Terrorism: Searching for Answers
Why would anyone carry out such a horrible crime as the terrorist
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? How should the
United States respond? What would be the likely results of a military
attack on Afghanistan?
Searching for answers to these and other questions, more than 200
students, faculty, and staff gathered in Gamble Auditorium on September
19 for "After September 11: The Hard Questions," a teach-in
sponsored by the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Office of
the Dean of the College and the Dean of Faculty.
Offering their perspectives were three authorities on the situation:
Nafisa Hoodbhoy, a former journalist with an English-language daily
in Pakistan, now producing programs for WFCR radio; Michael Klare,
the Five College professor of peace and world security studies; and
Sohail Hashmi, Alumnae Foundation Chair in the Social Sciences and
an associate professor of international relations at MHC. Moderating
the discussion was Kavita Khory, associate professor of politics at
Taking pains to condemn the terrorists' actions, the panelists explored
the events that led up to those acts, and generally agreed that the
United States would have nothing to gain by waging war in Afghanistan.
The nation seems to be moving ahead with a military response, Klare
said. "The machine has been set in motion," he said, warning
that a military campaign would be "a disastrous course of action
that will lead to certain deaths [in the Muslim world] and stir up
more hatred of us." A better alternative, he argued, would be
pursuing and prosecuting Osama bin Laden and his accomplices as criminals
in an international court.
Klare said the seeds of the current conflict were sown in 1945, when
the United States pledged to protect the royal family of Saudi Arabia
against external and internal threats in exchange for unfettered access
to Saudi oil. That pledge has led to United States-supported suppression
of free speech in Saudi Arabia, as well as a growing military presence
that has fanned opposition among Muslims angered by the perceived
defilement of Mecca and other holy places.
"There is absolutely no sense in bombing Afghanistan, because
this is a country that is already in the Stone Age. It has nothing,"
Hoodbhoy said. Military action, she said, would likely push Muslim
moderates into the camp of the hard-line fundamentalists, and "cause
more sympathy for a regime which people are sick of and would like
to be rid of."
Hashmi said that if the terrorists are carrying out a holy war, they
probably see it as a defensive action against the expansion of the
Wests power and influence in the Middle East. Others, including
many non-Muslims, share their views, he said, but split with the terrorists
over the method of addressing those concerns. Although the Quran
teaches that killing one innocent person is like killing all humanity,
Hashmi said, the hard-liners have taken the position that no one in
the United States is innocent in this strugglea justification
for mass murder.
The United States, he said, should not respond in kind. "The
idea of an endless series of events that could be the source of grievance
is one that would perpetuate the cycle of attack and counterattack,"
The teach-in was one in a series of events by which the College is responding to the attacks of September 11. On October 17, at 7:30 pm in Hooker Auditorium, Michael Ignatieff, director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, will speak on the relation between human rights and terrorism.