In Europe it has been generally recognised that terrorism cannot be conquered by brute force. An increase in development aid and economic co-operation, and making implementing human rights a high priority was the common European reaction to September 11th. The UK however decided to follow its American Allies by using a more repressive strategy.
Instead of working with the current system in Iraq they invaded the country to ‘convert’ it to democracy. A quote taken from a journal article shows the greater understanding that Europe has compared to its American counterparts: ‘Preventing and combating terrorism is one side of the coin, eliminating its sources and root causes the other. ’11 A healthier relationship should be developed with countries that are struggling.
The journal article I referred to a moment ago points out the major causes of terrorism: ‘Lack of proper economic development, unequal distribution of material resources, failing states, the lack of respect for human rights and equal opportunities’ and I believe that if a healthier relationship was made with countries such as these, that the problems could be prevented though healing the country. Instead of suppressing their views by force, help them to be less radical in their actions by making there no reason for them to be radical.
If a country is at peace with itself, it is more likely that it will be at peace with other countries instead of, as the question states, creating a ‘clash of civilisations’. In the context of The Human Rights Act, I believe the Secretary-General of the United Nations explains it correctly; ‘we cannot achieve security by sacrificing human rights. To try and do so would hand the terrorists a victory beyond their dreams. ‘ The UK, by derogating from the Human Rights Act 1998 has done just this; given the terrorists a small victory.
To work with the countries the terrorists originate from and work toward making the world a better place may also give them a victory, but of a different kind. Terrorism aims to disrupt to prove a political or ideological point, but if that point were to become obsolete, the terrorist organisation would also become obsolete, and the occurrence of countries harbouring terrorists would reduce greatly. In conclusion, I think Lord Hoffman’s view, that the war on terrorism is more than a war or public emergency threatening the life of the nation, and in many ways can be seen to be a clash of civilisations.
In fighting this ‘war’ on terror we must however be sure not to disrupt our own beliefs and system of values, and act as humanitarian as possible. If we work together with the countries, Europe as a whole can come through this ‘war’ relatively unscathed. We must remember to tone down the more radical action being taken recently however, as incidents like the Charles de Menezes shooting show.
Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington’s view obtained from the observer online at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/21/afghanistan.religion2