The London bombings on 7/7 has lead to a new debate on where we really stand in the efforts to contain and perhaps eventually defeat the forces of global terrorism, as well as the link of this issue with the war in Iraq.
There is no doubt that terrorism has accelerated in recent years, although large-scale attacks have been on a gradually less impressive and less effective scale.
The database on these issues kept by the RAND Corporation – I happen to be on the Board of Trustees – certainly shows this. ”The 5,362 deaths from terrorism worldwide between March 2004 and March 2005 were almost double the total for the same 12-month period before the 2003 U.S. invasion.”
But at the same time it’s very obvious that the entire thing started well before the Iraq war and that the curve was pointing distinctly upwards well before that time.
So, we simply don’t know the answer on that particular issue. But we do know that the curve continues to point upwards and that it does present a very grave challenge for our socities.
It’s not a question of us fighting all Muslims and their religion, as some would extremists on either side woul certainly like. It’s a question of us encouraging those forces inside the Muslim world that want to modernize and reach out to the rest of the world. There are many of those.
The war inside Islam against the forces of intolerance and hatred will certainly not be won easily. It will take a long time. But it can in essence only be won by those inside the Islamic world ready to stand up for true democracy and tolerance.
Our task is to support them. Islam must be made our ally in the fight against terrorism.
If not – everything will be vastly more difficult.