How the World Views the War on Terrorism: What the U.S. Media Missed

March 11, 2002

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March 11, 2002 – An enormous amount has been published in this country about terrorism, Islam, and Middle Eastern politics since September 11th, but almost all of it has been presented through the lens of the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. Surprisingly little has been written about what all of this means in the rest of the world, until now.

The latest issue of the Council’s semiannual publication, Correspondence: An International Review of Culture and Society, reports on the foreign debates triggered by the September 11 attacks and the subsequent anti-terrorist campaign—debates that reveal as much about the internal dynamics of the societies themselves as about the external realities they confront. The issue publishes reports from Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, and all the regions of Europe, with related stories on Europe’s battles over immigration and minorities.
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For example, in France, Jean Baudrillard, one of the country’s leading philosophers, expressed his “jubilation” at the World Trade Center attack on the front page of Le Monde. In Italy, the country’s leading newspaper set off an equally incendiary debate by publishing a 12,000-word diatribe by journalist Oriana Fallaci insisting that the attack was indeed a war of religion and that Italy must rise up in defense of Western values and protect itself from the “reverse crusade” of Muslim immigration. In Germany and elsewhere, a curious phenomenon arose, which we term the “substitution phenomenon,” in which articles by a series of internationally known intellectuals (the Indian novelist Arundhati Roy, linguist Noam Chomsky, the spy novelist John Le Carré), which were highly critical of U.S. policy, were given great prominence at a time in which it was taboo for local politicians and writers to express anything but solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attack. In similar fashion, Fallaci’s anti-Islamic tract played an important part in the discussion in both Poland and Spain, both countries in which Catholicism has been historically linked with national identity.

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In related articles on Muslim migration in Europe, Correspondence surveys debates on terrorism, surveillance, and national identity. The issue also continues its survey of national cinemas in Italy, Egypt, Iran, India, and the three very distinct Chinese film industries of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the mainland (now a market officially opened to its WTO partners’ products). Other pieces of general interest cover Korean-Japanese soccer diplomacy, translation by computer, and the arrest in Egypt of a scandalous poet’s son accused of posting his father’s verses posthumously on the Internet.

Published for two years by the Council, Correspondence: An International Review of Culture and Society has become a vital source of un- and under-reported cultural news, information, and analysis from a global perspective, for which the publication’s contributors scour periodicals, academic literature, and belles-lettres from around the world.

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