views even as they deny the right of others to so much as live on their own land, claim to champion free speech but try to intimidate their critics by labeling them “anti-Semitic,” and regard women as chattel, Christians as heretics, Muslims as vermin, and Jews who disagree with them as traitors. They are the Jewish settlers who live on occupied land in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and what they do ­ coupled with the massive military might deployed to protect them ­ has terrorized an entire people for almost 35 years.

So long as one side’s militants are allowed to violate the rights of others from the comfort of homes and under the guns of a military machine paid for with US government money, no one should expect that those whom they have dislodged will remain insensate to the injustice they have suffered: And some of these unfortunate souls and their allies will resort to violence as a means of regaining what is rightfully theirs. Few would begrudge the United States a purview to further its own interests by securing alternative sources of oil and gas in Central Asia, and the struggling nation-states that have cropped up there since the fall of the Soviet Union have every reason to desire the formidable protection afforded by allying themselves with Washington. But Bush’s moves in the region will continue to be met with justifiable suspicion by Muslims there ­ and everywhere else ­ so long as he seems to regard the ex-Soviet republics’ energy resources as a scalpel with which to castrate the Arab world economically and politically.

The “51st state” is an only slightly hyperbolical description of the importance attached by the United States to Central Asia. For the Palestinians, it would be impossible to exaggerate their ties to their historic land. For them, there is only one state that matters: their own. And until Washington imposes limits on the terrorists who work to perpetuate a self-evidently unfair status quo, Palestinians and their supporters can be expected to respond in kind.

-- the oil administration ("war against terror" @ = conquest. of oil), May 25, 2002

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