Posts Tagged ‘extremists’

Terrorism: their and our

May 21, 2017

Instead of writing a final word on terrorism of today, I am trying to define the problem and discuss a possible way out. I leave “celebrity” terrorism aside since that is a different problem.

By terrorism I mean here attacks on civilians. In the middle east Muslims are attacked by Islamists and by Western (including russian and japanese) forces of ”law and order”. In parts of the middle east Muslims are killed as part of a civil war between sunni and shia and as part of resistance against western aggression. The West is there to protect access to raw materials and to prevent religious fanatics, instead of Western corporations, from controlling the region.  Both parties are killing innocent Muslim civilians.In other words a perfect whirlpool of mixed motives:

I don’t intend to give a complete rundown of terrorist activities or discuss the rights and wrongs of the situation. The main point is that civilians are being killed as a routine matter.

The difference is that Muslim fanatics are killing other Muslims to assert their power. The Western forces of “law and order” are killing Muslims because they simply don’t care. It is clear that in crowded cities and in firefights there is no automatic immunity for civilians, but weddings and funerals are bombed, schools and hospitals are attacked without anyone held responsible. Western state terrorists are not targeting Muslim civilians; they simply do not care. To the inhabitants of these areas the difference, between the two parties, is irrelevant. Dead is dead.

Considering the historical lessons of successful antiterrorist actions, I will outline a policy. When actions against terrorism have been successful (the British against IRA for exemple) this has been based on legality. This does not mean that brute force and extermination have not also been successful. But the cost to the host society and the incompleteness of the results has made this a very chancy proposition in a world where nuclear weapons are getting cheaper, more portable and finding disturbed fanatics to carry them easier all the time.

Legality has the following parts.

  1. A clear dividing line between legal and illegal activities
  2. Those that are innocent are generally acquitted
  3. No punishment greater than the crime committed
  4. Members of military and paramilitary forces of “law and order” who have gone over the line are put on trial

The first time any officer is put on trial for “carelessness” resulting in civilian casualties will be  the el alamein of the fight against terrorism.

The first time any officer will be charged in an international court for the breach of point 4 will be the D-day of counterterrorism.

Legality is the first element but there is another element which the terrorists completely lack. The second element is kindness, which can be shown in many ways. Here is how you can think of kindness in today’s world, even if I hope you will find a better way. Apart of the manipulators, most terrorists are not very well acquainted with the Koran and its meaning.  One suggestion is that captured terrorists on the fringes of atrocities will serve their prison sentence building a mosque and their evenings studying Koran under a moderate mulla. The purpose of the studies is not to convert them but leave them informed.

The conflict between the muslim world and the west won’t be solved by violence.

 

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Sarajevo on the Baltic

September 26, 2016

The Balkans have traditionally been an the object of the great powers’  ambitions. 1914 in Sarajevo, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire was assasinated. This led
to a serie of events that became the First World War, the results of which still beset us today. The Great Powers of Europe were taken by surprise quite simply.
Today we have a similar situation in the Baltic. In articles, speeches, and plans it has been discussed how Nato and Russia, separately, or simultaneously can prepare an
armed conflict there. Here I wish to discuss something  nobody takes up: the risk for such a conflict when nobody wants it. I want to show that Tjernobil and Fukushima, the risk for an armed conflict is great, could happen at any moment, but can be limited by a thoughtout plan of action.

the fire hazard

After the invasion of Sovjet Russia at the end of the Second World War, the Baltic was treated as a part of Russia. People from Russia were moved there or were drawn there by various rewards.When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989 and the Baltic states regained their independence, these people were stranded. In this article I call them the Rbalts. The original inhabitants I designate as Urbalts. One possibility was that the Urbalts could have realized what an advantage this was and the Rbalts what an unique opportunity this offered, but the recent oppression and both groups unwillingness to integrate has been too great. We have in other words a firehazard that can be ignited at any moment by any spark of conflict. It is an illusion to imagine that, whoever runs the government, Russia would remain passive if Rbalts are killed. It is just a great illusion to imagine that Nato would remain passive if “volunteers” crossed the border of any Baltic state to support Rbalts who cause disturbances.

the fire alarm

To prevent this, an agreement must be signed, quickly, between Nato and ´Russia to handle the situation.A “direct line” must be established between Kreml and the Nato for swift intervention before the situation gets out of hand. In other words, an EU muddle such as in the migrant question is to ask for a military conflict in the Baltic.

the sparks

a. a Baltic government that faces an election defeat because it is too corrupt or incompetent, is tempted to play the ethnic card openly or behind the scenes.

b. Urbaltic or Rbaltic xenophobes. That means those that not only hate other ethnics but organize acts of violence against them. Note! That they may be only a minor part of  their group is of no importance; it is the threat of violence against people based on their origin. A fire alarm is the mass media content in the area or across the border.

c.  Ambitious high Russian officials. As long as there is peace in the area it remains a backwater. But if tensions increase so do the promotion opportunities  for higher officials.   Some “patriots” may be tempted to increase their influence.

the fire station

If tensions get out of hand immediate action is needed where the Balt states, Nato and Russia are informed. For this to be effective a crisis line must exist between the Kreml and Nato and a crisis center exist where both parties are represented.

Fire fighting

To start a fire is the work of a moment, but it takes time to extinguish one. I cannot prescribe how it should be done, but I can suggest how it could be done. Because preparation is necessary.

a. What kind of Nato troops?

It is important therefore that the troops don’t belong to the historical enemies or friends of Russia. A start at least should be made with soldiers from West of the Rhone.

b. What should they do?

Take over law enforcement duties from the local government, see that the laws of the land are followed, and maintain life in the turbulent areas till the situation calms down. Which means no Urbalts or Rbalts being harmed. They shall also prevent any “volunteers” as in Crimea and eastern Ukraine or any rightwing extremists like the “Azov brigade”from the Ukraine entering the area.

c. Human rights, a cause for conflict?.

Genocide, like in Rwanda, has often followed an official or tolerated  campaign in mass media which has whipped up hatred against the targeted group. On the other hand, freedom of speech is one of the tools a democratic society has developed to limit political power and its misuses.It is  important that Nato journalists have full freedom to investigate developments and write about them. But what if the government or organizations in the Baltic States misuse freedom of speech to spread ethnic hatred? Even this must be prepared against and not solved by some last minute improvisation. A court should be established where the crime would be massmedial preparation for genocide. The court should consist of lawyers and journalists and have its own investigative resources.

d. A tool from history

The following is an idea and not a proposal as above.There could be many other proposals. In Italy of the renaissance, when two powerful factions could not agree, and city life became paralyzed, a podesta was established. That is an authority constituted of people not related to either faction who were imported till the local parties realized that they could do things better themselves by working together. That is an emergency measure to cool things down until time has passed and at least a better solution than  quotas that has more or less paralyzed Bosnia.

e. Demagogues

Real differences of opinion can exist between Urbalts and Rbalts which can only be solved by mutual discussions. But some will want to use and deepen these differences for their own personal advantage.To counter this a court should be established against preparations for genocide and the convicted be exiled to west of Rhone or east of the Urals.

f. Sovereignity

It is obvious that the proposals above are  an interference with the sovereignity of the Baltic states in question. But does sovereignity give the right for a number of selfwilled men to set the whole of Europe on fire?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fight the extremists, not the Talibans.

August 15, 2009

 

Let us imagine the following. Due to some serious terrorist actions, foreign troops are forced to invade the US. Which then would lead to the least  casualties among invaders as well as US civilians: Attacking the “moral majority” or attacking the extremists groups?

 

If the invaders  limit themselves to attacks on extremists or interfering , in addition, with the court system.

 

Bringing in foreign aid workers and businessmen of the same nationality as the major invading forces or limiting the presence of foreign civilians to the minimum as much as possible.

 

Please keep this scenario in mind while we discuss the following questions.

 

First – why is the West in Afghanistan at all?  What are Western war aims? Or to put it differently, in what way does Western presence in Afghanistan make sense?

 

Second-What is the situation in Afghanistan?

 

Third- What is the nature of the Western Presence in Afghanistan?

 

Fourth-What makes the Western Presence unnecessarily disruptive in Afghanistan, supporting the extremists and causing avoidable damage to civilians and to the Western forces.

 

Fifth – How should the Western Forces react to the different factors in Afghanistan?

 

 

  

A.     Why is the West in Afghanistan at all? What are the Western war aims? Or to put it differently: is there any way that the Western presence in Afghanistan makes sense?

 

The drug trade, denial of women’s rights, the establishment of the Muslim laws  called the sharia, oppression of citizens. All these occur, more or less, in countries without any Western military presence and often allied with the West.

 

How is Afghanistan different?

 

a.      It has a government which does not control its own territory or even its own bureacracy (the closest comparison is former South Vietnam)

b.      The risk of an extremist takeover (not a Taliban-they are already there) is great.

c.       In addition the government itself is in danger of being taken over by drug dealers and turning into a narco state.

 

The West is there to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a global danger by being a safe shelter for global terrorists. But the ones paying the price for global security are the Afghan people.

 

Therefore the only Western war aim that makes  any sense is to prevent the extremists from gaining control of Afghan territory.

 

B. What is the situation in Afghanistan?

 

Think of a series of dials. A big one for Afghanistan as a whole. Smaller ones for each province.  At the far left of each dial are the extremists (10%), next we have the very conservative and devout rural and small town population(40%),  then rightward we have the ones just trying to make a living and and getting along with the power that be, tolerating Western benefits  with (health care  and  women’s schools) and Western habits (rock, Western movies, Western dress) in various degrees the more you move rightward(30%). Then you have the Western modernizers who fully accept Western ideals (10%). Finally you have the drug dealers, war lords and gangsters at the far right (10%).Don’t get caught in the percentages – they are approximate and change as the needle moves. The needle is the current situation in Afghanistan based on what people think, how they act, and how the local leadership changes.

 

This means that it is not only  possible but necessary to negotiate with local Taliban leaders.  Depending on the position of the needle ,  the treaties will hold or not. However if they are broken  then it is back to the negotiating table again. Outrage will not solve anything but perseverance will give a breathing spell for ordinary Afghans to get on with their lives and  join to improve their society. It is this civil action that is the hope of Afghanistan.

 

 

        C.  What is the nature of the Western presence in Afghanistan?

 

The Western presence is that of foreign invaders with an alien culture whom the Afghan people did not ask  to intervene. The extremists are nearly all Afghans, bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh. That is the great advantage that they have.

On the other hand the extremists are fanatics who push the envelope till it pops.

The  great advantage of the Western forces is that the extremists run their territories so badly that even Western invaders are tolerated. Until the West in turn screws up so badly that the needle swings back again.  It  is important to note that the West is now engaged in a ground war in Asia, something which one Western general after another has warned against from General Eisenhower on down.

 

   D.      What makes the Western presence unnecessarily disruptive in           Afghanistan and and plays into the hands of the extremists?

 

i.                    Carpetbaggers.

 

These can be put under the following headings. Businessmen trying to exploit the weakness and corruption of the Afghan government to make money.

“Idealists?” claiming to help but in reality trying to impose their private agenda on the Afghans using the Western military presence and Afghan economic weakness.

 

What is the price in wayside bombs and bullets in the dark that justifies the presence of these?

 

I propose that nationals from the major contingents serving in Afghanistan (with the exception of journalists) be barred. Martyred Afghanistan is not to be a playground for economic and ideological hustlers. As for the citizens from smaller countries, their presence ought to be discouraged unless the Afghan government insists on their presence. Even their    help costs too much in paving the way for local extremists.

 

ii.                  Atrocities

 

On the face of it there is a military necessity for air attacks and artillery fire where civilians and their livelihod are at risk.  And there are no risks to the ones ordering it– charge it to the taxpayer. The risks are borne by the men in the field who are the targets of those avenging their martyred dead.

 

I propose the following, either separately or in combination for a trial period of six months:

 

a.  Air attacks and artillery fire as usual but a reduction of one pay grade for the officer ordering it.

 

b.  An board of inquiry for every such event, evaluating the necessity, the effect and eventual errors.

 

As it is now, bombing the wrong village or for inadequate reasons is written off as a mishap and these mishaps keep happening because there is no interest in correcting them.

 

                     If after 6 months (or earlier if there is a sharp casualty rise due to these restrictions)  there  is no increase in military casualties traced to these restrictions then they should remain.

 

       E.   How to minimize Western distruption of life in Afghanistan?

 

                a. Compensation for loss of life and property   

 

 

Any loss of life or property (read livelihood and shelter) due to Western military action should be compensated in a way that puts the money into the hands of the sufferers and not parcelled out through a corrupt bureaucracy.

That extremists use the civilian population as shields is totally irrelevant. They are Afghans, the Westerners are invaders and the extremists would not use the civilians as shields if the Westerners weren’t attacking them. (OK this means that the extremists are literally getting away with murder, but that is not the point.)The point is the reaction of the victims and their neighbors (see section B )

 

  b.  Establish an agricultural support program.

 

            It is important that this does not interfere with normal market procedures. That   is a matter for the Afghans. The program should be confined to compensating for floods and storms on the one hand and providing affordable (not genetic modified)  seeds for the nexts season’s planting, on the other. Unfamiliar crops for which there is a local demand could also be financed this way.  It is important that this should not go through the Afghan bureaucracy.  A benchmark should be set up for when the program should be phased out, otherwise it will always be “needed”.

 

c.  A pension plan for seniors who survived the Sovjet invasion

 

                    For many years the Afghans fought the Soviets. Their resistance was one of the major reasons for the fall of the Sovjet empire. Most of the survivors have died of privations or from the subsequent unrest.

 

   I suggest: That the West pays a modest monthly pension to Afghan senior citizens in those districts that have a functioning girl’s school and women’s medical clinic. That the payment gets into the hands of the poverty stricken population and not sticking to somebody’s palm. 

 

To sum up: Resist the extremists, negotiate with the local Talibans time and time again, limit  the carpetbaggers, cooperate with the government at arm’s length, and prepare a sensible exit strategy for Afghanistan.