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Howard's End: The Schism At The Heart Of War

The US administration is so concerned with the direction the war on terrorism is taking, that it is summoning Hollywood showbiz and media moguls to an urgent meeting on Sunday morning to aid its fight against terrorism. But it's not what we in the West think this war is all about, it's what a small percentage of the1.2 billion followers of Islam think it's about, and therein lies the solution. Maree Howard writes.

Politicians, media and commentators around the world say this is not a war between Christianity and Islam. Maybe not - in our eyes.

But what does the other side, who have shown a desire to singly strike at Western targets to overcome their injustices think about that?

It's clear that whatever we say the war on terrorism is all about, the other side disagrees. That is the problem.

So both sides enter a war, the reasons for which is as old as history itself. Lack of communication, ignorance, intolerance and poverty and power.

Go back just 786 years to the dispute between King John, the Catholic Church and the Barons of England, which resulted in that great human rights agreement the Magna Carta, and compare that dispute with the scenario and reasons surrounding this war - the reasons are essentially the same.

The only real difference today, is the choice of weapons and the method of delivery. But that's a technical issue, not the core human rights issue which exists in both disputes.

So, could we solve this problem and where do we start to do that because no-one on both sides, I suggest, wants to be a potential participant and a potential target?

Firstly, let's set the parameters. The West says it's not a war between Christianity and Islam but the other side strongly disagrees. So there is no common ground over the essential issue in dispute. Let's firstly find some common ground on that point by appointing an international fair, impartial and independent mediator.

Sure, it has become a war of propaganda, and likely to become more so, with George Bush visiting mosques, dropping food and leaflets and providing new funding to international relief groups. He continues to lobby the international community for support and he has UN resolution 1368 authorising military action.

On the other hand, Osama bin Laden is using the mass media to gain sympathy and has appealed on TV for jihad. The Taleban have taken journalists to hospitals and bombsites to show injury, death and destruction said to be caused by American bombs.

But all this stuff is pretty basic war propaganda - it does not solve the issues in dispute. That will take a dramatic change in thinking.

All Government's involved have varied interests but will become repelled by death and injury, frustrated by slow progress or may want to push their own political interests.

One NZ media commentator this morning says "This is a war we have been waging for decades and will wage for decades more. It is no less than a struggle against the greedy and ruthless side of human nature and against brutal social outcasts, the Vandals of our age."

Indeed we have, so wouldn't you think "we" might have tried to find a remedy for the perceived injustices without resorting to war and bombing innocents.

Moreover, "the greedy and ruthless side of human nature" comes from both sides - or at least is perceived to be by both sides. What is the solution to that - yet more death and destruction?

There is common ground, I believe. It's just that unless "we" in the West promote it, just a small percentage of the more radical elements of the 1.2 billion followers of Islam will continue to fight against what they see as injustices.

How many independent and lone fighters with weapons, but operating under one group, can "we" defeat - a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, a million?

Is that what we want? - is that what they want? I don't believe so.

Let's firstly find the common ground and let all politicians take the lead to truly save the world from terrorism - and injustice.


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