The Great Debate: Are We Really Waging A War Against Terrorism?

By Blatu Nagbe

The Perspective

October 22, 2001

Call it what you may, "The rich gets richer and the poor poorer", we are awakened by the thundering voice of the mighty, the rich that is, as that of the virtually voiceless, the poor, ever falls on deaf ears, and is growing ever weaker and weaker. Yes, this first of the Twenty-First Century War is being waged against terrorism, as the trumpet blasts, rallying all of us, letting us know that it is a "A New Kind Of War", a war against "Terrorism Wherever It May Be".

This sets the stage for the following parallel. Not so distant in our immediate past as a "Global Village", we witnessed across our television screens, how in a very little corner of the globe, the most recent act of barbarism, terrorism of a worst kind was carried out. We saw how the limbs of innocent victims in the tiny country of Sierra Leone were hacked off by so-called freedom fighters. We became aware of the perpetrators and the masterminds that orchestrated this vicious act of terrorism mainly upon "Innocent Civilians". What have we done about it so far? Answer: Nothing. No, people of the "New Village", what we all saw on our television screens is not something out of a Hitchcock Thriller Flick.

Yes, people of the "New Village", what we all saw is real, and it did not happen during the Second World War. And what did not make it to our living rooms are the atrocities from the Mother of the Sierra Leonean war crimes, the Liberian Civil war crimes, where eye witnesses saw thugs take bets on the gender of the unborn and settling the bets by splitting open the stomach of the hapless mother. Yes, it happened just yesterday, just before the dawn of this all too young Twenty-First Century of ours! The yearning to bring these terrorists to justice has been coming from the poor, the weak. Thus as usual, it is coming off so faint that we pretend not to hear it.

It took the United Nations just a matter of hours to slightly modify and evoke one of its "Self Defense Codes" to launch this New War. It took Member Nations just a few days to rally and evoke another United Nations battle cry, "All For One, And One For All". Yet, for the past two years or more the same United Nations has virtually given up in finding donations from the same Member Nations for a few million dollars, a mere pocket change for most of them, to set up a "War Crimes Tribunal" to help bring these "Limb Hackers" to justice on the West Coast of Africa. Let it be asked again. Are we sure we are waging a war against "Terrorism Wherever It May Be"? And for a follow-up question, are we going to sit cowardly by and apply the usual relativity to our sensitivity, where terrorist acts are punishable in one region but enjoy impunity in others, registering another dark chapter in our history where we allowed evil to triumph?

What we are hearing today, as we launch this New War, is how we have learned from mistakes made in the past, that is, starting a job and not finishing it. The drive then is to make sure that all tentacles of terrorism are severed, leaving no doubt that the resulting political and social climate would not regenerate these same tentacles. It is a daunting but an achievable undertaking. But let’s make it truly "global" for the sake of all humanity. For the West African sub-region in particular, what is being advocated here is not the use of "Bees and tomahawks", namely B-2’s , B-52’s and their chopping cousins. The world knows this region cannot afford them, and if they did, they probably would be in the wrong hands, that of the terrorists.

Therefore, what will suffice is a simple exercise of moral conscience, channeled in the form of the necessary funds needed to bring to justice these regional terrorists and their leaders at a War Crimes Tribunal, leaving the same anticipated political and social climate that would have any chance succeeding at democracy.

For the sake of humanity, let’s be true to our conscience, as we are all in accordance with the definition of "terrorism" and the dangers it poses to our very existence, let’s not repeat the mistakes of our past, let’s not wage this war selectively. The time has come now for "Global Village" to be accepted for its true meaning.

For subscription information, go to: www.theperspective.org or send e-mail to: editor@theperspective.org