During one hot summer in my childhood, our house became infested with ants. I spent many hours gleefully bombarding their nests with boiling water and when that failed we turned to chemicals. But however many ants we killed, the next day they would reappear without fail.
Then one day I read in a book that the best way to get rid of ants was to stop them wanting to come in your house. I knew that ants liked sugar, so I sprayed a solution of harmless salt water around the cracks. They never bothered us again.
Perhaps the Israelis and Americans would do well to adopt this method instead of thinking that they can bomb their way to a solution. I know that innocent Israeli lives have been lost, but does that justify killing ordinary Lebanese people? Some blogs have been depressingly bellicose in their response to recent events. I'm not surprised. Military superiority breeds an arrogance in which the killing of civilians becomes 'collateral damage' and this naturally creates a climate of desperation in which a small but significant number of people will be convinced that terrorism is their only weapon.
Terrorists are like the ants - powerless as individuals, but collectively they are a force to be reckoned with and are impossible to eradicate by force. If you don't agree look at the ETA in Spain and the IRA in Northern Ireland. The British Army is generally regarded as one of the best in the world, but they were unable to stop terrorists in Ulster.
So what should we do? Give in to the the people described by George Bush as 'Islamic fascists'? Of course not. They do not represent Islam, but their very existence is proof of the desperation that some people in the muslim world feel. Let's not forget that Islam has also been a religion of enlightenment and tolerance. We must remember that Jews and Christians were tolerated in the muslim world for over a thousand years and this only came to an end when Israel was founded.
We need to ask ourselves why so many ordinary people are turning to murder. Look at the 9/11 bombers. Look at the average suicide bomber. As much as we like to persuade ourselves that they were evil, they weren't. They worked, studied hard and were nice to their families and neighbours and yet they were capable of such an appalling and immoral act. Why? How can we stop this seemingly unstoppable slide into an age of terror and anarchy?
There is no easy solution, but we should begin with achieving a lasting settlement in the Middle East. Israel must return to its pre-1967 borders in return for a cessation of hostilities and it should create a society in which Arabs are not second-class citizens. As for the West, we should leave the Middle East alone. We have lost the moral high ground and everything we do seems to alienate even more people. Let's get our own house in order before we put the world to rights.