Redistribution Creates Peace
Terrorism also has its causes in the exploitation of the Third World. The economy was globalized but politics is localized, says Ernst-Otto Czempiel
[This interview originally published in: die tageszeitung, September 14, 2001 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, www.taz.de. Ernst-Otto Czempiel is a prominent peace researcher in Germany.]
taz: Mr. Czempiel, is "war" the correct term for the attacks on the US?
Ernst-Otto Czempiel: Yes, by the order of magnitude, it was a warlike act. However it was more likely a partisan warfare.
taz: Since the Second World War, massive resistance was associated with partisan warfare. In this attack on the US, there were only a few assassins.
Ernst-Otto Czempiel: This only means that the partisan warfare in its strategy and logistics was transferred to the modern world of globalization. But like the classical partisan warfare, the present terrorism also needs an environment of sympathizers. This arises out of political reasons like the Middle East conflict and the weekly bombardment of Iraq by the US and Britain. Still terrorism also has economic causes like the exploitation of the Third World. While the economy was globalized, politics was localized. Now globalization strikes back on politics.
taz: Many see the perpetrators as mad irrational extremists. On the other hand, you seem to regard the incident as very rational.
Ernst-Otto Czempiel: Yes. With all the mourning over the thousands of dead, all the world admires the logistics. The choice of means and the actual goal - retaliation - were rational. War was declared on the West. The message was: from now on we resist the continuing exploitation. That western politicians fall into the interpretation trap and react to violence with violence instead of with economic reforms and development policy should be feared.
taz: What could be the consequences if the US and Nato decided for a retaliatory strike?
Ernst-Otto Czempiel: This can be seen on a small scale already in the Middle East. Israel's rocket attacks on Palestine accomplish nothing but only provoke new assassinations. This is an atrocious perspective. Something worse than the Third World War threatens: the globalization of terrorism.
taz: Has Nato lost its function?
Ernst-Otto Czempiel: All Nato concepts are out of date or antiquated in any case because they are all based on the identifiable enemy "from the outside" who attacks with a U-boat. With terrorism, the enemy comes from within in that domestic flights suddenly become bombs. The classical ideas of defense are useless.
taz: What do you recommend for politics?
Ernst-Otto Czempiel: Considering the globalized terrorism, security precautions must be improved while avoiding turning the land into a bunker by valuing security higher than freedom. The perception of the former head of the CIA Robert Gates is crucially important that terrorism can only be avoided by removing its causes.
Ernst-Otto Czempiel: The Middle East conflict must be solved in the sense of the 1991 Madrid conference pushed by Bush the father. Remarkably terrorism had practically not existed in the time of the Oslo peace process. In addition Iraq must be accepted again in the community of nations in return for controls and inspection conditions in the area of weapons of mass destruction. Finally, the world must understand that redistribution creates security, not armored personnel carriers or anti-aircraft missiles.
taz: The red-green coalition has cut the development budget.
Ernst-Otto Czempiel: A real mistake. The German government must recognize that only aid to developing countries can create security.