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05 August 2005

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BadTux

The question is whether making the Muslim population feel even more marginized than they already feel will be effective in dealing with Islamic extremism. The most effective way to deal with extremism of any sort is to remove the sea in which extremism swims. Much as the violent black extremism of the American cities in the late 1960's was defeated primarily by making better efforts to integrate blacks into the modern economy, including housing rights laws and feel-good programs such as affirmative action which allowed blacks for the first time to feel they had equal rights as Americans and an equal chance in the job marketplace, no matter how ineffective they really were at their stated purpose... psychology is sometimes more important than effectiveness.

Unless you are going to embark upon a Stalinesque or approach to the problem and simply exterminate the ethnic minority or deport them to Siberia, a combination of a stick-and-carrot approach works best in these kinds of situations. The ability to have your citizenship arbitrarily stripped from you upon the findings of a single magistrate in a court in which you and your solicitor is not allowed to view the evidence against you is hardly conducive to making people feel as if they're truly British. Rather, it simply reinforces the notion that they are second-class citizens, not "really" British. It simply furthers the breeding ground for extremism.

We all know how effective these tactics were against the Provos. The more Irish Catholics were terrorized by British troops, the more radical they became, and the more support the Provos had in their ethnic community. Thirty years of attempts to destroy the Provisional IRA were utterly futile. The recent decision of the Provos to unilaterally disarm happens during an era where the British Army have virtually abandoned Northern Ireland to its own resources due to overseas commitments. In other words, *less* repression led to *less* violence. Hmm...

Carrot and stick requires a carrot, and requires judicious use of the stick (i.e., only where it's absolutely necessary). Otherwise it just plain doesn't work unless you're prepared to exterminate the ethnic population in question.

-B

ismoot

Bad Tux

We probably are not going to agree on this. Over many years of study and life among Muslim populations I have become convinced that the essential motivaion in Jihadism is sui generis in nature resulting from a certain kind of world view which posits a basic opposition between Islam and the rest of the world and which resents deeply the power of the West. Most Muslims feel that opposition but only a relative few are motivated by the preaching of activists to act upon it.

The determinist point of view does not impress me in this matter and I have looked at it a lot.

Additionally, I think you would have a difficult time supportin your argument with the biographies of the identified suicider Jihadis in the events of the last few years.

You might want to look at Marc Sageman's recent book on this subject. pl

BadTux

There will always be radicals. There are radicals here in the United States too. I can show you web sites of white supremicists who call the U.S. government the "Zionist Occupation Government" and debate how to overthrow ZOG. The question is how to deal with radicals, not whether radicals exist. The way we've typically dealt with radicals here in the United States has been a carrot-and-stick approach -- i.e. insuring that we were the "Land of Opportunity" so that anybody who bought into the system and worked hard, participated in society, etc. was insured a fairly decent life, and at the same time using FBI and police forces to infiltrate the radicals' organizations and neutralize them before they could do harm.

But the latter approach only works if you can identify the radicals -- i.e., if you have removed the ocean (the mass of supporters) and they're flapping around on the open shoreline like fish out of water. White supremicists here in the United States, for example, have very little support -- as the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombings showed. Timothy McVeigh thought his action would incite the final revolt to overthrow the "Zionist Occupation Government". Instead, people were absolutely disgusted, and the effort to uncover him was made much simpler by the fact that there was no ocean of supporters who agreed with his cause. If there had been such an ocean of supporters -- if, for example, he could have borrowed that truck from a supporter (who would then report it "stolen") or the owner of that rental truck outlet had been a supporter and thus gave inaccurate info about who rented the truck -- McVeigh very likely would have gotten away with it and spawned many more McVeighs. Instead, McVeigh has been executed, his few supporters jailed or cowed, and America is, for the moment, safe from the spectre of widespread violent domestic extremism.

As for my "peculiar notions", I am not fixated on the supposed exceptionalism of Islamic extremism, but, rather, am looking at what has actually worked both in the United States and elsewhere. A pragmatic two-pronged approach perhaps seems rather outre in today's environment of hysteria and knee-jerk reactionism, but is in the end the only thing that has proven to work, time after time after time.

We are, in the end, simply primates with too-big foreheads and delusions of grandeur and a million years of monkey instinct under our belts. A 1500 year old religious tradition does not, in the end, trump a million years of evolution that has programmed us biologically to respond to the carrot-and-stick approach.

- Badtux the Pragmatic

ismoot

Bad Tux

In this case the radicals are deadly. There quite a lot of them and they are utterly irreconcilable to us. pl

BadTux

What was Timothy McVeigh -- a limp noodle? Are you saying that our own home-grown radicals could not be just as deadly as Islamic radicals, if they had popular support to allow them to freely operate? With all due respect, the 168 people that he killed in Oklahoma City would disagree with you. If there had been widespread popular support for McVeigh's notions of a Zionist Occupation Government and the need to take action against it, the death toll from exploding truck bombs nationwide could have made September 11 look like a walk in the park.

Extremists are extremists, and, as you state, you can't change their mind. But what you can do is neutralize them by making sure they have no popular support and by infiltrating their movement big-time. One FBI guy that I met jokingly said that the majority of the local militia in Arizona was in the pay of the FBI as informants, i.e., we kept very close tabs on these guys... only because McVeigh operated alone was he able to do his terrorist act. And there's only so much that one lone nutcase operating alone can do. Though even that can be deadly enough, as McVeigh proved.

ismoot

Bad Tux

Sorry, but I am not interested in the general phenomenon of terrorism or the usual truisms about "the fish in the sea' or "draining the swamp." I read all those books in the sixties also and then lived through the experience of their application in a number of places.

What I am interested in is the phenomenon of Islamic Jihadism. It is true that they, like all other resistance groups, require some support, but the numbers of people necesary to make a really serious attack are so amall that the required support base is correspondingly tiny.

There are probably not more than a few thousand active fully committed Jihadis. They are not motivated by a sense of social injustice. They are motivated by a sense of historical and theological outrage. They are a discreet target set and can be eliminated. pl

BadTux

"They are a discreet target set and can be eliminated."

Indeed. And this must be done because, as you say, they are not changing their minds. But first you must find them. And finding them amongst millions of sympathisers is no small task. Isolate them by removing their popular support, and they are bitter helpless voices like the right-wing extremists muttering about 'Zionist Occupation Government' over their beers in the local biker bar. Then they become much, MUCH easier to find and neutralize...

ismoot

Bad Tux

What needs to be done is to penetrate these groups. Popular support for our effort would be convenient but not essential to that effort. pl

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