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11/11/02 - THE COST OF TERRORISM - 2002-11-12

The costs of fighting terrorism are high, but the costs of surrendering to terrorism are unacceptable. As President George W. Bush said, "terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life."

Terrorist bombings in Bali, Indonesia, killed more than one-hundred-eighty people and wounded hundreds more. Concerning that savage act, Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair said, "In the end, it is not just the families now grieving for their loved ones who suffer, but also the people of Indonesia, many of these already in poverty, who will have to face the devastating economic consequences of this attack."

The economic consequences of terrorism are most serious for developing countries in Asia and elsewhere. Terrorism means increased travel and shipping costs, higher insurance rates, and tougher immigration restrictions. Terrorism discourages tourism, investment, and economic growth. It means higher prices for consumers, reduced tax revenues, and fewer jobs for workers.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and its member countries are working together and with the United States to halt terrorist activity and ensure that Southeast Asia does not become a haven for terrorism. Singapore and Malaysia moved quickly and decisively to prevent terrorist attacks by the al-Qaida-affiliated Jamaah Islamiah on domestic and foreign targets in those countries. The Philippine military is waging a campaign against Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups with U.S. assistance. The U.S. is working closely with many Asian countries to destroy al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

ASEAN leaders are stepping up their efforts against terrorism. ASEAN has agreed to set up a region-wide visa system similar to that used by the European Union. Next year, ASEAN leaders will meet in Bali to further their commitment to block terrorism.

Because the global economy is interconnected, terrorism in any part of the world threatens the economic health of countries everywhere. Full-fledged international cooperation is essential to defeat terrorism.