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Former president offers approach for terrorism fight

Clinton, left and former Arkansas Sen. David Pryor stand for
Clinton, left and former Arkansas Sen. David Pryor stand for "The Star Spangled Banner" before Clinton's address at Harvard University's Institute of Politics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- There is a struggle under way "for the soul of this new century," former President Bill Clinton told students Monday at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Clinton spoke about terrorism and a range of other global issues.

He cited what he called the "central irony" of modern times: Even with great progress, the world is still plagued by fear and hatred, which he called "the oldest problem of human society." Clinton defined terrorism as the marriage of modern weapons of mass destruction to ancient racial, religious, ethnic and tribal divisions, citing East Timor, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland as examples.

Clinton outlined a three-pronged approach to dealing with the ongoing threats of terrorism. First, he said, the United States has to spread the 21st century's economic and political benefits while shrinking its burdens. Next, Clinton proposed working to create conditions in developing countries that make progress possible, especially in the Muslim world. Third, he said, the world must develop greater respect for the faiths and identities of others.

Clinton said the United States has been struggling with the terrorism problem for almost 20 years, since U.S. Marines were killed in Beirut. But he said the history of terrorism can be traced back to the Crusades.

The former president also outlined steps his administration had taken to reduce the threat of terrorism, including ratifying the chemical weapons convention, helping local authorities across the nation to prepare their response to a terrorist attack, and stockpiling vaccines, antibiotics and antidotes, in case of biological warfare.


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