Definitely Not a Safer World
Following on the news of Bush's backing Ariel Sharon's plan for the West Bank that basically obviates creating a valid Palestinian state and the ratcheting up of level of violence in Iraq, today the State Department is advising that all non-essential personnel leave Saudi Arabia because of the fears that they will be targeted for retribution. It is obvious that instead of dampening the terrorist threat, the Bush policies have strengthened the hand that the extremists have. Rather than encouraging a more democratic and open Middle East, the Bush policies have make it easier for the terrorists to convince people that the western world is determined to crush and humiliate the Islamic world. This has had terrible ramifications in Saudi Arabia which was already a restrictive, closed society that bred conspiracy theories and extremism.
"With the daily television images of soldiers killing Arab women and children in cold blood in Palestine and Iraq, there is growing anti-American feelings among the man in the street, and these guys paint the Saudi government as allies of the United States," says Otaibi. "We must raise the roof on freedom of thought and expression so that these tensions and emotions are dealt with in a peaceful manner."
And the situation will not improve unless reforms are implemented in Saudi Arabia, a solution is found in Palestine, and stability comes to Iraq, says Mr. Nogaidan.
But how can Saudi Arabia reform when they have to use harsh methods to suppress their own extremists? Reforming the society requires trusting the people so that they can help build the institutions of democracy. In the midst of attack from terrorists, it is hard to see how this trust can be built.
Somedays it appears that the world is destined to descend into another long and bitter world war using today's destructive weapons. And unfortunately, the millinealists on both sides (Christian and Islamic) are doing their utmost to drag the rest of the world into their apocalyptic vision of fire and brimstone to wipe the world clean. Are there enough people of good will and wisdom to help stem the tide and reverse the downward spiral? And if not, what then?