[LINK] What price might democracy have to pay?
Wed, 12 Sep 2001 03:20:16 +1000
This was a question asked by someone on TV:
What price might democracy have to pay?
My immediate reaction nearly 4 hours after the attacks.
The terrorist attacks are a terrible violation - comparable to the
largest attacks and battles in war.
I hope there are no more such attacks - and no rash, unwise, responses.
The challenge now is to stop our governments from using these events as
a reason for reducing democracy, freedom, privacy etc.
No level of surveillance can protect, with 100% certainty, against
people who are so angry that they will kill themselves and innocent
people. Since a kilo or so of plutonium can probably be purchased in
the former USSR, and since it is trivial to build a suitcase-sized bomb
with it, motivated people could cause far worse devastation than this.
The only reliable solution is for countries such as the US to ensure
that they are not involved in any oppression which drives people to
these lengths. The natural instincts about building fortresses and
vanquishing all opponents are inappropriate. Civilisations are too open
and too vulnerable. Brute force calls to eradicate terrorism are
dangerously wrong - you can't forcibly get rid of all such aggrieved
people, without creating many, many more. But we can't succumb to the
demands of every aggrieved party either.
I hope that it will be widely understood that no country can fight or
force its way out of this sort of situation. They must find ways of
getting along with other people which doesn't drive them to such lengths
as these. The US has done, or been involved in, terrible things to
some peoples. To me, the most obvious instances were in Vietnam, Laos
and Cambodia where (to my understanding) several million people were
This is an attack on civilisation. But people don't do this on a whim.
I think they only do it - murdering countless civilians - because they
are desperate about their own civilisation, including their God or
Gods. I am not trying to justify these vicious, vast, crimes. But
these attacks show that countries have no choice but to get along with
other countries and peoples so as to make sure that no-one gets so
desperate as the people who made this attacks.
I wish language, culture, race and religion did not - in some instances
- cause such friction, estrangement, fanaticism and cruelty. The
Internet has a role to play in bringing people together despite these