The Background: Confrontation, Containment, or Dialogue?
The terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001 prompted a great deal of reflection on the deeper issues involved in the violent collision of East and West. Assuming confrontation to be inevitable in a world of irreconcilable hostility, many see military response and vigilant security measures to be sufficient in disposing of the radical fundamentalist challenge. It is, admittedly, not difficult to see how the military solution should be attractive to people who learnt to cut their teeth on the predigested rusk of Cold War moralizations, yet, at the same time, hard to see how that can substitute for long-term engagement on the scope and cogency of liberal democratic values confronted with a radical fundamentalist ideology. Military strikes alone are unlikely to take care of that ideology, because for the terrorists the two wrongs of infidel hegemony abroad, compounded by infidel affluence at home, do not make a right. It is, accordingly, the 'closed borders' of fundamentalist ideology, the charmed circle of its self-reinforcing logic that we should place under unflinching scrutiny.