Several days before the arrest of the latest cohort of bombers in London, I was having a discussion with a friend about the motivation(s) of terrorist. His position is that rather than fighting them the West should remove the motivation for making them terrorist. To show them that "We are not a threat." Of all the people that I have talked to on issues like this he is one of the most sincere, logical and rational. He tries very hard to see all sides of issues and is a person that I am glad to know because knowing him makes my life better. It was truly a pleasant talk because we could discuss these things without the acrimony that often accompanies such conversations.
His argument basically boils down to
1. Terrorist feel themselves to be oppressed, disenfranchised or both.
2. Because they are oppressed, disenfranchised or both they are powerless to affect the political process in a normal means or do not trust the normal means for affecting change.
3. Therefore, we will never be rid of terrorism until we solve the underlying problems that cause it.
4. Therefore, it is counter productive to fight terrorism because in fighting it we only exacerbate the problems that cause it.
5. Once you remove the sources of frustration then the few remaining nuts will not be difficult to control.
I understand the sentiment but I have to disagree.
I don't disagree completely because there are some undeniable root problems that many times feeds the despair and rage that some people feel. But, in many cases I think that my friend is injecting reason and logic into an inherently unreasonable and illogical situation. Thus, all of the points above fall because the situation is not reasonable. I do not believe that reason can be used as a weapon against that which is militantly unreasonable. I also do not believe that all evil has inherently economic causes, but that is another post for another time.
When talking about terrorism we are, in general talking about only two groups of people. Islamic jihadist, or political revolutionaries. While individuals in these groups may be disenfranchised, oppressed or both this is not always the case. What is always true is that Jihadist and political revolutionaries are, or at lest their leadership is, generally speaking, "true believers" they aren't in it for the money. They aren't in it to liberate the oppressed, though that might be part of it. They do what they do because they believe in "inevitable rise of socialism" or because they are looking for some form of spiritual enlightenment or salvation through martyrdom. All of the other things they stand for are secondary to the cause of Islam or whatever political "ism" they represent.
These are not necessarily rational or reasonable things. Indeed, if you listen to what Osama bin Ladin has said then Spain would have to be returned to Muslim control and everyone would have to either be a Muslim or become dhimmi living under Sharia law. Is this a reasonable position? No, I do not think so. Especially since if nations would not voluntarily agree to this then they would be overcome by force. When we are dealing with Jihadist we are often time, indeed possibly most of the time talking about people who literally believe one or more of the following: that the Earth is flat; that the throne of Allah is directly over the city of Mecca, which is the actual center of the universe; that Mohammed cut the moon in 1/2 with his sword and then put it back together, that Mohammed preached to Genji's in the desert and that God literally speaks Arabic which is the perfect language. Everything mentioned above is something that is stated in the Quran or Hadith. Jihadist also seem to believe that it is a sin worthy of death to question or not believe anything in the Quran or Hadiths.
Which one of those propositions would the average non-fundamentalist Muslim be willing to hold to as truth; much less a Christian, Buddhist or Hindu? If you think the Bible has problems with science read the Quran!
You cannot compromise with people espousing ideals like this, whether religious or political because they will concede no middle ground. You cannot reason with them because their belief system is not based upon the same set of assumptions as yours but upon an internal logic that only applies to the system. If you don't buy the whole package they will just kill you or enslave you and move on.
The same is true of political revolutionaries from groups such as the "Shining Path"
in Peru. They are, or so they claim, working to bring about a total restructuring of society through armed struggle. That new society would be perfect and free of all the opression of the past one. The problem is, as far as I am concerned, that theirs would be utopia maintained by force and if you are not for them you are against them. If you are against them you are dead.
Does that mean every revolution to overthrow a government is lead by hyper-right or hyper-left wing radicals? No, certainly not. But some are and if you do not completely agree with those that are you will probably be in lots of trouble if they catch you.
Karl Popper talks about this in volume 2 of The Open Society and its Enemies when he shows how Marxism, or any ideology for that matter that claims to explain everything, as does fundamentalist Islam actually explains nothing. Such systems can only be maintained by force because they are inconsistent with the real world. The true believers in this case will not let you question them because the whole cause hangs together as a unit. If one part isn't true then the whole thing falls. Therefore, the cause must supersede the individual or argument.
Thus, in both cases, when dealing with either religious or political extremist dialog and understanding are oftentimes useless. There are only three choices available; surrender and become a slave, die passively or resist.
To deal with all-consuming, universal ideologies means we must wage either a war of words or a war of bullets, often both. We must both defeat and discredit them. There is no other way.
I'm not sure we can change many Jihadist minds through verbal methods. So, unfortunately, we are left with only more forceful options. We can isolate them, imprison them or we can kill them. Or, they will do that to us.
When I look at the near total loss of dignity suffered by women in Islamic societies, the persecution of non-Muslims in most Islamic societies, the horrific legal system that is Sharia law that Jihadist want to impose, the incredibly backwards and anti-intellectual blinders that many Muslim sects and all Jihadist submit themselves to; I chose to resist Jihadist. I would rather die than live under such conditions. I will die before I allow my wife and daughter to live under such conditions. I will resist Jihadist by all means possible. Preferably in a peaceable manner but by any means needed. They must be defeated or the world faces a future more horrific than H.W. Wells or H.P. Lovecraft could have ever imagined.
Hatred isn't reasonable. Reason is not an antidote to hatred and has often been used by haters to their advantage as proved by NAZI Germany's pact with the UK and France that was, to use Neville Chamberlain's phrase, to achieve "Peace in our time." Because hate is not reasonable I will not reason with it. I will defeat it.
Many of the leaders of terrorist groups and terrible tyrant's of the 20th century actually came from middle class or higher socio-economic backgrounds. They may recruit from the lower classes but one would be hard pressed to say that these movement arise from below. They start from much nearer the top of society than the bottom. It seems that one needs to have a certain level of education to plan and lead a revolution or to realize just how oppressed the masses are.
Thus, far from being powerless the leaders of revolutionary movements seem to wield a great deal of power.
Does all of this mean we shouldn't work harder to alleviate social and economic problems in the world including Islamic areas? No.
It does that mean we should not delude ourselves into thinking that we can negociate with people who have a take-it-or-leave-it worldview. If nothing else works then we must eradicate the Jihadist before they eradicate us. As was shown this week, It only takes a few nuts to potentially kill 1000's.
Until Next Time
The Blogger Who Advocates Resisting Terrorist