Some Points on Terrorism
by Jonathan Dean, September 27, 2001
Here are some points in connection with U.S. reaction to the September
11 terrorist attacks:
Atrocious crimes have been committed. It is right
to make every effort to bring the perpetrators to justice.
This effort should be aimed at justice, not undiscriminating
Holding the perpetrators accountable and bringing
them to public trial before a suitable tribunal will disseminate
the lessons to be drawn from these atrocities and act as a deterrent
for the future.
If it is demonstrated that governments as well
as terrorist groups are implicated, then responsible persons in
those governments should be named and their delivery to a tribunal
demanded, as the U.S. has done with Osama bin Laden and his collaborators.
All anti-terrorist actions of the United States
should clearly show that the U.S. is holding specific individuals
accountable for specific reasons and should avoid blanket accusations
and indiscriminate death and injury. U.S. actions should not create
The use of military force should only be a last
resort, should be limited to the purpose of bringing presumed
perpetrators to justice, and should be visibly related to that
The UN Security Council resolution of September
12, 2001 proposed by the United States and passed with its vote
makes explicit this point of bringing individuals to justice.
Paragraph 3 of the resolution states: "[The UN Security Council]
Calls on all States to work together urgently to bring to justice
the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these terrorist attacks
and stresses that those responsible for aiding, supporting or
harbouring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these
acts will be held accountable."
We must study the sources and causes of terrorist
motivation. Information thus far available shows that most of
the nineteen perpetrators of the September 11 hijackings were
educated men from fairly solid middle class families, not unemployed
residents of refugee camps. In conducting this study, we must
be as balanced as possible, including in the study U.S. actions
and policies that might have contributed, but also considering
all other pertinent sources of motivation.
Because it is already widely known that one important
source of Muslim resentment against the USA is U.S. support for
Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation, we should urge
the administration to develop an equitable and practical plan
for resolving this confrontation, perhaps based on the last stage
of the Barak-Arafat negotiations before their collapse, and to
press this plan systematically on both Israelis and Palestinians.
The time has come for both, in the interest of world security
and their own security, to agree to a plan for reconciling their
We also need an administration action plan to alleviate
the plight of the Iraqi civilian population under UN sanctions.
We should continue to remind the Administration
and the U.S. public of the relevance of the UN role in combating
This is a time of high emotions with much pressure
for unity and uniformity. It entails a risk here that the American
public and the Congress may be stampeded into unwise actions.
We should insist that all decisions on terrorism be approached
with reflection and best judgment. All U.S. citizens should insist
on retaining the right to draw their own conclusions and to use
their own judgment.
This point is especially applicable to proposals
to limit political freedoms inside the U.S. and for military action