The anger is understandable To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
October 4, 2001

It is quite understandable for Americans (as well as others) to be consumed with anger resulting from the terrorist attacks than it is to be concerned about the apparent motive behind the attacks. But failure to ascertain the motive can make it difficult to understand how to respond in the hope of winning the battle yet end up losing the war.

Among those who are sympathetic to the plight of the many suffering Arabs, including the Palestinians, terrorism is seen as a response to America's Mid-east policy that, arguably, favours Israel and America's interests in the region at the expense of the Arabs. World opinion may yet be one reason America is delaying its desires for 'infinite justice' against the terrorists, whoever and wherever they are.

The growing consensus among Americans, however, is that Osama Bin Laden hates America's democratic systems, including the rights of women, freedom of religious worship, and the culture it exports. But is that the sum total of his hatred?

One recent television interview featuring Bin Laden had him talking about how he and the Afghan rebels, with the help of the United States, not only repelled the Soviet Union (1979-1989), but also humiliated it as a military superpower.

He then noted that as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States became weakened (perhaps inferring that with its arch-rival gone it no longer paid attention to building up its military defences or adequately manning its national security system). It simply dropped its guard and became complacent.

Against this backdrop he contended that America became vulnerable and could be beaten. That the terrorists got through on September 11, despite a few other attempts being foiled the same day or delayed in attempts planned for later days, seemed to confirm part of his observation. America was vulnerable.

The question Americans and their leaders now need to ask is: what really is this guy's motive?

A logical follow-up would be: are there sovereign nations, not mere terrorist groups, thinking like he is, and are willing to support him?

There are various schools of thought on the motive, but the hard questions still remain.

These may seem like simple questions, but gauging from remarks by Bin Laden and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, coupled with the hard-line stance of certain Arab nations, like Iran, against America's call for support to fight terrorism, one school of thought says the motive of the attacks could well be to humiliate and dethrone America as a superpower, much like the Soviet Union.

It is logical to conclude then, that once America winds up like the Soviet Union, it will be forced to cease supporting Israel, leaving the Jewish state to fend for its survival in a place where it is not welcomed by its unfriendly neighbours who comparably are greater in number and collectively are militarily stronger.

Second, given that America was founded on Judea-Christian principles and served as the bastion of world evangelization of Christianity, any dethronement could mean the reduction or end of its role in this centuries old exercise.

Third, with radical and fanatical Muslims being responsible for initiating these potential changes and Arab nations standing to benefit, is there anything to stop them from eventually uniting and seeking to use their consolidated economic power base (oil) to influence the world according to their ideology and culture?

After all, with the Soviet Union and the United States fallen, someone has to assume superpower status.

Is it farfetched to imagine that there are Arab leaders who envision themselves at the helm of a new economic superpower bloc, by seizing control of oil production and setting their own prices?

Is it farfetched to imagine these terrorist attacks and terrorist cells strategically placed in certain countries as being the forerunners in helping fulfil the aforementioned vision?

While it may be farfetched to imagine the Arab world as a superpower that exports Islam (now the fastest growing religion in the world with 1.4 billion) like the Soviet Union exported communism and atheism while the United States exported Christianity and capitalism, it is not totally outside the realm of possibility and eventuality.

So, while Americans and their leaders ponder the next move to fight terrorism, it may be a good thing to speculate a little on (or find out) what is the long-term motive of all the attacks to-date.

And pay attention to the focus of the attacks: the United States of America, not so much the other Western nations! Deal the head a deadly blow and the rest of the body will go limp.

Will fighting terrorism eventually result in a political and economic adjustment on the part of the West, led by the United States, in dealing with the Arab world herein after?

It may take more than just a blood bath to bring suspect Bin Laden to justice or end terrorism as we are now coming to know it, but world opinion may yet influence the outcome.