Thunder Bay, Ontario - Tuesday, September 17, 2002 - by: Richard P. Neumann




Jean Chretien's recent musings regarding the origins of terrorism have generated much interest in this country. I do not believe that the Prime Minister intended to lay responsibility for the terror attacks in the United States on either the Americans themselves, or the actions of the democratic west. The timing of his comments may have been questionable, but the need to have an informed debate over terrorism is certainly paramount.




There is a train of thought amongst a segment of the population that believes terror originates in poverty, and that the west, if not directly responsible for it, is at the very least complicit in the poverty of the third world. That would be a simplistic view. Although the world's richest nations could certainly be doing more in providing economic assistance to emerging nations, particularly through fair and, yes, free trade and the promotion of democratic ideals, it is also true that the gap between rich and poor has been decreasing over time, not the opposite as many in the anti-globalization effort would have us believe. Indeed, the vast majority of the events which have defined the rich and poor on this planet are hundreds of years old.




The roots of terrorism are deep. Terror has never needed poverty to grow and prosper, although it often abuses and perverts poverty for its own dark purposes. But it also twists more positive forces, like nationalism and religion. In point of fact, terror will utilize every ill and every good within society to achieve its sinister goals. Terrorism is not a new phenomena, it has deep and historic roots.




The difference today is that technology has provided terror the ability to export itself far beyond the boarders of the nations in which it is spawned. We must come to realize that the human condition itself will necessarily lead to ideas which necessitate violence to achieve its goals. The challenge is not in preventing these ideas from materializing, but rather it is to create a proactive means by which we can identify and deal forcibly with terror in its infancy, before it gathers the momentum and means to infect a society.

Richard Neumann

  Murphy, Rex, Chretien's comments on Sept. 11, 2002, September 13, View Point, CBC
  PM warns UN world poverty has tragic results, September 16, 2002, CBC


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