FEPS Fresh Thinking

9/11 changed the world. This is what most of the comments made this week-end stipulate. The world seems to have shrunk in many ways in the last decade. It goes without saying that we still suffer the consequences: thousands of innocent people killed at 9/11, the wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan, the wave of violence and terror with attacks in Europe (Madrid and London), in North Africa, in the Middle East, in Indonesia, in India and elsewhere. The terrorists have no reason to kill innocent people or involve them in their fight without motives!

Terrorism affects society. The most effective way to counter it is to reaffirm our values – this is exactly what terrorists want to destroy. This was the strong answer of the Norwegian leadership following the terrorist attacks in Oslo this summer. The Norwegians were outstandingly unanimous in declaring that the best response to terrorism is a strong convention around democratic values and the rule of law. The values of freedom of expression and tolerance are the way to confront terror.

On the other hand, the threat from an international group such as Al Qaeda is different from that of a domestic terrorist. Confronting international terrorism means rigorous, well-resourced and global efforts by police and intelligence services to prevent attacks and bring the worst criminals to justice.

However confronting terrorism means also to do the utmost to stimulate development and growth for the well-being in the world. It is globalisation which brought the growing interdependencies between regions, countries and people. The shape of the new global relations has so far been challenged, also by the terrorists. The financial crisis, together with the current economic crisis, exposed that
the real disaster of today is the collapse of our system and the crisis of global governance.

The argument of the “clash of civilizations” (Samuel Huntington) is over-stereotyping. Similarly, the religious argument of the differences between the Islam and Christianity is too simple. The only answer to combat terrorism is stimulating growth and welfare to overcome poverty.

So far significant steps have been made towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals but not enough. It is a discredit that the Millennium Development Goals are not seen as one of the most effective approaches to overcome terrorism. Stimulating growth requires not just easier monetary and fiscal policies, but continued pressure for reforms of the global governance system. Reform of the global system is critically important but is currently in stalemate. A new push is needed from the leaders of major countries, acting together through a reformed G-20 that effectively includes emerging market economies such as China, India, Brazil, and others. Moreover, since global challenges are interrelated, they demand integrated approaches, with greater coordination and synergy among international institutions.

Indeed, the threat of terrorism should not be ignored. But the way out is not continuing war in Afghanistan and intervening in Somalia or being more than cautious in our part of the world. The long term solution is to overcome poverty and to give happiness to people so that they can afford a decent life and educate their children in a proper way with hope for their future. The seed of growth
and welfare falls then on a fertile ground to overcome the reasonless and concentrated hatred of the terrorists against the US and Europe. Here lies the responsibility of the governments in these two continents.

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  1. Ernst,
    I totally agree and think that the develeopment help and other support efforts should not be cut but kept on a high level. We need to help the poorer countries to get on their feet and stabilize.
    The only problem is that some of us here lived above their financial possibilities and missed some opportunities (looking only after theirown welfare and power) during the last years so that even countries of the “first world” now face some problems (finance crisis, educational gaps, unemplyoment of yoiung people etc) so that we created new problem areas even here in Europe rather than looking to help the countries of the third world. Politicians have failed. We need to come back to serve the core needs.
    Kind regards

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