- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2006

It strikes without warning — the guilty and the innocent. It appears in every country, cruel and devastating, destroying families. Terrorism is faceless. It kills without discretion. The strong, the weak, the rich and poor. It’s the 21st century’s deadliest disease. And there is no cure, no antidote, no immunization.

No one, in any country, is safe. As long as there are people willing to strap bombs around their waist and make videos proclaiming their wish to be surrounded by virgins, the innocent will die: children, women, the old, the infirm. Rarely do terrorists target the guilty. It’s one bomb fits all.

Capture of would-be airline bombers in London strikes home to those of us familiar with their tactics. I am a citizen of Georgia. Russia, my neighbor, has witnessed firsthand the ugly face of terrorism, the widows and orphans. My other neighbors, Turkey and Israel, are deeply familiar with terrorists. And it’s not only young men: Family members — even women and children — are routinely recruited.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States vowed to defend itself, and President Bush made it his first priority. I applaud Israel for its show of force against Hezbollah. The Jewish state has a right to defend itself and has gone not one day without some threat or other. Who won and who lost is beside the point. In the end, everyone loses.

Israel has shielded other countries from aggression. The Israelis have taken the brunt of terrorism. Everyone understands Palestine has the right to establish an independent state. Their leaders are quite capable of doing so. But this issue involves radical factions like Iran who want to wipe Israel off the face of the map.

Where did all this hatred come from? What deep resentment gives life to those who only honor maiming and murder? Yes, it’s murder, coldblooded. Terrorism is not a tactic of war; it is a single act, by a single person, aimed at causing the utmost confusion and terror in the hearts of the innocent.

So many children died in this latest skirmish, that it brought tears to many. This is a barbaric punishment not worthy of any civilized society. Terrorism is the worst form of cowardice. There is no glory, and no God associated with such cynical disregard for human life. Former President Clinton, told Osama bin Laden had been located in a Afghan village, considered taking him out. He was stopped by the fact there were innocent women and children in the vicinity. He refused to give the order. Do these children realize their lives were saved by the decision?

My wife and I just saw “World Trade Center.” It is a sober account of the devastation and human loss that occurred on American soil. But it is not an isolated event. You could make a 24-hour film of all the terrorist acts around the world during the last 10 years and still not have the whole picture.

Here I am, in America, with security tightened and everyone on alert. At Penn Station in New York, the other day, I was happy to hear an announcement warning commuters to be on alert, to report anything unusual. America has lost its innocence.

How brave are the citizens of other countries: Russia, Israel, Turkey, Iraq, all of them potential victims, potential bodies, in this bloody year. Diplomacy has failed.

We need to readdress our thinking and attack those who would attack us. George Bush is serious about battling terrorism, and he should use every means possible to wipe out the threat. That includes monitoring phone calls, searching airline passengers, and seizing expensive perfumes from some outraged American housewives who value their cosmetics more than their lives, and the lives of others. I just want to scream, wake up.

We in America are freshmen on terrorism. We need to graduate, grow up and face the threat as have other countries. Though we cannot change foreign cultures, we can begin to educate children around the world who are in danger of being brainwashed into thinking death will ensure their heavenly afterlife. It is imperative that civilized societies band together in this mission.

We may not be able to save young men and women already enlisted in these organizations, but we can rescue their children and grandchildren by education and literacy. The next generation simply cannot afford to be inflicted with this disease, which like the Plague, is not hereditary.

That is one way to avoid another September 11 and another sobering Hollywood film.

Tsotne Bakuria is a former member of Parliament of the Republic of Georgia. He is writing a book on post-Soviet emerging democracies.

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