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The Way to Encourage Terrorism

November 11, 2009

The Way to Encourage Terrorism

Terrorism is a tactic not an ideology so to treat it as some kind of warped learning disability offers no solutions. Even the definition of terrorism is very vague and can change from side to side depending upon who favours the action. Someone’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist and visa versa. Remember the Contra Rebels? They were a foreign sponsored and supplied group dedicated to bringing down the elected government. Remember the KKK in its glory years? They boasted membership numbers in the millions but today are recognized as America’s home grown terrorist organization. History also has a way of white washing your friends and demonizing the enemy beyond reason. Another excellent example is the Spanish Civil War. It attracted many foreign fighters who went with the idea that they were fighting fascism. Many were shocked to find that a large part of the Socialist agenda was to execute thousands of Nuns and Priests, yet parts of modern American culture still see the Socialists their as saintly heroes.

There is a whole sub-culture that justifies any violence as long as it is used against the nominated enemy but will call their enemy terrorists for the same acts. Whether it is Terrorists or state sponsored Terror it is all the same to the victim. The innocent draw no comfort in knowing they were executed for a ‘noble’ cause. It is the tactics of terrorism that determine what it is, not whose side they happen to be on. Yet the same tactics of targeting civilians have been used by so called ‘good guys’ in the past. The double standard of judgement is applied for the sake of partisan loyalty and not because of some moral virtue.

Terrorism does not get better with the killing of a terrorist. This is the fundamental problem with the current war on terror. It is based upon the false premise that using violence will teach terrorists how not to use violence. Unfortunately this interpretation of ‘an eye for an eye’ has perverted into taking the whole head as retaliation. This is not just a sad reflection of man’s inhumanity to man but a total failure to grasp that your enemy can be as brave and committed as you are. It is also a failure to understand that you can kill people with a bullet but not an idea. If the idea is that ‘violence works’, then it will be validated with violence. The cycle of violence and retribution begins.

Injustice perceived or real is the terrorist’s breeding ground. Obvious injustices breed them faster. No amount of killing will ever crush a deep anger and rage but will only deepen the resolve of many. If your mother was killed by a cluster bomb dropped in Iraq, would you be understanding? If half your nation was flattened like Lebanon, would you accept that is was a fair response? Yet this is precisely what these victims are being ordered to do. At the same time in the West we are being shown images of the Twin Towers and being told to maintain the rage. How easy it is to fall into deadly hypocrisy and rationalisms about teaching other people a lesson. How easy is it to believe your own propaganda?

The problem with the iron fist of retribution is that that it does not work. We can spectacularly blow up a whole city and find that the enemy has become stronger because of it. Grieving families know who dropped the cluster bombs; brothers know who killed their sister; friends know when a pal is buried beneath a pile of rubble. It is a fantasy to assume that people are stupid and blind. It is also a fantasy to think that they will not be angry and some will want the same kind of retribution that was visited upon them. Terrorist recruiters not just sift through the rubble after a battle they are looking for justifiably angry people to empathise with. From the rubble of anger and grief comes the slow indoctrination process to make a person accept that violence is the only way to make change in the world. This may be a repulsive notion to many but even some ‘anti-terrorists’ can justify violence as the only answer to terrorism. It is the ultimate power struggle and is self destructive.

We have some terrible examples in recent years of the mentality of brute force being the answer to brute force: The invasion of Iraq; Abu Graibe; torture and abuse; Black Sites; Water Boarding just to name a few. What was offered as a solution has only made the problem worse on two fronts. One is that this abuse provokes anger and the second is that this abuse validates that the tactic of Terrorism is okay to a Terrorist. Try telling a terrorist that it is not okay for him to torture but it is okay for the USA to use Waterboarding. He may be a terrorist but he is not blind and will use the excuse that ‘your side tortures.’

A delusional approach to terrorism is never more prevalent than in the concepts of collective guilt, collective blame and collective punishment. Killing a whole village on the suspicion that one person was a terrorist sympathizer seems psychotic, but has happened. So what about bombing a nation back to the stone-age to get at a small number of terrorist? Is that less psychotic? Yet we have suggestions in Western mainstream media stipulating that we should invade the Middle East, kill the leaders and convert them all to Christianity. Others have suggested that nuking the Middle East was an appropriate action to take. Absolute contempt for human lives is not new but it is new to mainstream Western media. How did torture become the new black? How do we lay claim to being ‘good’ if we indulge in the lowest forms of barbarity? How do we explain it to the young person being seduced by terrorist recruiters?

Justice and injustice are what motivate humans to take extreme actions. If real justice is never offered then anything that seems like it will do. The tactics used by terrorists may seem insane but they are often designed to provoke the overwhelming response. Images of war circulate the Internet and are presented at information nights by terrorist recruiters. Every picture is given the spin it requires to provoke anger, rage and even hate. Mangled images of children associated with the correct caption can be very powerful. Even the truth shown in a photo can be distorted with blind emotion. Who provided them with these images? The ‘Good Guys’ did by responding to a provocation in a predictable manner. They offer to the terrorists precisely the narrative that they want to hear, with stories of injustice and the photos to prove it. Good luck trying to stop the cycle of retaliation this way. Good luck trying to teach peace with a loaded gun.

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