- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2001

Let's call a terrorist a terrorist

In referring to the latest terrorist attack by Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) in Vitoria, Spain, The Washington Times referred to the ETA as a "Basque separatist group," when in actuality there is no term more appropriate than "terrorist" ("Suspected ETA bomb destroys courthouse," World Scene, Oct. 2).
As I am sure you are aware, the ETA is recognized as a terrorist organization by the State Department.
Calling the ETA a "Basque separatist group" is akin to calling al Qaeda an "Islamist group based in Afghanistan." What defines both the ETA and al Qaeda is the use of violence and terror, which is why they merit the name "terrorist."
It is important to recognize that they are not pursued for the political and religious ideas they claim to defend but for these violent acts.
In this fight against the scourge of terrorism, we can all contribute simply by calling things by their true name and by calling terrorists what they are.

Ambassador of Spain to the United States
Embassy of Spain

Target weapons of mass destruction channels in Russia

I read the reports, "Bin Laden terror group tries to acquire chemical arms" and "Terrorists could use mass-destruction arms," with much interest (Sept. 26 and Sept. 27).
Russia-based criminal groups doubtless play a role in Osama bin Laden's strategy of acquiring ingredients for atomic weapons and other weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) wares. Unlike rogue states, terrorists cannot leverage networks of official contacts to gain access to Russian nuclear suppliers; hence, they would very likely rely on sympathetic underground connections to broker illegal nuclear deals.
Yet, not just any Russian mafia organization would be willing to sell nuclear weapons components to bin Laden and his ilk. The most likely intermediaries are Chechen and other Islamic groups, which have ideological affinities to terrorists as well as (in the case of the Chechens) an established reputation for trafficking in nuclear and dual-use materials.
Conventional Russian crime syndicates mostly have shied away from this dangerous business and are a lesser source of proliferation danger.
Indeed, the more anti-Islamic factions of the Russian criminal community could conceivably play a positive role in a well-designed intelligence operation to target bin Laden's WMD procurement channels inside Russia.


The letter writer consults on international security, narcotics and proliferation issues.

Scapegoating Israel again

In his Oct. 3 letter to the editor, "Support for Israel escalates hostility toward U.S.," Faisal Ahmad attempts to justify an act of barbaric terrorism against America by blaming our support for Israel.
He uses the usual deceptive code words of some Arab quarters "violent suppression of the Palestinian people" and "slain Palestinian children" to justify his absurd charge. The scapegoating of Israel belies the facts and obscures the nature of Islamic fundamentalism.
As Daniel Finkelstein writes in an opinion piece for the London Times, "What these extremists hate about Israel is not its appropriation of a tiny sliver of Arab land, it is the siting of a Western style, non-Islamic democracy in the Middle East."
The Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Akhbar put it this way: "The conflict that we call the Arab-Israeli conflict is, in truth, an Arab conflict with Western, and particularly American, colonialism."
Master terrorist Osama bin Laden has identified the Western presence in the Arabian peninsula as insulting to Islam and a justification for a holy war against America.
Despite Mr. Ahmad's claims, if Israel did not exist, there would still be terrorism because America is the engine of democracy and freedom in the world. If Islamic fundamentalism is to succeed in Islamizing nation after nation, it must bring down America.
Terrorism, which is prohibited in some intellectual Islamic quarters, is a tool used to try to achieve their warped goals. Scapegoating is another.


Thinking outside the Cold War box

I recently read Martin Sieff's review of my book "Acheson and Empire: The British Accent in American Foreign Policy" (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2001) ("Dean Acheson pro and con," Op-Ed, Sept. 4).
Of course, Mr. Sieff is entitled to his opinion about whether or not my book is, in his words, "twaddle." My book does have a new and provocative thesis and certainly was successful in provoking Mr. Sieff.
In the book, I try to encourage people to "think outside the box" that the Cold War placed (and in many ways still places) on free inquiry. Clearly, I was less than successful with Mr. Sieff, who responded with traditional Cold War rhetoric. He recoiled against my thesis that Dean Acheson brought to his work as secretary of state an Ulster Protestant ideology that was rooted in a romantic view of European and particularly British imperialism, an approach that was not always in America's interest.
It is interesting and inconsistent that while Mr. Sieff finds the argument initially stimulating, he ultimately rejects the implications.
If we are to come to a more clear understanding of Achesonian diplomacy, we must accept the implications of Mr. Acheson's world view and not reject the argument when the evidence becomes unpleasant and draws our thinking down a new path.
Given the recent terrorist attacks, it is even more important that we understand the heritage of American involvement in the Middle East that much of my book details.

Assistant professor
Raymond Walters College
University of Cincinnati

Clinton's legacy defined

Former President Bill Clinton is apparently upset that his presidency had no "defining moment" ("Inside Politics," Oct. 1). In truth, however, he ignored the moments that were potentially defining.
Our current problems began on Mr. Clinton's watch. The World Trade Center was bombed during his presidency. Embassies were attacked, as was the USS Cole. He neither acted in a responsible manner nor attempted to garner public support for an appropriate response.
For that reason, his presidency will be "defined" by disbarment, impeachment, Monica Lewinsky and, oh, yes, how the U.S. economy rolled along despite it all.


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