The War on Terror - Ambassador Howard H. Baker, Jr.

Note: The following, originally placed on the Mainichi Interactive on Monday, December 3, 2001, is reproduced here with The Mainichi Shimbun's permission.

Some 80 nations lost citizens in the World Trade Center on September 11. The messengers of terror who invaded the United States attacked the entire world. And the world responded. NATO invoked Article V for the first time in its history. The United Nations Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the Organization of American States, APEC, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Arab League and dozens of other organizations issued resolutions and statements condemning this assault. Close friends like Japan, and even former adversaries, offered their support in this great struggle. The world is united against terror.

Misconceptions remain. The war on terror is not a war against Islam. The United States is a society devoted to religious tolerance. Millions of Americans are children of Islam, a religion that respects human life. Islam does not sanction mass murder. Terrorists defile the teachings of Islam.

The war on terror is not a war on the Afghan people; it is against al-Qaeda and its Taliban sponsors. Al-Qaeda is an extremist minority, enemies not only of the United States, but also of all Islamic states that reject its perverted ideology. The Taliban is not a legitimate expression of Islam. It does not represent the will of Allah or the will of the people, who have suffered and died under its fanatical rule.

The war on terror was not caused by policy or poverty. It was started by criminals who hate the entire civilized world because of the freedoms and values we represent.

The war on terror is not a "retaliatory" attack. That description is wrong. We do not target innocent people, as the terrorists do. We regret any loss of civilian life. The U.S. is targeting only military and terrorist sites, and U.S. military forces are taking extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties, as they hunt down the terrorists hiding out in Afghanistan.

The war on terrorism is not just a military campaign. Even before September 11, the United States was the greatest donor of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. We continue to provide this assistance, and are working tirelessly with all civilized nations to build political, diplomatic and economic solutions to the problems of Afghanistan and the entire region. As President Bush said, "We would like to see leadership arise in Afghanistan which represents the interests of all the Afghan people."

We face a long struggle against the forces of terror even after the military campaign in Afghanistan is over, but I am heartened by the resolve with which Japan has joined the effort. Prime Minister Koizumi has shown great leadership with his seven-point plan and the dispatch of support vessels. The Japanese government ratified the UN convention on terrorist bombing, and signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. Japan understands that this war against terror is not an American problem. It is a Japanese problem, a Chinese problem, a Russian problem, an Afghan problem, in short, a human problem. It is a war for the preservation of civilization, and we will prevail.

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