On Point: McDonalds: the Best Weapon Against Terrorism

by Austin Bay
December 11, 2002

In a recent column for The Washington Post, Jordan's KingAbdullah essayed Islam's core ideals, which he identified as compassion,goodwill and respect for others.

His plea for compassion and respect referenced one of the threeassassinations that deeply scar the Israeli-Palestinian turmoil, the 1951murder of his great-grandfather, Abdullah I -- the two other high-impactmurders being those of Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Itzhak Rabin. KingAbdullah wrote: "... long before so-called Islamic terrorists beganattacking the West, they were targeting fellow Muslims. The goal was tosilence opposition and obliterate the Islam of peace and dialogue."

Extremists who rejected respect and dialogue believed Abdullah Iwould make peace with Israel. The murder of Rabin by an Israeli religiousfanatic was a vicious mirror of this evil.

State terror -- statecraft by fear -- rules in far too manycorners of this planet, Iraq and North Korea as patent examples. The tool offear, as the assassinations in comparatively open states like Jordan andIsrael illustrate, also thwarts moderation. Moderates literally live underthe gun, fearing reprisal and death.

Poverty does not create terrorists -- that's a falsehood and asmear. However, theft of wealth and development denied inevitably seedresentment, the spark terror's masters know how to stoke. Corruption andstolen opportunity stalk the streets and hard corners where terroristsrecruit.

The rule of law eventually punishes and minimizes corruption andtheft, which is one reason democracy is a strategic weapon againstterrorism. The democratic rule of law ultimately frees a public frommurderous extremists. Instead of calling the shots, the thugs land in jail.It's not utopia, but it's justice.

A month ago, I wrote a column that noted the attack on the WorldTrade Center was an attack on the world that created the United Nations.Somewhere even the dictators and autocrats who send ambassadors to dialoguewith ambassadors from free states know that to be true. The UN is one resultof steady, increasing, inexorable globalization -- the trend that putsMcDonalds in Moscow, that puts Colombian flowers on the altar of my churchin Texas, that brings Hong Kong's South China Post to the Internet, thatbrings the BBC to Zimbabwe, that makes Taliban shenanigans in Afghanistanpotent security matters in Manhattan.

Osama bin Laden rejects globalization. Sure, he digs theInternet and loves high-tech weapons, but the "open world" globalizationoffers threatens extremist zealots. Bin Laden and other rejectionists longfor "closed worlds" -- closed societies where their sole interpretation ofthe Koran, of Marx, of the gospel of John, of Shona or of Serb tribaltradition utterly dominates.

Religious absolutists, ethnic zealots and ultra-nationalistsreject "the new rules" of cooperation and compromise globalizationentails -- these organized forms of goodwill and respect, to use KingAbdullah's words.

Bin Laden's hatred for globalization explains in part whyleft-wing "anti-globalists" and professorial cranks wedged in academia findoddball common cause with his Islamic imperialism. Their utopias areperfections that do not allow compromise, much less McDonalds.

Sept. 11, then, is another battle between "open-connectedsystems," the type which link globally, and "closed-isolated systems."

And it's why globalization is a strategic means for defeatingthe bin Ladens present and future.

To a large degree, it's a strategy that pushes Washington morethan Washington initiates, but furthering the process of globalizationaround the world, in terms of free communications, free trade and democraticpolitical structures. In other words, giving people the freedom to chooseand protecting their right to do it must be part of America's War on Terror.

Free trade and free economies -- central components ofglobalization -- are the means of relieving mass endemic poverty. Terroristsand dictators are no longer the "best bad choice" of the desperate.

Extending globalization into the hard corners, the Somalias andColombias, thus becomes a grand strategy for improving 21st centurysecurity. And it's another reason the departments of Treasury, Justice andCommerce, the U.S. Agency for International Development and, for thatmatter, McDonalds and the BBC, are key to truly defeating global terrorism.

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To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


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