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Working together to combat aggression

WAR is not necessarily a bad thing. War can be positive in itself and have positive outcomes, depending on what is being attacked and how the attack occurs.

In the past few decades, the Western world has waged positive wars on negative aspects of society, such as wars on poverty, crime, and illicit drugs. Given the increasing rate of all three, these wars appear to be lost, although battles hopefully will have been won.

There are more than 30 wars raging on our tiny planet, 28 of them holy wars based on religious intolerance. President George W Bush has declared a military war against terrorism.

Unlike America’s most recent wars in the Persian Gulf and Vietnam, this enemy has no political or economic boundaries. As Interpol and the CIA will testify, terrorists exist in every developed and many developing nations. They are wealthy and poor, educated and illiterate, intelligent and intellectually challenged, young and old. They are, however, predominantly male.

Terrorists share two attributes – a passionate belief in their cause and a willingness to do whatever is required, including suicide. It is this willingness to commit suicide that is the terrorists’ ultimate weapon. They do not negotiate.

We democratic Westerners have a deep problem dealing with anyone who will not negotiate. We have only one response on record – elimination.

Terrorists, because of their immense diversity, both geographically and economically, and their deep fanaticism, cannot be disempowered through controls or containment. And, although a few high-profile ringleaders will be easy to identify and eliminate, they will be instantly replaced by equally skilled, committed, and ready lieutenants, eager for the chance to die heroically for their cause.

Ironically perhaps, aggression against these fanatics will justify and fuel their fanaticism, proving we, their enemy, can be as excessive and extreme, as fanatical, as they are.

In the ancient Chinese guide to life, I Ching, is written: “The generals say: There is no greater misfortune than underestimating your enemy. Under-estimating your enemy means thinking that he is evil. Thus you destroy your three treasures of simplicity, patience, and compassion, and become an enemy yourself.”

Like the wars on poverty, drugs, and crime, we cannot win the war on terrorism by attacking those directly involved. Elimination of terrorism by killing the terrorists we can find will not work.

We may temporarily drive them underground and slow their expansion, and we may punish some particularly nasty beneficiaries, but terrorism will prevail until we remove the causes upon which they feed.

Maybe we have reached a point of civilised development where we no longer have a choice but to review the existing global situation with an eye to changing the obvious inequities we see sustained by our greed-based economic system.

These days no one, ultimately, can win a war. It is up tothose of us not locked into a competitive, aggressive, win-lose paradigm to work together to find a better way of doing things, to deny the need for aggression, and to find the win-win-win for us all.

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