Tuesday, January 06, 2004

When History is Hijacked: "The war on terror is a huge distraction from the real priorities that face the world. The human population has tripled in the last 60 years. Even if it never doubles again, that puts enormous pressure on resources and the environment. The pressure is mounting even faster because many of those who have been poor (including most Asians) are rapidly industrializing and raising their consumption levels. Meanwhile, those who are left out of the prosperity, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, become ever more desperate and resentful. The tightly interconnected wealth-producing machine that is the globalized economy is tremendously vulnerable to environmental catastrophes, political shocks, or even financial mismanagement. There is a full agenda that needs our undivided attention if we are to get through the next half-century without a big blowup."

"Things would certainly be different now if al-Qaeda hijackers had been caught before they carried out 9/11, or if George W. Bush had not been awarded victory by the U.S. Supreme Court after the 2000 election. What we are living with now is a runaway fluke. A small band of Islamist fanatics is trying to provoke a global confrontation between the West and Islam as a way of levering themselves into power in Muslim countries, and a U.S. administration dominated by neoconservative ideologues is using this threat to justify their project for global American hegemony through military power. Neither is likely to succeed, but between them they could wreck both the institutions and the spirit of multilateral cooperation that were going to ease our way through the real crises that are forthcoming."

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