Tags: Donald Trump | Middle East | War on Terrorism | interventions | radicals | recruit

Undermine New Terrorism by Destroying Its Credibility

Undermine New Terrorism by Destroying Its Credibility
In this Feb. 18, 2015 file photo, taken in Washington, D.C., Hodan Hassan, left, of Save the Children U.S., and Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame participate in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Pilot Program presentation during the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. More than a year and a half after it was announced, federal efforts have been slow. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

By Tuesday, 27 June 2017 03:38 PM Current | Bio | Archive

We can't prevent all terrorist attacks, it being impossible to harden all targets. But two general strategies could minimize the new terrorism.

First, we must refrain from helping those who recruit terrorists. Yuval Harari explained on March 1 of this year, in Huffpost, how terror-meisters have manipulated us, "In a way, a terrorist is like a fly that tries to destroy a china shop. The fly is so small and weak. It cannot move even a single teacup. So how does a fly destroy a china shop? The fly finds a bull, gets into the ear of the bull and starts buzzing. The bull becomes so enraged that it loses its temper and destroys the china shop.  . . .  Al-Qaeda could never destroy Iraq by itself. It got into the ear of the United States and the United States went wild and destroyed the Middle Eastern china shop for al-Qaida."

In other words 9/11 goaded us into invading Afghanistan and Iraq, disorganizing these countries and creating leadership voids into which Osama Bin Laden hoped to step. And we fell for it! Since bad regimes we overthrow are always replaced by worse ones or by terrorist-friendly vacuums, we need to cut way back or even end our military interventions in the Mideast. The less our forces are engaged in Islamic countries, the harder it will be for terror-meisters to recruit home grown radicals in the U.S. and the lower their interest in sending in terrorists.

Secondly, we must discredit mentalities which render potential terrorists vulnerable to recruitment, emphasizing that trying to achieve political goals (or anything else) "at any price" is crazy. We must proclaim the foolishness of exaggerating the importance of politics and believing the world would be a utopia if it had a particular political system. Such a wonderful benefit always outweighs any conceivable costs. Utopias being impossible, society pays the price of trying to get there but never gets the promised benefits.

Terrorist recruiters often invoke religion, whether or not they believe in it themselves. To help people resist recruitment, we should disseminate widely the wonderful children's poem by John Godfrey Saxe, "The Blind Men and the Elephant." Each blind savant, trying to determine the elephant's nature, grabs hold of a different part of it and extrapolates his limited tactile experience to the whole animal. The poem concludes with the six wise men in total disagreement about the elephant, much as believers in different religions disagree about the nature and will of an invisible God:

"And so these men of Indostan

"Disputed loud and long,

"Each in his own opinion

"Exceeding stiff and strong.

"Though each was partly in the right,

"And all were in the wrong!"

Translating poetry is difficult, and I don't know if this poem has been translated into Arabic, but it would be good if someone could do it.

By analogy, the poem counsels caution in being too certain about religious ideas, especially claims of monopolistic understanding of God. Thomas Hobbes' comment in "The Leviathan" also speaks to this, "If Livy says the gods once made a cow speak, and we believe him not, we disbelieve not God therein, but Livy."

People interested in becoming a terrorist should be asked if they believe in reincarnation. If they say no, ask how sure they are. It is, of course, impossible to be sure, and they should be warned that if reincarnation happens a totally just deity might bring back terrorists as one of their own victims. What if the Golden Rule —  "Do to others what you want them to do to you" . . . (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31) — is a literal description of reality? An economist could call such reincarnation "internalizing the externalities." Non-economists might simply call it divine justice.

Responding to recent attacks in London, President Donald Trump tweeted, "If we don't get smart it will only get worse." Yes, we do need to get smart.

Paul F. deLespinasse is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Computer Science at Adrian College. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1966, and has been a National Merit Scholar, an NDEA Fellow, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and a Fellow in Law and Political Science at the Harvard Law School. His college textbook, "Thinking About Politics: American Government in Associational Perspective," was published 1981 and his most recent book is "The Case of the Racist Choir Conductor: Struggling With America's Original Sin." His columns have appeared in newspapers in Michigan, Oregon, and a number of other states. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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We need to cut way back or even end our military interventions in the Mideast. The less our forces are engaged in Islamic countries, the harder it will be for terror-meisters to recruit home grown radicals in the U.S. and the lower their interest in sending in terrorists.
interventions, radicals, recruit
Tuesday, 27 June 2017 03:38 PM
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