Tuesday, March 08, 2005

ON THE WEEK of the anniversary of the March 11 bombings, a so-called international conference on terrorism starts today in Madrid. A root-cause, military-is-not-the-solution fest and little more. Just see the kind of event it is:
Spanish participants said last week that governments must address the causes of terrorism to defeat it, rather than lashing out as the United States did in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The United States attacked Afghanistan in late 2001 because the Taliban regime was sheltering Osama bin Laden, whose al-Qaida network carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The consensus ... is a 'soft' power approach based on prevention not like the United States has in mind, but (rather) with engagement with North African Muslim nations, economic development, assimilating and integrating immigrants into host nations," said Charles Powell, a history professor at San Pablo-CEU University in Madrid.

Discussions Tuesday and Wednesday will focus on political, economic, religious and cultural explanations of terrorism, and appropriate police, intelligence and military responses.

The Arab-Israeli conflict will be a key topic, along with democracy-building in parts of the world with authoritarian regimes.

"I believe (the conference) is going to support the European style and not put force first; rather, only as the last resort," said Andres Ortega, director of the Spanish edition of Foreign Policy magazine.

Lots of people were invited, but there's been a lot of people changing plans lately: among political figures, none of the big Western countries will attend (not even the other two amigos):

Among those scheduled to attend are Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, as well as the head of Russia's National Security Council, Igor Ivanov, and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and former President Bill Clinton may also attend, said a conference spokesman, Andrew Hazell.

Andrew Hazell is outdated because even Clinton has cancelled. At least Kofi Annan will be there, Andrew!

Looking at the list of other attendees you can see some interesting people (Bernard Koucher), but at the same time some "usual suspects" (George Soros). At the same time, a Spanish online newspaper reports (link in Spanish) that people like MEMRI'S Yigal Carmon, David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes and Bat Ye'or were initially invited, but then started receiving messages from the organizers telling them what were the acceptable terms in their speeches (don't use "Islamic terrorism" but "international terrorism), or telliing them that they wouldn't cover the expenses. Or in the case of Bat Ye'or, telling them that they couldn't provide any protection, a specially outrageous thing considering the Egyptian writer is under constant death threats for her views. Naturally, they cancelled.

Of course you'll notice how the four share one thing: neither of them buy the politically correct, leftist approach to terrorism, nor the angelic (or naif, if you will) vision of PM Zapatero and the need for an Alliance of Civilizations.

UPDATE. Minor editing of an error spotted via Irene Adler.