The root of terror lies in poverty

By Chris Morrison

Does anyone actually think defeating the Taliban will make a lick of difference? Sure, Osama bin Laden will be relieved of a base of operation and might even be killed. However, that does not mean the terrorism common to people in the Third World will come to an end. Oh no, part of me thinks the worst is not over, but just beginning.

If a tree is rotting, one cannot simply cut off the branches. The tree will still grow, will still rot and its roots might infect other trees. The only way to deal with a rotting tree is to attack the roots, so that it can no longer grow or attach itself to other trees.

Bin Laden and the Taliban are merely branches, not roots. The roots of this tree are poverty and despair. Bin Laden, his negative interpretation of Islam and his use of jihad as a justification for murderous assaults on his chosen enemies appeals to the oppressed in many countries. These same oppressed see Western nations ignoring their plight while the likes of bin Laden pay attention. Their hopeless situation and our indifference to it gives people like bin Laden the opportunity they need.

If Bush, Blair and all the other missile-toting nimrods that pass for leaders today want to really fight a war on terrorism–not just some half-assed assault where certain groups are wiped out but general resentment of the West, and America in particular, still lingers–they must deal with that poverty and despair.

Dropping the debt owed by the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich is a start. It would give various Western countries some moral currency in the Third World–something America and its colonial master friends, Britain and France, are seriously lacking.

Other options include showing compassion towards Africa. Never has one part of the world been so done over. From slavery to imperialism to colonialism, Africa has been abused and exploited by Western nations for 500 years.

War, famine and plague are everyday life for a majority of Africans. Approximately 8,000 people die in Africa of AIDS and AIDS-related causes every day. Conservative estimates state that one-quarter of the adult population of South Africa, the most aZuent nation on the continent, has AIDS. Within a decade 250,000 South Africans will die annually from AIDS. An estimated 40 million more will be AIDS orphans. That’s 40 million children who will lose their parents to this disease, and I haven’t even mentioned the thousands who die each day due to hunger and war.

What do AIDS orphans in Africa have to do with Osama bin Laden? Nothing, yet. But if Bush and Blair decide that the job of ending terror is done after toppling the Taliban, possibly Iraq, and then ignore the reasons for such terror, the next attacks on America might not be planned from Kabul, but from Lagos or Kinshasa.

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