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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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April 22, 2004

Terrorism and Democracy

I recently spent an hour in a group interview with the ambassador of Egypt, Nabil Fahmy. He made an interesting point about terrorism. It is asserted widely that terrorism is caused by a lack of democracy-in Palestine, for example. But we have had terrorism in the United States-by the Unabomber, by Timothy McVeigh, by whomever put the anthrax in the envelopes.

The Germans had the Bader-Meinhof gang, and the Japanese had the poison-gas folks in the subway. Democracy does not inoculate you against spawning terrorists-though one might reply that all of the terrorists he mentioned were marginal to the societies concerned, and that in Palestine, anyway, the terrorists are more than just marginal. Still, when one links terrorism directly to a lack of democracy-as the neoconservatives do-it puts terror into a perspective that is not accurate.

The neocons also like to say that America is targeted because the terrorists hate democracy. But Fahmy says, “Why do the terrorists target you, rather than Italy or Great Britain?” There are lots of democracies. We are not targeted mainly because of who we are. It is much more about what we do.

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at April 22, 2004 02:09 PM



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