Boro Middle East expert calls for global coalition

By Daniel Massey

A Queens College Middle East expert believes Tuesday’s attacks against the United States created an opportunity to mobilize a new global war against terrorism.

Mark Rosenblum, a history professor and the director of the Michael Harrington Center at Queens College, said this war will not be won with missiles and bullets, but by an unprecedented coalition of diverse nations determined to put an end to terrorism.     

In an interview Friday, Rosenblum said diplomacy must overshadow military might for the United States to effectively stamp out terrorism.

He called on U.S. officials to engage governments they are not accustomed to dealing with diplomatically, especially leaders of the Arabic and Islamic world and the Palestinian Authority.

“We have an opportunity, a tragic opportunity, to build an anti-terrorist coalition that includes the Jewish state of Israel and very large parts of the Arab and Islamic worlds,” he said. “It would be a tremendous service in terms of attacking and defeating the terrorists that did this.”

Rosenblum said the coalition could also help settle the volatile situation raging in the Middle East.

“It could help the Israeli-Palestinian war of attrition that has been raging because it would create Israeli and Palestinians fighting together against terror and serve as a springboard for renewal of dialogue and negotiations.”

The professor said the scope of last Tuesday’s attacks make the establishment of such a coalition imperative.

“It’s pretty clear we’re talking about a network, not a single organization or single country.” he said. “There are 30 to 40 countries from which this network of terrorism operates. It is a broad range of countries not restricted to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Algeria.”

At a news conference Monday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said “Osama Bin Laden is the chairman of a holding company and within that holding company are terrorist cells and organizations in dozens of countries around the world, any one of them capable of committing a terrorist act.”

Rosenblum’s plan calls for the United States to get the active support of Arab and Islamic countries for waging this war against terrorism. He said the challenge facing Powell to put together the most inclusive coalition possible is a critical one.

“The real way to defeat terrorism besides militarily is to get those countries in which terrorists operate to declare it outside the legitimate practice of Islam,” he said. “If Americans are looking for a solely military solution, they’re wrong.”

In comments Monday Powell said it is vital for all countries, “especially Arab” ones to “come out and condemn” terrorist activity. Rosenblum said support from other nations must go beyond the simple condemnation of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“What’s needed is active sharing of intelligence,” he said, “not moral and rhetorical support.” He added that Americans need to have the right to fly military planes over certain countries and the power to extradite suspected terrorists.

    “These are very concrete things the administration is now requesting of states that in the past kept America at arms’ length from intervening.”

Rosenblum believes the enormity of the tragedy will thrust the United States out of the “awkward” position in the Middle East it has been in since the Camp David peace summit of July 2000 failed to produce an agreement.

“Diplomacy is critical here,” he said. “You’re not going to solve the battle against terrorism at the barrel of a gun or the other end of a smart bomb.”    

Reach Reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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