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March 19, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-19

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 19, 2004


opinion. michigandaily.com

SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of
the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

We need to keep
them out of here."
- J C. Fugate, the commissioner of Rhea
County, which is asking the state of
Tennessee to pass a law that will permit
the county to charge homosexuals
with crimes against nature,
as reported yesterday by CNN.



Can Z 9ef you anythin


'This is not Europe's 9/11'


don't know Ali al-
IM essery. The first
time I ever heard of
him was on Monday, in a
New York Times article on
the Madrid bombings. Yet
I feel very connected to
him. What could a 32-
year-old Moroccan immi-
grant and I possibly have
in common? Well, fear, for one thing.
Fear is "why, when Ali al-Messery stood
before 1,000 worshippers at the M-30
mosque in central Madrid (last) Friday and
prayed - for the victims of the terrorist
attack, for the stability of Spain, for peace in
the world - he also beseeched God for
something else. 'The people who did this are
ignoramuses who have stones for hearts,' he
said. 'Please God, please God, let it not be
Muslims!' "
Wow, talk about dej& vu, and how that same
prayer was murmured by so many lips in my
community on Sept. 11. Well, Ali, welcome to
the club, it looks like you're not going to get
your wish. Of course, this wasn't exactly your
Sept 11. or anything. Allow me to explain.
I went to a media workshop last week at
which someone asked, what is it that gives cer-
tain stories so much attention in the news?
Speculation plays a big factor in determining
the life cycle of a story, the speaker answered.
If someone kills his wife and then turns him-
self in, there's nothing left to keep the tale
alive. But an event like the Madrid bombings
- that's pure gold, because who isn't interest-
ed in such a juicy whodunit mystery? I admit, I
certainly am, partly out of curiosity but more
so to quell the dread that's been building inside
of me since the whole tragedy happened.
On Wednesday, Daily columnist Ari Paul
blasted the American media for its one-sided$
coverage of the bombings. I respectfully dis-
agree with his assessment. From the very get-

go, The New York Times, The Washington
Post and The Associated Press pointed out that
Spanish officials initially suspected ETA, a
Basque group that has historically used terror
to fight for its independence. So I wouldn't
say last Thursday was a repeat of the mess we
now refer to as the Oklahoma City bombings.
Still, that doesn't mean we deserve to pat our-
selves on the back for not being biased.
Paul was right when he said the Spanish
Socialist Party's rise to power is what has the
United States in such a tizzy. It's no secret
that Spain's incoming prime minister, Jose
Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, plans on pulling
his country's troops out of Iraq. In an op-ed
to the Times, Adjunct Anthropology Prof.
Scott Atran said that's what "the jihadists"
want - for America to "try to go it alone."
But that's not how it needs to go down, he
added. Atran favors fighting "Islamic terror"
(how did this guy get on our campus?)
through "netwar," a "global spider web" of
international coalitions that mimic "the
swarming tactics of the enemy" as a way to
defeat him. Or it, or them, or whatever.
The problem with netwar, which Atran
conceded to when I e-mailed him, is that
many European countries simply don't define
the global terrorism dilemma the same way
our policymakers do.
"We have always had a different definition
of terrorism, in that we never call it a "war" on
terrorism. We call it the fight or battle against
terrorism, and we do think the distinction makes
a difference," an anonymous European official
in Washington told the Christian Science Moni-
tor Wednesday. "Madrid will certainly lead to a
more dynamic look at counterterrorism opera-
tions and cooperation, but terrorism in Europe is
not a new phenomenon, so this will not sudden-
ly be seen as a war," the official added. "This is
not Europe's 9/11."
The man has a point. For us, Sept. 11 repre-
sented the loss of our sense of security; it made

us feel vulnerable with a magnitude that proba-
bly hadn't been felt since Pearl Harbor. But for
Europe, with its Irish Republican Army and
ETA and a million other resistance groups,
home-base attacks are nothing new.
And what is it that Zapatero is saying?
That it's possible to be anti-terrorism AND
anti-war? Incredible. That definitely makes me
feel a little better. Be it ETA or al Qaida, Spain
won't overreact and follow the tried-and-true
path of creating and demonizing an enemy for
all to hate. That's the plan in theory, at least. In
practice, things get a bit trickier.
Take Iraq, for example, a bandwagon that
Spain and many other countries are still will-
ing to jump on, as long as the United Nations
steps in and fixes the mess we made. While
"terrorist networks cannot be defeated unless
they are destroyed, hostile states can be
defeated without being destroyed," Atran said
in his e-mail. But is it possible to fight terror-
ism in nations without painting all resistance
in that area with a broad brush? In Iraq, any-
one that rebels against American troops
becomes an enemy, even if that person had
initially been one of those poor oppressed
folks we promised to fight for, not against.
What's really going to happen in the after-
math of the Spain bombings? Does discover-
ing the culprit change our country's stance on
terrorism or our commitment to "the war on
terror?" I fear not. As pleased as I was to see
our media hesitate to point fingers at al
Qaida, I know our discourse on the subject is
not even close to sophisticated. Not if we
keep referring to this battle as one against
"jihadists" bent on spreading "Islamic terror,"
as Atran so eloquently puts it in his op-ed.
Back to poor Ali - I feel your pain,
homeboy. Let's just hope your country han-
dles this tragedy better than mine.



Khatri can be reached at

You're safe now - and by you I mean me

Boy oh boy, do I
wish the rest of
the world could
live where Bush lives. A
year ago to this day, I
was deeply absorbed
into my own domino
theories about the Iraq
war and what it would
entail. I had fantastical
visions that involved a rainfall of nuclear and
chemical weapons, global warfare, Armaged-
don and me not making it to 25.
I still haven't made it to 25, but thankful-
ly Bush was wrong and Iraq turned out to be
a paper tiger. Now bestowed with the always
favored 20-20 hindsight vision, a bit of
reflection on the past year in anticipation of
the future year wouldn't be the worst idea.
But let us start in the present. During a rally
at the Fort Campbell, Ky. military base yes-
terday, Bush ignored the world's realities as
he issued a sequence of morale-boosting
non sequiturs to veterans returned from Iraq.
While the soldiers deserve all the credit
imaginable for doing what I would never do,
they also deserve more than empty words
and blind direction.
By telling the troops "their valor and sacri-
fice had made the Middle East, and the world
safer," I wonder exactly what Middle East and
world Bush is talking about. Because if Iraq is
still part of the Middle East and Spain is still
part of the world, then things aren't really

safer. Ask any of the victims of the recent
hotel explosion, the dead missionaries, a mur-
dered reporter or the Spanish train passengers.
In fact, with so many resources diverted to the
maintenance of Iraq it is impossible to give
full attention to global terrorism.
He also told the troops that they had "deliv-
ered justice to many terrorists and you're keep-
ing the rest of them on the run." They're running
alright, but only after executing their last attack.
Although tensions fluctuate here at
home, I must say that in America we are
safer than a year ago for no other reason
than the fact that it's easier to direct
attacks elsewhere: By drawing others into
our singular mission, we opened the door
for a March 11 as well as attacks on other
foreign nations. These attacks will quickly
erode whatever international support we
were able to bully from the world and
leave the United States in a more awkward
position than before.
Spain reacted to its personal tragedy with the
prompt ousting of the Bush-assuaging govern-
ment. Other countries won't even need their own
attacks to change course; the Spanish incident
will be enough for other European nations to
realize that they want their governments to be a
more accurate reflection of their beliefs.
Despite the black-and-white color spectrum
of Bush administration's view, gray shades still
exist in this world. The ramifications of the
Spanish reaction will be debated in political dis-
course for generations to come. Was the ousting

of pro-war Prime Minister Aznar's party a sign
that terrorism works? Or did it show that when a
leader drags its populace into a war with 90 per-
cent disapproval that re-election hopes are slim?
Their urge to withdraw from Iraq does create a
bit of dilemma for the mission's stability.
By creating such a divisively polarizing
issue, with spurious evidence at its core, the
United States has attracted only fair-weather
friends. I cannot fault them for electing a
government that represents their beliefs when
the 2000 election showed that Americans
can't even do that. However, Spain's recent
election is being spun by many into an effort
to skirt away from the responsibility of global
terror. No victim of terrorism can have such
naive hopes. But the "either you're with us or
against us mentality" transforms a difficult
and personal election for Spain into nothing
more than an American issue.
A year after the date of invasion and utter
failure of Bush's championed cause to find any
weapons, the president has admitted no fault nor
gained any grasp of reality. Only recently, in ref-
erence to a statement by John Kerry, Bush was
unbelievably quoted as saying, "If you're going
to make an accusation in the course of a presi-
dential campaign, you've got to back it up with
facts." But what was left out was, "If you're me,
you can straight make shit up."
Happy anniversary.
Rahim can be reached at




Jewish voters are not
ignorant, will vote to
support Israel in 2004
In Jason Z. Pesick's recent column (Jewish
Voting Patterns: Tradition!, 03/18/04), he not
only fails to take a cross-section of opinion from
the 6,000 members of the campus Jewish com-
munity, but also makes uninformed and mis-

another, thankfully futile, attempt to destroy
the Jews, Arab countries neighboring Israel
attacked her the day after her independence
to destroy her existence. They did the same in
1956, 1967, 1969 and 1973. In each of
Israel's defensive wars, it prevailed and the
safety of the Jewish homeland was preserved.
In each of these wars, the United States stood
by Israel and supported it.
The Israeli-Palestinian situation today is
similar, although instead of Jordanian tanks and
Egyptian fighter jets, the Israelis are defending

for thousands of years. Regardless of whether
American Jews have a "sophisticated under-
standing" of the conflict, they will vote for
the candidate who displays the most promise
for perpetuating the solid U.S.-Israel relation-
ship. This will be an important issue, but will
not be the deciding factor for most because
American Jews are Americans and care just
as much about the economy and education as
they do their religious ties to a Jewish home-
land in Israel. Will American Jews vote for
Bush or Kerry? Will Bush carry the 45 per-
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