The sick cycle of terrorism

The atmosphere of international politics today is increasingly being fogged by the prevalence of “sub-state” entities.

This, international journalist James Hoge says, is a far cry from the straight-laced, opposing political ideologies that sparked wars and commanded the distribution of world powers in the early half of the 20th century.

Hoge, editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, kicked off International Education week at the Special Events Center Monday night, delivering a speech that gave his expert insight into a plethora of issues concerning world affairs.

He explained that in the United States’ war on terror, the basis for conflict is rooted in fundamental differences in cultural and religious beliefs. Anti-American sentiment in Europe and the Middle East has spawned radical terrorist groups, which represent not one country, but the extremist ideas of fundamentalists in an entire region, he said.

The conflict is further complicated by a two-tier world, where the United States is the dominant world power — politically, militarily and economically — and other countries, particularly Arab nations, are left behind.

In addition, he said, while young Arabs are being educated, both here and in their own countries, they are not able to find jobs in struggling Middle-Eastern economies, leaving them nowhere else to utilize their brainpower than in radical terrorist groups.

This type of vicious cycle does not “lend itself to remedies by one state alone,” he said. “Cooperation is going to be needed.”

Hoge said one major problem plaguing the United States is its “trans-Atlantic” relationships with countries in Europe, with whom the United States shares common history, similar economic potential and uses similar military tactics.

But since the Sept. 11 attacks, some analysts see these relationships as crumbling. Hoge says, one even going as far as saying Europe and the United States no longer “share a common world view.”

Hoge thinks that view is extreme, and while the United States could do better in world politics by being more open to consultation, there are still many countries in Europe on its side.

This, he said, was proven last year when following the attacks, NATO invoked its Mutual Defense Clause for the first time, sending troops to Afghanistan to aid the United States in its early strikes.One country Hoge sees as being a potential impediment to strengthening trans-Atlantic relations is Germany.

Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder, when losing his re-election campaign with just over a week left, barred German troops from participating in action against Iraq, even if it is sanctioned by NATO. This, Hoge said, was simply a medium by Shroeder, used to fuel the flames of German anti-American sentiment.

Shroeder won the election, and now Hoge says the chancellor will further promote his “new German way with decisions made in Berlin and Berlin only.”

“And Germany may reflect resentments elsewhere in Europe,” Hoge added.

Hoge used his theory of crippled European relations to transition into another issue that affects the United States dramatically: the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Hoge says European nations generally support a forced peace settlement orchestrated by the United States, but he says that would only lead to further unrest in the region and undoubtedly more terrorism.

A common misconception, he said, is that Palestine is the basis for al-Qaida-related attacks. This, he says, is false. Again, the reason the United States is in conflict with many Arabic nations is found in cultural, religious and ethnic differences, he says.

The United States sticking its proverbial finger in the pie of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict would only incite further unrest.

“We apparently do not have the leverage other countries think we have,” Hoge said. “These two parties are so capable of going to war with each other that an imposed peace would not last for long.”

In addition, dismantling and rebuilding Iraq as a democracy, a concept widely endorsed by the Bush administration, would produce similar results.

While speaking on Iraq, Hoge gave a timeframe for when and under what circumstances the United States could launch a strike on the country.

He said that on Dec. 8, Saddam Hussein is expected to disclose to U.N. officials a list of weapons of mass destruction he possesses and has agreed to eliminate.

If Hussein’s disclosure of the weapons matches what U.S. intelligence believes he has, the United States can move on to step two in the process, which is having inspectors verify the list and ensure that the weapons are removed from the country.

If Hussein’s list of weapons comes up short of what the United States believes he has, then a strike could be launched, Hoge said.

Following his lecture, one audience member asked Hoge what, if any similarities he saw between Iraq and North Korea.

Hoge made it clear that even if Iraq utilized its stock of chemical and biological warfare, the scope of the damage would be “infinitely less than what could be done by North Korea.”

“One (nation) has nuclear weapons. The other would like to have them,” he said of North Korea and Iraq, respectively.

The United States, Hoge said, cannot be held completely at fault for many of today’s world conflicts because it has helped establish groups such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, which promote peace and economic prosperity worldwide.

However, he warned that a unilateral, pre-emptive strike on Iraq must be carefully considered with the sentiments of other countries in mind.

“If a dominating power like us operates without consultation with others, we run the risks of some major miscalculations,” he said.