This article appeared in print on page 3 of the May 5, 2011 edition of People’s Daily
The killing of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. forces has attracted the attention of the entire world. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the death of the Al Qaeda leader “a watershed moment” in the global fight against terrorism. The victory is not only for the United States but also for the whole world.
After the 9/11 attacks, the looming threat of international terrorism has become even more apparent. Therefore, the “Global War on Terror” has become the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, and the U.N. member states have all strengthened efforts to combat terrorism.
According to the “Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy” adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, all member states “resolve to consistently, unequivocally and strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes.” It is the joint efforts of all countries that have left Bin Laden and other key terrorist leaders nowhere to hide.
Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks and the spiritual leader of Al Qaeda. His death is not only a major blow to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations but will also serve as a great inspiration to global counter-terrorism forces.
Bin Laden’s death is also a great consolation to 9/11 victims and their families and a major counter-terrorism achievement in U.S. President Barack Obama’s political career. Thanks to the achievement, Obama has quickly regained public support, which made it possible for him to pass the new foreign policy he proposed during the presidential campaign and to lead the United States out of the “Global War on Terror” step by step.
However, although the death of Bin Laden is a historical turning point since 9/11, terrorist organizations will not be dissolved automatically. Al Qaeda was established by Bin Laden and was under his direct management and control during its early period. Al Qaeda had begun the process of “decentralization” and “localization” while Bin Laden was still alive. A new generation of leadership in Al Qaeda is more skillful in using high-tech means and has better organizational capability than Bin Laden.
Many Al Qaeda forces and other terrorist organizations have vowed to retaliate and are moving their core members to take coordinated actions. Despite the death of Bin Laden, the fight against international terrorism still has a long way to go because the soil that breeds terrorism has not been removed.
The world is still distressed by economic and political inequality, hegemony and power politics, ethnic discrimination and ideological opposition, the Cold War mentality as well as unjustified accusations and interference in other countries’ internal affairs. About 1 billion impoverished people are on the verge of death because of starvation and illness. These social injustices, which are entangled with ethnic, religious and ideological issues, have provided terrorists with an ideal environment in which to breed terrorism.
Therefore, the fight against terrorism must address direct threats and the root causes of terrorism and the international community must place more urgent attention to the development issue by fulfilling the millennium development goals and by alleviating poverty. The international community must establish a new security concept; value consultations and cooperation; respect different civilizations, social systems and ideologies; move forward the democratization of international relations and work together to build a harmonious world. In essence, the fight against terrorism should put greater emphasis on addressing the root causes of terrorism, which means achieving universal prosperity and peace through development.
By People’s Daily Online and its author is Shen Jiru