Saturday, January 19, 2013

Can any approach to Radical terrorists stop their violence?

He (Fowler) has pushed for NATO and Western involvement in propping up African forces in their fight: “The humanitarian disaster Al Qaeda’s plan calls for is going to engage us anyway.”

But Robin Wright, a joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and Woodrow Wilson International Center, is among those who caution against using strong international force.

“We have yet another episode because of our intervention (whereby) extremists can exploit the hostility that has built up in the Islamic world,” she said. “The longer this goes on, the greater the danger.
“Any long-term strategy cannot be solely military but the problem is, it’s Africa and Africa’s the loneliest continent,” she added. “When it comes to basic development issues, we haven’t done enough. This is a much more complicated picture.”
(From Mali: Militant group at centre of conflict has troubling ambitions, by Michelle Shepperd, Toronto Star January 18, 2013, excerpted below)
Expanding military action or a much more complex and comprehensive approach to terrorists, radical Islamists anywhere, and more specifically in Africa... that might be a debate developing in many of the world's capitals, and the world's strategic think tanks, and the worlds's military and securities academies over the next several weeks, months and years.
For our part, a review of the last nearly half-century of the military impact of Russians, NATO, the United States and other efforts on the Islamic terrorist movement on the Taliban in Afghanistan, and AlQaeda in the Middle East, would suggest that dropping bombs and missiles, engaging them in armed combat in villages and towns and in the mountains of Afghanistan, has done very little to reduce either their will or their numbers of recruits. This amorphous and increasingly well-armed, multi-celled, apparently multi-headed monster appears in many guises, many huts, many recorded videos, many faces, and in many languages, all of them apparently dedicated to a Sunni global dominance.
And while there is a male-culture at the heart of all western responses, a response dedicated to the exclusive deployment of hard power, Robin Wright has a more tortuous approach, one that will be difficult to "sell" in many western military "situation rooms".
As in fighting fires in the roots of trees, the firefighters use very different approaches and equipment from pouring tonnes of water from huge hoses on burning suburban homes. The firefighters have to expose the fire first to see how deep and how hot it is, depending on the degree of root it has destroyed, the type of soil, the type of tree and the current and both past and future weather and climate conditions.
Similarly, the world, while determined to excise this cancer from all locations on the planet, will have to be much more creative, more resourceful, more measured and take a perspective that is much longer and more persistent than in any war of the last century or more.
We have failed in our development efforts in too much of the third world countries; we have permitted the huge corporations to get rich from the natural resources of too much of the third world, pillaging both those resources and the people who live in close proximity; we have permitted too many ruthless and greedy dictators to take power and to pilfer much of whatever "aid" we forwarded to many of those countries. Poverty, disease, blocked access to education, political repression, dictatorships and lawlessness even in some cases, anarchy, has provided a backdrop for our blind pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey approach of foreign aid.
As a consequence, as Ms. Wright's words suggest, the hostility that has built up in too many of these countries is now being exploited by those determined to wreak havoc on much of the developed world.
And who among those living in desperate living conditions would not feel deep and long-standing hostility to the rich countries in the world for our arrogance, our innocence, our patronizing attitudes and approaches to the complexity of both their needs and their legitimate aspirations. Now, even moderate imams are being targetted by the radical Islamic terrorists, for not supporting their radical agenda supported and executed through violent measures.
And this conflict is not about to disappear, in the next year, the next decade, or perhaps even in the balance of the century.
Our children and grandchildren will still be facing uprisings and surprise attacks in subways, on trains and planes, as energy refineries, in office towers, and in schools and universities long after we have departed.
The names and faces and perhaps even the types of weapons deployed by the terrorists may change; their commitment to the achievement of their deeply-held goals and aspirations is unlikely to change.
And, what is worse, we only ennoble them in their efforts through our falling into their deliberately-set entrapments.
We have to come to a place, led by people like Robin Wright, where the differences have to be settled through both negotiation and compromise, and not expect victory through our military might. Nevertheless, we also know that, in saying that, these people are the least amenable to negotiation and compromise....so we do face a real and unnerving conundrum...
Perpetual violence, killing, hostage-taking, suicide bombs and even plagues (should the terrorists get their hands on the coveted biological, chemical or nuclear weapons) is our prospective future, so long as these terrorists continue their unrelenting campaign to destroy the western civilization. And the more military engagements of our hard power and their meagre weaponry (attached to iron wills) we permit, the greater will be their commitment to their cause and the more successful will their recruitment efforts be.
We do, indeed, face a potential "bargain with the devil"....in that if we take the peaceful route, we will appease the enemy and if we continue down the military route, we will enhance the capacity and will of the enemy to continue their long march to eventual victory....or in our view, the potential of armeggedon.
Is the enemy the foreign terrorists, or is the enemy within our hearts and minds and spirits?


Mali: Militant group at centre of conflict has troubling ambitions

By Michelle Shepperd, Toronto Star, January 18, 2013
It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

—Sun Tzu, The Art of War
James Fowler, former Ambassador to the UN, and former captive of AQIM in Mali quoted in Shepperd piece:
“They would tell me repeatedly, ‘We fight to die and you fight to go home to your wife and children. How can we lose?’ ” said Fowler, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations.

“We ought to assist our African friends in degrading Al Qaeda to the point that they no longer represent a menace the Africans cannot deal with,” he said. “I will never use the words ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’ because you don’t do that with insurgencies.”
He has pushed for NATO and Western involvement in propping up African forces in their fight: “The humanitarian disaster Al Qaeda’s plan calls for is going to engage us anyway.”
But Robin Wright, a joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and Woodrow Wilson International Center, is among those who caution against using strong international force.
“We have yet another episode because of our intervention (whereby) extremists can exploit the hostility that has built up in the Islamic world,” she said. “The longer this goes on, the greater the danger.
“Any long-term strategy cannot be solely military but the problem is, it’s Africa and Africa’s the loneliest continent,” she added. “When it comes to basic development issues, we haven’t done enough. This is a much more complicated picture.”

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