Time to confront the monopoly myth about good and evil
By Joseph Wakim
September 26, 2003
'Terrorism groups may actually be sustained when... governments cross the line and commit outrages themselves." Wise words from Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who provided a sobering and timely circuit-breaker to the UN General Assembly regarding the spiralling "war on terror".
What is implicit in the warning is that the "enemy of civilisation" may have a cause, an attribute we reserve for the civilised world. And if there is cause, there is effect, and even logic. While he has not suggested "us" negotiating with "them", he has challenged the notion that they were born in a vacuum, hell-bent on hating us for absolutely no reason. Mr Annan consolidates this daring linkage by suggesting that justice must precede peace: "(Terrorism) will only be defeated if we act to solve the political disputes and long-standing conflicts which generate support for it."
Two years ago, any public suggestion that the September 11 attacks were an "effect" of something that the US has "caused" would have led to persecution, given the US President's battle lines: "You are either with us or with the terrorists." Mr Annan has not only challenged that taboo, but lifted the lid on the notion of monopoly - the simplistic myth that sustains the polarity between us goodies and them baddies.
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