The world has faced an escalation of terrorist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001 because some countries, the United States in particular, have relied solely on military force to eradicate terrorism, failing to deal with its root causes, observers here said.
Dewi Fortuna Anwar from the international relations department at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said that since 9/ 11, the world has seen bombings in London, Madrid, Bali and Jakarta, which claimed hundreds of lives. U.S. military approach to fight terrorism has created global anti-Americanism and enhanced radicalism among young Muslim people.
"It seems that the more repressive the approach the more martyrs appear to serve as suicide bombers," the Jakarta Post on Sunday quoted Dewi as saying.
While agreeing that a military approach alone will not work, Ali Alatas, former foreign minister and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's special envoy to Lebanon, criticized the United States for preemptive strikes on countries it believes are protecting terrorists.
"The U.S. military invasion of Iraq, for instance, is seen by many developing countries as a diversion from the war on terror to serve the U.S.'s narrow interests, as there was no proof that the country had anything to do with al-Qaida," Alatas said on Sunday.
Other countries, including Indonesia, he said, saw the military approach and preemptive strikes as the wrong solution for the problem.
"The U.S. must seek support and cooperation from other countries, including majority Muslim countries, to address the root causes of terrorism, which I believe lie in the feelings of injustice, especially among young Muslims, in how the U.S. handles Middle Eastern problems, especially the Israel-Palestine conflict, " Alatas said.
It appears U.S policy in fighting terrorism, however, will remain the same for at least the next three years, Alexandra Retno Wulan, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said. She predicted nothing would change during the administration of President George W. Bush.
"Policy reversal is urgent as the more pressure on the militants the harder they will fight back. But the worst news is that there is no guarantee that U.S. foreign policy on fighting terrorism will change under a new administration, whether it is a Republican or Democratic president," she stressed.
Amris Hasan, a member of Indonesian House of Representatives Commission I overseeing defense and international affairs, urged the United States to reverse what he called "double-standards." He said U.S. policy was causing widespread hatred of the country among Muslims.
"The 9/11 attacks should have warned the U.S. to reverse its policy toward the Middle East, especially the Israel-Palestine conflict, but so far the U.S. has been more repressive. The invasion of Iraq and the current all-out support for Israeli attacks on southern Lebanon have created a new level of hatred among Muslims," he said.
Amris, who is also a lecturer at the University of Indonesia, said Bush should immediately find a new solution to Middle East conflicts. He noted that domestic support in the United States, especially regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, had fallen because of the rising death toll of American soldiers in both countries.
The four experts proposed that besides short-term approaches, such as intelligence cooperation, the United States should also employ long-term approaches, including finding a just solution to Middle East conflicts, while trying to gain the trust of Muslims by increasing contacts.
"Indonesia has been relatively successful in fighting terrorism by unifying short and long-term approaches. Beside capturing, putting on trial and punishing the suspects, Indonesia has gained support from most clerics to denounce suicide bombings and other terrorist activities as against Islam," Dewi said.