War On Terrorism Addressed By Panel Of Baylor Faculty

Nov. 14, 2001

by Judy Long

Recent terrorist actions are a direct result of 80 years of Islamic suffering, and the threat has increased over the past ten years due to bad government, bad education and increased globalization, said a panel of experts who examined issues concerning the war on terrorism.

The community forum was held Monday, Nov. 12, at the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center on the campus of Baylor University.

Dr. William A. Mitchell, director of the Center for International Education; Dr. Christopher Marsh, director of Asian Studies; Dr. J. Mark Long, director of Middle East Studies; and Charles Hill, Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Diplomacy at Baylor and Distinguished Fellow in International Security and senior lecturer in international affairs at Yale University answered questions from students, faculty and the Waco community. The forum was moderated by Dr. Wallace L. Daniel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Donald Schmeltekopf, provost and vice president for academic affairs, opened the forum with a welcome and urged the audience to consider all responses to the attacks, diplomatic as well as military. The panelists then each addressed the group with some brief comments.

Mitchell said the United States military has the capability and will to win the war, though it will be costly. "We have already spent $100 million. We are not looking for revenge, but justice," he said. Mitchell said Americans will have won the war when the United States, as well as the rest of the world, can live free from the fear of terrorism.

Long said the terrorists see a clash of civilizations, but they are not necessarily disenfranchised people. Those involved in the Sept. 11 attack were well-educated, well-traveled, saw Islamic ideals as categorical, and believed there was no room for negotiation, only revenge. Long cited Osama bin Laden, who claimed the attack was just recompense "for more than 80 years of [Islamic] humiliation and disgrace" in the 20th century.

Marsh told the audience that Russia and China are strategic allies for the U.S., and that both countries are acutely aware of the hidden face of Islamic extremism. The Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was motivated in part by fear that Islamic radicals could move over the Afghani-Russian border and plague the Soviet Union with internal problems. China made the mistake of sending soldiers to fight with the Afghanis against the Soviets. When those soldiers came home, Marsh said, they returned with defiance toward their own communist government.

Hill said the terrorist conflict goes to the core of the international system. Increased globalization since the end of the Cold War weakened many nation-states, allowing money, information and people to flow across borders more easily. As terrorists moved in, the weakened states were unable to fend them off, so the states struck deals with terrorists to ensure their own safety. The events of Sept. 11 changed this dynamic, Hill said, as states harboring terrorists no longer stand to gain by hosting them. Hill expressed the hope that an international system will now develop with strengthened nation-states.

Following the initial addresses, the panel was asked to evaluate the pros and cons of suspending bombing during Ramadan, the month of fasting that will begin on Nov. 17. Mitchell warned that to suspend bombing would give a strategic advantage to Al Qaida forces, and that Muslims themselves have historically fought during Ramadan. Hill said that the U.S. announcement that military forces would continue pressure during the fast ended speculation, while Long warned that Arab media would exploit the situation to criticize America throughout the Arab world.

Panel members also addressed why terrorism exists as it does, with economic inequality, globalization, bad government and lack of education all listed as reasons. They also debated the formation of a Palestinian state.

"The concept of a Palestinian state has been accepted, and at some point, it will be formed," Hill said.

However, some Arabs have reverted to the view that Israel should be annihilated. Such a parochial view harms the Palestinian cause by preventing the signing of a peace accord between Palestine and Israel, he said.

The panelists agreed that terrorism worldwide is not limited to Islamic ideologies. The Irish Republican Army, the Basques, groups in South America, groups in the Phillippines, organizations in Britain and Germany and even individuals in the United States were all mentioned as non-Islamic terrorists. "Many of these groups have no religious affiliation, but are politically inspired," Long said.

"Terrorism is a complex issue that we will be dealing with for a long time," Mitchell said. "The threat may take generations to stamp out in its entirety."

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