Retaliation is a trap. In a world that was supposed to have learnt that the rule of law comes above revenge, President Bush appears to be heading for the very disaster that Osama bin Laden has laid down for him.
Let us have no doubts about what happened in New York and Washington last week. It was a crime against humanity. We cannot understand America’s need to retaliate unless we accept this bleak, awesome fact. But this crime was perpetrated – it becomes ever clearer – to provoke the United States into just the blind, arrogant punch that the US military is preparing.
Mr bin Laden – every day his culpability becomes more apparent – has described to me how he wishes to overthrow the pro-American regime of the Middle East, starting with Saudi Arabia and moving on to Egypt, Jordan and the other Gulf states. In an Arab world sunk in corruption and dictatorships – most of them supported by the west – the only act that might bring Muslims to strike at their own leaders would be a brutal, indiscriminate assault by the United States.
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