opinionBy Trevor T. Kaita
Kampala — When explosions rocked the Turkish capital, Istanbul two weeks ago killing more than 20 people and injuring an estimated 400 others, the message to US President George W. Bush seemed to be "The war on terror is not about to end we are everywhere".
Bush, who was on a state visit to the UK at the time, responded by telling his British hosts that terrorism must be fought up to the end.
But given the path American has taken it is unlikely that terrorism will be subdued. The US and reluctant allies seem to have taken a conflict management path rather than conflicting transformation, which implies handling the conflict from its roots through a long term strategy of both social and structural change of society. By neglecting the real disease and attending to its symptoms the US, under Bush, has lost direction.
There are underlying issues those who are willing to blow themselves up as they target Western targets. Interestingly, these terrorists as they are mainly regarded in West, are called "martyrs" of the heroic struggle to liberate the Middle East from the imperial designs of America and others.
Conflict normally arises as a result of experienced injustice. Injustice over a period of time can escalate into deep-rooted conflict which if not well handled can explode into unending violence.
America is no angel in the eyes of the world; they created most of the world's bloody dictatorial regimes that murdered millions of its citizens. Saddam Hussein is one such result of this policy but when he turned against the US it was the beginning of the end for him. The price for his removal has been enormous, an estimated one and a half million Iraqis (half of them children) died as a result of economic sanctions, strongly backed by the US, against Iraq.
The number victims of the current war are not known but many civilians have indeed lost lives in this conflict and continue to die.
The supposed weapons of mass destruction, that the Americans claimed the Saddam regime possessed, and which were used to justify this war, are nowhere in sight and the probability that they will be found continues to diminish. Does America have any other justification of occupying a sovereign state in this era?
Democracy is the answer usually given ... democracy, my foot! If the US really wanted true democracy for Iraq then it would not be imposing criminals on the Iraq people as leaders. Ahmed Chalabi, member of the US-backed Iraqi governing council, is a convicted embezzler with a 22-year jail sentence waiting for him in Jordan. The man has practically spent his entire life out of Iraq but in spite of there facts, he remains Washington's favourite for the highest office in Iraq.
Sounds democratic hmmm!
This double standards' trait of America where it deliberately undermines the very gospel it preaches in the face of a silent but observant world is a short-sighted policy.
It is true democratisation is the long-term answer to the terrorism question because you hardly find terrorists in democratic societies.
Unfortunately though, this does not seem to get down so well with some of America's foreign policy framers and as a result the country will continue fighting the old order of undemocratic regimes it helped create for a long time. The question of who wins this battle is still in a balance.
Analysts predict that terrorism may accelerate during the Iraqi occupation and situation reports from Baghdad back up this thinking.
The number of American soldiers dying is almost double those who died during the war proper. And now the killing of Italian troops who were in the country on purely humanitarian grounds in Nasiriyah rules out any possibility of another country to committing troops to the Iraq cause.
Bush must be a worried man; he knows that the more the media dramatised and successful Gulf War, his father George Bush Sr still lost the presidency. The electorate is getting impatient everyday as pictures of their children dying in a foreign land are permanently their sitting rooms.
The political opposition and the critics of this war keep reminding the voters that it should have been avoided in the first place. As this message sinks and more soldiers continue to die in Iraq demonstrations are likely to rock most American cities. Bush could be cornered, forced to withdraw US forces from Iraq and hand over Baghdad to the UN.
What are the likely results of an American withdrawal?
Hell will break loose in Baghdad, as the scramble for power amongst the Sunni, the Kurd and the Shia intensifies. The possibility of mass death is not unlikely in the aftermath.
The key questions that need answering now are?
Why is America hated around the world?
Why do many people believe Bush is a threat to world peace? (60% of the Britons interviewed for an opinion poll ahead of his visit to Britain said the American president is a threat to world peace.) Why are terrorists targeting America or its interests?
Where did their foreign policy go wrong?
It is my submission that the authorities in Washington need to find some answers quickly.
Mr Kaita is a Masters student in Peace & Conflict Management at Makerere University. 077-364472 or firstname.lastname@example.org.