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banner Friday, 21 September, 2001, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Military options: SNP viewpoints
Amid continuing speculation about the response to last week's terrorist attacks, BBC News Online asked two key Scottish National Party figures for their views on the government's handling of the situation so far and the options ahead.

Mike Russell MSP is the SNP's education spokesman, and Colin Campbell MSP is the party's defence spokesman.

Mike Russell

It is hard to think of a greater crime than the cold-blooded murder of thousands of individuals who were simply going about their daily business.

It was staggering in its audacity and its inhumanity: here was not the banality of evil but active and targeted wickedness.

Righteous anger is an understandable response. So is the thirst for revenge.

But one of the hallmarks of a civilised society is its determination to live by the rule of law.

'Open to question'

Justice demands that there is clear proof of the guilt of Osama Bin Laden.

That proof has to be laid at the bar of world opinion and be seen to be conclusive.

Only then will a refusal to extradite the accused from Afghanistan be a complete reason to take whatever action is required to bring him to justice.

Such a process also adds to the moral and political authority behind any action.

Action by a justifiably outraged and wounded United States on its own would be understandable but open to question: action approved by a united world community would have enormous underpinning authority.

It is a moot point to argue that those who knowingly harbour a mass murder are accessories to his deeds.

George Bush talks of a "war" against terrorism. That may well be required and the courage to see it through will need to be found

But it is surely simple common sense that ordinary people cannot be held accountable for the actions of any government they did not elect and merely forced to support.

Consequently there is one additional factor that needs to be considered.

The death of more innocent people will not assuage the grief of the world - it will add to it.

'No legitimacy'

Action must therefore be strong enough to achieve its objectives but not so strong that the collateral damage works against the morality and justice of the cause.

George Bush talks of a "war" against terrorism. That may well be required and the courage to see it through will need to be found.

Such courage will come more readily from nations furth of America if this war - a unique type of war, comprising of individual actions against individual terrorist criminals and their gangs - is clearly a just war, underpinned by clear legal and moral right.

An unjust war that merely pitted the strong in righteous rage against the weak, no matter how understandable, would have no legitimacy and would gain no widespread support.

Colin Campbell

As I went into the European Committee of the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 11th the news of what seemed to be an accident at the World Trade Center was just being flashed on the in-house TV system.

When we gathered after the committee the full horror of the unwarranted murder of innocent people had unfolded.

The attack was organised efficiently, and ruthlessly executed by people who viewed their own lives as expendable.

Its symbolism is significant, striking as it did at the heart of world commerce and the US military, and its consequences, in interrupted business, job losses and stock exchange downturns have been considerable.

But the attack's severest effects have been on the people who did not survive it, were maimed, and on those who grieve.

Osama bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden: "Prime suspect"

Most of us have experienced grief, but premature and unexpected death is hard to bear, and the cumulative grief in the US is great, as is the shock.

With the availability of instant news, it is a shock shared worldwide.

President Bush's reaction was justified and predictable, to punish the initiator of the attack, to deliver retribution.

Every nation concurs, conscious that their innocent populations are all possible targets of terrorism.

'Pay a price'

Osama Bin Laden is the prime suspect.

Pakistan has been persuaded to co-operate with investigations and the possible invasion of Afghanistan.

There is a determination to make the guilty pay a price, and the good news is that time is being taken to decide what to do, and how to do it.

A knee jerk reaction would probably already have led to an instant military strike.

There are four factors in this delay.

First, that the action taken must be based on irrefutably sound evidence and be seen to be just.

With and following the planned punishment there must be a shift in world diplomacy

Second, the moderating influence of nations in Europe that have been victims of war.

Third, the difficulties of mounting a military response in a notoriously difficult area for invading troops.

Fourth, that nations are aware of the dangers of unleashing an unjustifiable scale of violence that would escalate, destabilise the world, and make the horrors of last week in the US pale to insignificance.

With and following the planned punishment there must be a shift in world diplomacy.

Terrorism thrives where there is poverty, real or perceived injustice, ignorance and hopelessness.

Large parts of the world have these in full measure. In the developed world, we do not.

We are financially reasonably secure, have a commitment to justice and universal education, and most of our people can make choices in their lives.

This should be the right of every world citizen, and we have a responsibility, when the smoke clears, to do what we can to create a world in which the conditions that feed terrorism are removed.

See also:

12 Sep 01 | Scotland
Scotland's leaders united in sorrow
26 Aug 01 | Scotland
SNP takes policy message on tour
23 Sep 00 | SNP
Emphatic SNP win for Swinney
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