Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

9・11 Revisited
HANABUSA Masamichi / Former Ambassador to Italy

September 9, 2003
Two years have passed since the hateful acts of terrorism that shook America to its core and moved it toward a force-oriented and unilateralist world policy. This writer detests and condemns the cruel oppression by the Saddam Hussein regime against its own people and against its neighbors over the years. I have no sympathy for the fate that has befallen Saddam Hussein and his cohorts. I am not satisfied, however, with what has transpired after 9・11. I offer my assessment of the current status of the American response to the tragedy upon its second anniversary. Readers with more time on hand are kindly invited to read the series of articles this writer has contributed to this column on this topic ("After Victory in Anti-Terrorist Campaign" dated September 24, 2001, "Come On, America, Do the Right Thing" dated April 11, 2002, "Think Twice, America, Before Attacking Iraq: Japanese Views on the US Attack on Iraq" dated August 30, 2002, and "The Sadness of Supporting This War" dated March 20, 2003).

My greatest dissatisfaction is that the Bush Administration, American intellectuals and the American general public seem to have recognized 9・11 as an absolute evil that hit America out of the blue within an international political vacuum. It is absolutely clear that no justification can be found for such terrorism aimed principally at civilians. My point is that we have thus far lacked the intellectual exercise for giving sufficient thought to why such terrorism occurred, and to consider if such acts may be contained by dealing rationally with its root causes. Perhaps it is time to reflect whether we have not been amiss by not doubting the rationale and feasibility of a policy that lumps all terrorist groups around the world in one group and launching a full-scale attack in an effort to destroy them.

Why did 9・11 happen? Was Al Qaeda really intent on achieving solidarity among the world's terrorists? Are the conditions for "containing" terrorism unacceptably enormous or incompatible with the principles of the democratic world? It is incredible that no rational verification has been made about these questions in the US, or in other major countries.

Classifying everything under the sun into either good or evil and attempting to destroy such "evil" is an unreasonable course of action. In the political world where passions entertained by human groups clash against each other, political compromise or postponement of thorny issues by adopting tactical appeasement could better contribute towards the resolution of difficult issues. This is true both in domestic politics and in world politics.

British Prime Minister Chamberlain's appeasement policy towards Hitler at Munich in 1938 was a notorious failure. But the decision could have been reasonable from the viewpoint of earning precious time to unite domestic opinion in preparation for the fight against Hitler. In hindsight, probably the more serious mistake in choosing the right timing to confront Hitler, - considering the enormous cost subsequently paid to destroy Hitler - was the failure to prevent him from reoccupying the Rhineland in 1936. The fundamental flaw in the US policy towards the Iraqi regime was its continued support for Hussein in the Iraq-Iran War, in spite of the Iraqi use of chemical weapons against civilian populace of Iran. These instances teach us that in reality, there are various options for dealing with "evil."

Then comes the question of whether the American option taken to deal with terrorism after 9・11 was appropriate. In light of the present state of affairs in Iraq, it is clear that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq - whose Al Qaeda links are yet to be proven - on the pretext of imminent Iraqi use of weapons of mass-destruction, without endorsement by the United Nations, was an unbelievably gross miscalculation. It was also unwise for the US to adopt the policy of rooting out terrorists around the world. As a result, Russia, Israel, Indonesia, and others have taken advantage of the policy to suppress domestic insurgents by force. Prime Minister Sharon of Israel has relentlessly attacked Palestinian "terrorists" protesting against Israeli settlements, while President Putin of Russia has pursued military suppression of the Chechen insurrection. The Kurdish people are far from the acquisition of self-rule, not to speak of the creation of a Kurdish nation.

In fact, terrorism is proliferating rather than diminishing; dissatisfaction of suffering peoples is running deep.

Sooner or later the US will be obliged to change its approach to Middle East policy. The greatest possible misfortune for the world is for America to go isolationist out of frustration. The US must return to the post-war UN experience, on the basis of which the US is expected to strive to rebuild an effective international mechanism that relies on the consensus of the international community. The window of opportunity for turning the 9・11 misfortune into a blessing for the US, the unrivalled military superpower, is still open.

The author is a former Ambassador to Italy.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

英 正道  / 元駐イタリア大使

2003年 9月 9日







一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟