Mikhail Margelov
International coalition in war against terror

The world has already entered World War III. Wars used to be fought for strategic influence, but now the tactics have changed. During the last decade the civilized world has been involved in what can be described as network war. We are confronted by a ramified network of international terrorist organizations that are operating virtually in all parts of the world. All terrorist organizations and groups are interlinked, be it financially, ideologically, or tactically.

For this reason there is no difference between al-Qaeda and Chechen terrorists. We are all resisting a universal threat, and we need to pool our efforts against it. Even in this case we can hope to score success, if not an ultimate victory, in this war.

Regrettably, the character of this new confrontation is such that it is not possible to win just with btute force or outright domination. One of the major global terrorist threats comes from an ability of the minority to keep at gunpoint and in constant tension an overwhelming majority regardless of its technical equipment. Today an individual, or a group may become a weapon if they are capable of challenging the whole world. No army can stop a man with a grenade walking into a maternity hospital.

In order to win this war, mankind should define its priorities in the four following areas: finances, information, politics, and control over the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. A breakthrough has been recently made in the first area: the gold shower on extremist organizations from different sources has been reduced to a mere trickle.

It has dawned on us in all countries that if we want to break off the supply of oxygen to the terrorists, we should pool our efforts to control the flow of capital, and all but abolish the secret bank account. We even have to sacrifice certain basic humanitarian values to this goal because human life is the ultimate value.

Cooperation in the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is also making a steady headway. But the situation in politics and information is not that great. We have not yet overcome global political confrontation, the legacy of the Cold War. Not infrequently, what some countries see as a terrorist threat at home, is perceived by others as a political factor conducive to destabilization of their political rivals in the world arena.

This leads to double standards, as a result of which terrorists, for instance, in Chechnya and Palestine, receive support from some Western countries. Unfortunately, many international politicians and organizations are still sticking to the old divide-and-rule principle, and use a terrorist threat as a castle on a chessboard. As long as this castle stands on the field of a hypothetical political opponent, it is our castle.

Practice shows that this approach is totally wrong. Russia has long insisted on a more precise definition of the notion of "terrorists," and on elaboration of a common code of conduct towards terrorist organizations regardless of their basic deployment areas. The terms "separatists," "rebels," or "terrorists" should not be used in political lexicon interchangeably but depend on the international situation. A man who seizes a school, blows up a bus or plane, or, in other words, commit an act of terror against civilians, cannot be called a "rebel." But this has not been universally accepted so far.

The second area where we are suffering an obvious defeat is information. Regrettably, we are helping terrorist organizations achieve their aims ourselves by sowing panic on a world scale. In the modern civilization of excessive information our foes need access to the media, and they get it from us without the slightest effort.

Information support for the terrorists who can openly address the audience or give interviews to the media, and whose acts are covered in every detail is compelling more and more people to join them for psychological or other reasons. The Herostratus complex (a desire to do evil for fame) is fairly common. The residents of Ephesos justifiably tried to bury in oblivion the name of Herostratus who burnt down one of the seven wonders of the world, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos, in order to immortalize his name.

Russia is doing a lot in all directions of the anti-terrorist struggle. The Duma (Russian Parliament) is drafting an appeal to the U.S. Senate in order to toughen control over the media's coverage of terrorism-related problems. After the blasts in Britain, Egypt, and Turkey the world's leading powers have drawn closer in their definitions of a terrorist threat. There are changes for the better but we should not forget that the general situation in the world continues getting worse. The continued efforts of the E.U., U.S., and Russia are obviously insufficient.

The entire Middle East has turned into a powder keg. Tensions in Palestine-Israeli relations, in Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are conducive to the development of terrorist organizations. It is enough to mention the recent acts of terror in Egypt, Britain, Turkey, and Iraq, to name but a few. Therefore, the world coalition should enhance its anti-terrorist efforts many times over. We should more actively involve the world's leading international institutions such as the U.N., PACE, NATO, and OSCE in anti-terrorist programs, exchange experience and information, extradite terrorists without any conditions, no matter where they might be, and launch an adequate information campaign. We can win the war against terror --World War III-- only by stepping up our efforts in these directions.

Mikhail Margelov is chairman of the Federation Council's Foreign Affairs Committee and leader of the European Democrats political group in PACE -0-