Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Were My Captors Worse Than The Guantánamo Jailers?"

Terry Waite via Common Dreams

On my first visit to Lebanon since my release as a hostage in 1991 I visited a refugee camp. I met some young people who were on a computer-literacy course. They had made good progress. "What about your future?" I asked. "What future?" one replied. "To get a job in Lebanon is virtually impossible as jobs go first to Lebanese citizens. We have no right of return to the place our grandfathers came from, and how can we go abroad when we are refugees? We are trapped."

That young man uttered the sentiments of thousands of displaced people in the Middle East and beyond. As I left the classroom I thought it remarkable that more young people did not join "terrorist" groups. The point I want to make is this: war, as well as being a blunt instrument, fails totally to deal with the root issues underlying terrorism. In the political realm it requires statesmen and women; individuals who can think beyond the next election and who have the wisdom that comes from making an attempt to understand cultures other than those of the west.

Western democracy has many attractive features and has brought manifold benefits. It takes no intelligence to recognise that it also has its dark side and that it cannot, nor necessarily ought it to be, exported to all parts of the world. If the optimistic statements made by some British and US politicians before the Iraqi war - when it was stated that the conflict would be concluded in weeks - were truly believed then one can only despair at the level of understanding demonstrated. more


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