U.S.-ASIA PACIFIC VOICES ON COMBATING TERRORISM IN 2003

Numerous speakers and program participants at the East-West Center have offered different perspectives on terrorism and global violence, how it has impacted their own countries, and how the world might best move forward in 2003. Below is a summary of some of those perspectives.

Included in this report:

1. Bambang Harymurti, editor-in-chief of Tempo, a leading Indonesian weekly newsmagazine: Is Indonesia The Next Afghanistan?

2. Haynes Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, best-selling author, TV commentator, and Knight Chair in Journalism at the University of Maryland: America And The Crisis Of Change

3. Walter Nalangu, manager of news and current affairs at the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Company and a Fall 2002 Jefferson Fellow: Violence Targets Media

4. Participants of "Changing Faces: Envisioning Women's Leadership in Asia, the Pacific and the United States": Women Must Lead In Fighting Terrorism

5. Bina Sharif, Pakistani-American playwright: Democracy In Islam, Afghan Woman

6. U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Col. Paul Maubert, who oversaw the final days of the U.S. Pacific Command's Support Group East Timor: Democracy Will Succeed In East Timor

7. Jayantha Dhanapala, U.N. Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs: U.N. Resolution On Iraq Shows U.N. Has Become Indispensable

8. Richard W. Baker, adjunct senior fellow at the East-West Center and former U.S. diplomat: Why Bush Is Determined To Get Rid Of Saddam Hussein -- And Why Nobody Has Been Able To Talk Him Out Of It (For Baker's full piece, see http://www.eastwestcenter.org/events-en-detail.asp?news_ID=138

1. IS INDONESIA THE NEXT AFGHANISTAN?

BAMBANG HARYMURTI, editor-in-chief of Tempo, a leading Indonesian weekly newsmagazine that was twice banned under the Soeharto regime, and speaker at the Jefferson Fellowship 35th Anniversary Conference:

"Peacekeeping is better than war. When you fight terrorism, you're on a slippery road. You become a terrorist. The best Green Beret can't differentiate between a good Muslim and a bad one. Each mistake can create 10 new guerrillas.

The two largest Muslim groups in Indonesia want secularism. "It makes more sense for the United States to invest in making Indonesia a democracy. Indonesia can become the largest democratic Muslim nation in the world. It's a great experiment. Imagine the impact on Pakistan" and other Muslim nations.

"Americans like everything instantaneous. We can't have instant democracy. Our struggle is to be successful."

2. AMERICA AND THE CRISIS OF CHANGE

HAYNES JOHNSON, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, best-selling author, TV commentator and Knight Chair in Journalism at the University of Maryland, who spoke as the 2002 George Chaplin Fellow in Distinguished Journalism:

Events since Sept. 11, 2001, have brought the United States and the world to "a new era, unlike anything Americans or the world have faced before.

"This is a hinge moment...One path may take you somewhere you don't want to be. In all of U.S. history, this is more complicated, more difficult. It requires unity.

"If this is war against terrorism, how do I get involved, make a commitment? I've heard 'Don't worry about it, keep flying. If you see terrorism, call 911.' I keep waiting for the president to get me engaged.

"We said we were going to become energy independent of Middle East oil. We can make that a national cause.

"The test for Americans is to put aside our arrogance, take pride in our accomplishments, and remember we can do better. I believe in public service. Americans who were inattentive, disengaged, in one blinding moment saw we were no longer invulnerable, saw what public service really means...If we step back and reflect on that, we might have a political opportunity, a call to something greater. Not a call to war but to peace and understanding.

"Nobody can tell where we're going, but we know we're all bound together."

3. VIOLENCE TARGETS MEDIA

WALTER NALANGU, manager of news and current affairs at the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Company and a Fall 2002 Jefferson Fellow:

The violence of recent years in the Pacific island nation of the Solomon Islands has also targeted the media. "Militants with high-powered weapons come into newsrooms pointing guns at the reporters. We don't rely on police so much in the last few years. Police neutrality has been compromised. We need advice on how we can deal with this."

4. WOMEN MUST LEAD IN FIGHTING TERRORISM

Participants of the East-West Center's "Changing Faces: Envisioning Women's Leadership in Asia, the Pacific and the United States":

ANANYA CHATTERJEE, chief producer for news and current affairs at TARA Bangla television station in Calcutta, India:

"Violence affects women and children the most. We must extend the traditional role of women from being peacekeepers in the house. Peace is not just about compromise. Silence is not peace or justice. At home there is much silence. We must talk about it.

"No one is born a terrorist. It springs from poverty and state betrayal. The people of Kashmir were betrayed, there are no two ways about it.

"State-sponsored violence, I call terrorism. There was state violence in Gujarat." (The state government was believed to be involved in violence against Muslims in Gujarat, India, in 2002.) "There was no reason to do it, just to shift attention away from the government's failure. Women realized what was happening. They saw through the state agenda. They formed women's groups. We need to hold hands."

MEERA SUNDARARAJAN, chief executive office of Tamilnadu State Non-Governmental Organizations and Volunteer Resource Center, Tamilnadu, India:

In Tamilnadu, the main terrorism focus has been on Sri Lanka, where women have been recruited by the Tamil Tiger rebels. India's Rajiv Ghandi was assassinated by a woman Tamil Tiger who had strapped explosives to her body. These women must "prove themselves equal to men. There is a whole culture of violence."

That same culture of violence has developed in Kashmir and other parts of India. "Women police are more violent. Men don't accept their female colleagues. To get themselves accepted they must be as violent as men. Women leaders can be just as bad. We need gender-sensitized leaders."

In bringing up the status of women, "we've reached out to other women, to Muslim women. Women from all religions feel the struggle."

BHAWANI RANA, president of SAATHI Mid-west Nepal, a non-governmental organization working to eliminate violence against women and children; regional co-chair of Women Entrepreneurs Association Nepal; and a director of Nepal's Hotel Sneha:

Young women have been caught up in the fighting between the government and Maoist forces. "Young women are forced to join the Maoist movement. They have been gang-raped. We try to rehabilitate these women. I've spoken to Maoist leaders. The Maoists want to have dialogue with women's groups. When women organize peace rallies, they are not anti-government or anti-Maoist.

"The government has to take steps to alleviate poverty and unemployment. We're trying to give women new skills and mediate between women and the market."

SIENNA MAUREEN A. HILARIO, chief of staff to Gov. Josefina M. Dela Cruz, Bulacan Province, Philippines:

War in the Southern Philippines has victimized many women and children. "Many communities are really scared. Many women in government are really trying to say a lot of things. A woman is more sincere. You can trust her. You are stronger if you are also a mother who has to worry about her family.

"We have to do this all together. We need not be afraid."

5. AFGHAN WOMAN, DEMOCRACY IN ISLAM

BINA SHARIF, a Pakistani-American playwright who read excerpts from her plays "Afghan Woman" and "Democracy in Islam" at the East-West Center:

In "Afghan Woman" Sharif performs in a burqa, revealing the heartbreak Afghan women have experienced under the Soviets, the Northern Alliance, the Taliban and the U.S. bombing. "I'm silent. My silence is silent," the covered woman says in the play. "How come it took you so long to see me?"

Sharif, who never wore a veil growing up in Pakistan, said many women in Afghanistan choose to continue wearing the burqa, and more women in some parts of Pakistan are also choosing to now cover themselves. What is most important is "the freedom of choice."

Non-Muslims "do little crash courses and think they know it all" about Islam. But it takes much more time to understand the complexities and differences among Muslims today. She hopes her plays will encourage people to take the time to better understand them, thereby lessening harsh attitudes toward Muslims. Sharif is continually asked to explain events on Sept. 11, 2001, "like I am to be blamed."

6. DEMOCRACY WILL SUCCEED IN EAST TIMOR

COL. PAUL MAUBERT, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, who oversaw the final days of the U.S. Pacific Command's Support Group East Timor in December, spoke at a meeting of East Timor students studying at the East-West Center and Hawaii reservists who took part in humanitarian relief efforts in East Timor:

"No revolution is short, easy or without trouble. Getting to a free and democratic government is a process, and East Timor is moving there. I am not worried more than normal about its future. There is no reason to retreat.

"There has been a remarkable establishment of peace and order. I am quite confident the (East Timorese) infantry battalions will get the job done."

Referring to recent violence in Dili, East Timor, "the great majority of people looked at the disturbances and said, 'We've lost so many people, do we really want to return to the destruction of 1999?' The answer was a resounding no."

7. U.N. RESOLUTION ON IRAQ SHOWS U.N. HAS BECOME INDISPENSABLE

Jayantha Dhanapala, U.N. Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs, in a talk before East-West Center alumni in New York:

President Bush's Sept. 12 speech to the U.N. General Assembly and an address by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan the previous day were key steps in the process leading to the unanimous vote by the Security Council for a tough inspections regime in Iraq.

The United Nations has now come to be indispensable. "It's a tribute to the government of the U.S. that it's been persuaded by the international community to go for inspections." The resolution was also a tribute to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who successfully negotiated the compromise agreement with France, Russia and other Security Council members.

"This resolution is not a license to go war." But it does give the inspectors the right to go any place, any time.

The international community has been surprised at the intransigence of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. When the Gulf War ended in 1991, everyone at the United Nations thought all weapons of mass destruction would be eliminated within a year. "The solution has been in the hands of Iraq from the beginning."

(Contributed By East-West Center Alumni William Armbruster in New York)

8. WHY BUSH IS DETERMINED TO GET RID OF SADDAM HUSSEIN -- AND WHY NOBODY HAS BEEN ABLE TO TALK HIM OUT OF IT

RICHARD W. BAKER, adjunct senior fellow at the East-West Center and former U.S. diplomat: (For Baker's full piece, see http://www.eastwestcenter.org/events-en-detail.asp?news_ID=138

President Bush and his team are clearly determined to remove Saddam Hussein, despite substantial resistance in the international community and growing public doubt at home and abroad. They are haunted by the specter of Sept. 11 and are determined to do everything they can to avoid any recurrence on their watch.

They see Saddam Hussein in the same category with Osama bin Laden, willing to do anything to inflict damage on his enemies and especially the United States. And they calculate that it is only a matter of time before Saddam has deliverable weapons of mass destruction, at which point neither deterrence nor attack may be able to avert a catastrophe.

Finally, the Bush team is confident that U.S. military might is capable of prevailing over Iraq's forces quickly and at an acceptable cost. All of this propels the firm conviction that the only sure course to deal with the threat posed by Saddam is to take the initiative to depose him, and to do so as soon as possible.

Against these considerations, most of the arguments adduced by critics and skeptics fall on essentially deaf ears. These include: Saddam is not that dangerous; the inspections process and/or a traditional deterrence strategy will be sufficient; an invasion would lead to another Vietnam; and even a rapid victory would leave an insoluble and open-ended occupation quagmire. One criticism that did register was opposition to U.S. unilateralism, but this has been parried (for the moment) through Colin Powell's skillful diplomacy in the United Nations.

The unavoidable negatives of the strategy remain the human and financial costs. The president clearly accepts a level of casualties as the inevitable price of security. But a more imponderable cost is "collateral damage" –- not just among Iraqi civilians but also possibly numerous victims of violent reactions across the Muslim world. If this carnage is significant, it could poison U.S. relations more broadly and even further complicate other long-standing problems, including the Arab-Israeli conflict.

These prospects underline the truly grave nature of the decision that the Bush administration will make sometime early in 2003. But those who oppose the Bush administration's course will have to come up with clear alternatives and very persuasive arguments in order to convince the administration that restraint does not entail the greater danger.

(Richard Baker can be reached at 808-944-7371 or bakerr@EastWestCenter.org

The East-West Wire is a news service provided by the East-West Center in Honolulu. Any or all of this report may be used with attribution to the East-West Center or to the person quoted.

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For a directory to all East-West Wire reports, see http://www.eastwestcenter.org/events-en.asp 

For daily news on the Pacific Islands, see http://pidp.eastwestcenter.org/pireport/text.htm 

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