Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

State Department Addresses Counterrorism Efforts

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

State Department Addresses Counterrorism Efforts

Article excerpt

Ambassador Francis X. Taylor, State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, invited NGO representatives and selected journalists to an informal dialogue at the State Department May 30 on the war on terrorism. After rising to the rank of brigadier general in 1996, Ambassador Taylor retired from the military on July 1, 2001, after a 31-year military service career, and, 12 days later, took up his current counterterrorism position.

Ambassador Taylor said that while the U.S. -led forces were "breaking things" in Afghanistan, the State Department is trying as well to make terrorism an unacceptable tool, and to address the root causes of terrorism: poverty, education, religious training, and especially the "misunderstanding" which is causing countries to hate the West. A major task for the U.S., Taylor said, is to get the word out about American values and what America is all about, in order to make the world understand and like this country again. You can't fight hate, he observed, you have to educate, and hate takes one or two generations to change.

Part of the war on terrorism is addressing human rights issues, Taylor said. "A good human rights policy is good for counterterrorism," he explained.

When asked to define terrorism, Taylor admitted that one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. Defining terrorism, the ambassador said, is like playing political football. Even the U.N. has not defined terrorism, he noted, but has denounced it. The U.S. State Department works hard, he said, to determine whose freedom to support or who is fighting for independence from oppression. …

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