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Middle Eastern Terrorism:Thoughts on Cause,Source,Deterrence

 
 
timberlandko
 
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Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 04:15 pm
I know its a "slippery slope" thing, CdK ... that's part and parcel of the magnitude of the problem. Just where do you "Draw the line"? Who defines "The Line" ... I would, however, have little objection to the active, vigorous disuasion by lethal means of the organizers, the principals, of terrorist activity. The leaders, not the followers, are the real source of the problem. Discover them, eliminate them. Without the Bin Ladens and Arafats, the guy-in-the-street won't don an explosive vest and take out a market square.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 04:19 pm
I hasten to add that to end the injustices, to provide education, opportunity, and security to the peoples who spawn the terrorists is the long-term key, but it is pointless to discuss redecorating while the immediate matter at hand is the fire consuming the house.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 04:25 pm
But what do you have against arrest? In *almost* all cases in which lethal force can be employed the neutralization of said terrorists can be achieved through non-lethal means.

Being a fan of due process I don't like to see it flouted as a policy but rather only out of necessity. I note that almost any time such a policy is sunk to the slippery slope becomes quite real of an issue. Tergeting becomes less rigourously justified and the means soon become sloppy as well.

I think this is paramount because IMO one of the finest lines of defense against terrorism is the moral highground. Terrorism is similar to such policy in that it abdicates acceptavle morals for the purpose of a cause. If in the fight against terrorism one is too eager to reciprocate in kind I feel it takes much away from the moral high ground and ends up helping the terrorists.

To cite a quick example I do not believe that Palestinian terrorists would ahve as much support at home or abroad if it weren't for laspes in Israeli judgement.
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fishin
 
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Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 04:26 pm
Those types of solutions aren't new Craven. The US and most of Europe used a "we will not negotiate with terrorists" idea as standard official policy for decades. Of course to a large extent that was the public face put on and then there was a lot of covert activity behind the scenes. A lot of people have argued that those behind the scenes activities are what emboldened a lot of the terrorist groups of the 1970s/1980s.

When Bin Laden talks about the CIA's transgressions this is a lot of what he is referring to. The CIA DID deal with terrorists and Bin Laden in particular. Governments were negotiating with him over the years right up until 9/11.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 04:45 pm
I'm not talking about negotiations or the lack of them. I'm talking about the abdication of one's own morals in dealing with terrorists. Not negotiating with terrorists is not a breach of the type I refer to.

I refer to the assasination as a policy, coupled with a low standard when determining targets and further exacerbated by the willingness to use methods that ensure more collateral damage than targeted damage. I'm talking about following a guy around until you know where he will be and then planting a bomb in an alley. One would conclude that such a level of intimacy with the target and the ability to assasinate him while he walks alone in an alley is indicative of an ability to put him in a van and make an arrest.

When such policy is used it seems that a vengeful desire has become more important than the objective of eliminating terror. Sometimes such policies seem to indicate a bloodlust on the part of those who fight the already bloodthirsty terrorists.

In my opinion when it's avoidable it's not a good idea to lose moral highground. I consider moral highground a tool and one that people seem too willing to give up.

Incidentally I strongly disagree that the covert dealings have had much of an effect on modern terror.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 04:48 pm
A very good argument, CdK ... one of which I am aware, and by which I am somewhat perplexed. The question is vexing to say the least, and much more given to reactive, emotional response than contemplative, solution-oriented examination. Both terrorism and the usual countering responses to terrorism feed one another, as so tragically evidenced in the endless go-rounds in the Israeli-Palestinian debacle.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 04:59 pm
Damn ... I'm running a couple responses behind, here ...

Sure, I'd say arresting a leader would be preferable to offing him ... IF it could be accomplished safely. A cadre of heavilly armed bodyguards pretty much guarantees a firefight, though. A sniper a thousand yards away can take out the principal without endangering any more than the primary target itself, perhaps at the risk of splattering a bit of blood onto the clothing of the nominated deceased's coterie. I think more high ground is given up by using a couple air-launched missles to take out the principal and whoever else shares the vehicle conmtaining said principal, along with a few assorted bystanders. Sort of "Assymetric Warfare" in reverse.

I do not share your dismissal of negotiations and other dealings with terrorists as being factors in the recent upswelling of the phenomonon ... in fact, I see them as critical contributory components.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 05:28 pm
I'd noted your advocacy of the use of sniping. The thing is, I find that there is no loss of moral highground if there is the feared firefight. I have absolutely no qualm with the many militants Isreal has killed while resisting arrest.

I do have a bone to pick about the use of gunships and such. I do not believe that the intel so routinely does not know of the children of the terrorists being in the vehicle etc. Past history would also suggest that they know the likelihood of significant collateral damage when firing missles into dense urban areas as well.

That they did not actively target innocents is, to me, an excuse that loses a large amount of its validity when reckless methods are employed.

I have a question, I'm glad you consider an arrest preferable (there are clearly those who don't and i think vengance plays a greater part in their ratiocination than does the objective at hand). But my question is about the safety factor you reference.

Do you mean safety for the combatants or to the bystanders? By that I mean do you prefer assasination as a policy to keep one's own soldiers from harm? Personally I'd prefer not to cede moral highground simply to ensure lessened causualties on one's side (especially if there is a direct correlation with increased civilian causalty on te opposite side). If in an arrest there is a good chance of a firefight do you advocate a shoot-first policy?

And as to the issue of the negotiations, how do you see it as crucial? It it the basic "rewarding" argument? I have considered this many times and I have yet to see a correlation. It seems that many terrorists are of such a mentality that success and the ultimate objectives become less important as their cycle spirals downward.

I also note that many terrorists themselves are the most adamant rejectors of negotiation.

Both fishin' and yourself have pointed to negotiation as a cause, I'd like to know why because I see inflexibility on this point as one of the greatest reasons that some conflicts are drawn out. If terrorists are seeking negotiations (such as, say, some neat "new" weapons) then I'd agree that capitulating might encourage.

But what of the many terrorist groups who seek no negotiations at all? In the Mid-East conflict the hardest groups to get to the table are the very terrorists.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 06:50 pm
Woulda been back to this sooner, but my Internet Connection went down ... the joys of rural living. I s'pose I'm lots of replies behind now.

Craven de Kere wrote:
... I do have a bone to pick about the use of gunships and such. I do not believe that the intel so routinely does not know of the children of the terrorists being in the vehicle etc. Past history would also suggest that they know the likelihood of significant collateral damage when firing missles into dense urban areas as well.

That they did not actively target innocents is, to me, an excuse that loses a large amount of its validity when reckless methods are employed.
Agreed ... very sloppy

I
Quote:
have a question, I'm glad you consider an arrest preferable (there are clearly those who don't and i think vengance plays a greater part in their ratiocination than does the objective at hand). But my question is about the safety factor you reference.

Do you mean safety for the combatants or to the bystanders? By that I mean do you prefer assasination as a policy to keep one's own soldiers from harm? Personally I'd prefer not to cede moral highground simply to ensure lessened causualties on one's side (especially if there is a direct correlation with increased civilian causalty on te opposite side). If in an arrest there is a good chance of a firefight do you advocate a shoot-first policy?

It is precisely the danger presented to uninvolved non-combatants/Civilians of either side to which I object. There is an accepted implied risk attached to being in the military, a risk unreasonable to impose on civilians.
Quote:
And as to the issue of the negotiations, how do you see it as crucial? It it the basic "rewarding" argument? I have considered this many times and I have yet to see a correlation. It seems that many terrorists are of such a mentality that success and the ultimate objectives become less important as their cycle spirals downward.

I sense that terrorists perceive any willingness on the part of their target entity to enter into dialog as a sign of weakness, encouraging further depredation. By adopting terrorist measures, the adherents reject reason; one cannot reason with the unreasonable.

Quote:
I also note that many terrorists themselves are the most adamant rejectors of negotiation.
You just can't reason with the unreasonable. The presentation of non-negotiable demands, the absolutism of their position, renders dialog profitless other than as it may be seen by the terrorists a sign their methods are working ... "Give 'em and inch, they'll try to take a mile", so to speak

Quote:
Both fishin' and yourself have pointed to negotiation as a cause, I'd like to know why because I see inflexibility on this point as one of the greatest reasons that some conflicts are drawn out. If terrorists are seeking negotiations (such as, say, some neat "new" weapons) then I'd agree that capitulating might encourage.

But what of the many terrorist groups who seek no negotiations at all? In the Mid-East conflict the hardest groups to get to the table are the very terrorists.
Absolutely agreed. They will not converse or compromise, they seek no reconcilliation or raproachment, they proclaim "Victory or death". Fine. As their "Victory" is not a mutually acceptable option, there remains but one equitable choice.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 08:00 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:
Both fishin' and yourself have pointed to negotiation as a cause, I'd like to know why because I see inflexibility on this point as one of the greatest reasons that some conflicts are drawn out. If terrorists are seeking negotiations (such as, say, some neat "new" weapons) then I'd agree that capitulating might encourage.

But what of the many terrorist groups who seek no negotiations at all? In the Mid-East conflict the hardest groups to get to the table are the very terrorists.


Groups wanting negotiations for things like weapons or cash is the starting point. The end game for these groups is political power.

By entering into negotiation the terrorist's cause and methods are validated. If you capitulate to one then when the next terrorist group wants your attention they follow in the footsteps of their predecessor. Also, whatever is negotiated becomes just one item in a never ending list. The terrorists just continue to blackmail the negotiating country for more and more things.

Terrorists in the Middle East are hard to get to the table because they have no interest in negotiating with the US. The US isn't their end goal. They want control of the Mid-East.

Just to use the Palestine/Israel example one more time, the primary desire of the Palestinian terrorists is to get the Israeli government to recognize them as the legitimate represenatives of the Palestinian people. They couldn't care less if the US or anyone else is involved as long as they are at the table with the Israeli government. Once they at that table they can go back to the West Bank, Gaza, etc.. and claim political control over the fate of the Palestinian people. They can go back and say that the Israeli government won't deal with anyone but them and only they can bring an end to the wars and the average Palestinian would see them sitting at the table with Sharon, etc.. on TV and in the newspapers. Who would they believe has the power to end the conflict in their area? People would throw their supprt behind whomever is at the table in the hopes of ending their own suffereing. In effect the terrorists then become the defacto government of Palestine.

Israel negotiating with Hezbollah would seem to be a minor concession but the ramifications of doing so would be huge for the entire region.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 08:09 pm
fishin', you appear to see the issue in much the same terms as do I ... are we wholly in concert here, or do you differ with some particular or other among my postulations and observations?
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 08:32 pm
I dunno Timber. There is a lot to the whole issue and we've only grazed the surface! In general I think we're pretty much on the same page though. Smile
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 09:09 pm
speaking of negotiating from power, lets suppose at some point immediately prior to or during the invasion of Iraq and a message say via China came to the coalititon of the willing offering a complete cessation and capitualion of Saddam's regime,with Saddam taking exile, would that have ended the war? or was the war necessary as a symbolic gesture to the world community of the Bush administration?
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 09:21 pm
Yeah, as far as we've gotten into the matter, I had the impression you and I were very close in position. I dunno that CdK is alltogether just playing "Devil's Advocate" here; I think he really does disagree in principle. I gotta say that I see ANY accomodation of Terrorists as capitulation to them, a de facto legitimization of their heinous methodology. I know I propose a ruthless response, albeit a focussed, sharply defined response. I really see no other logical way to respond to their tactic of indiscriminate civilian slaughter. The only way to discourage them, as I see it, is to place the cost of their tactic beyond their means. Civilization is nothing if not a construct of laws. Those laws must encompass remedy against those who reject the laws of civilized behavior. Yes, the problems of poverty, disenfranchisement, and despair of the oppressed must be addressed. Those who foment Terrorism, the powers and leaders and educators and clerics BEHIND the bombers and hijackers and kidnappers et al are the chief impediments to addressing and resolving the underlying issues. If progress is to be made, it is only to be made without The Instigators. I see them, The Instigators of Terrorism, as the avowed enemies of Civilization, and thus they become the legitimate targets of Civilization. One does not rid a society of Organized Crime by rounding up prostitutes, junkies, and gamblers; one goes after the kingpins, the overlords, the bosses. If the bosses, once identified and duly indicted, refuse to submit to arrest, or position themselves in such manner as to endanger innocents as means of shielding themselves from arrest, then, clearly, means of redress other than arrest are called for. As I mentioned earlier, if the Terrorist's Bosses hold to "Victory or Death", they've made their choice and must be granted the full weight of the consequences of their chosen position ... with as little collateral consequence to the uninvolved as may be practicable. Drop the suckers where they stand, and offer to pay for cleaning the clothes of the resultantly blood-splattered, otherwise uninvolved, bystanders
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2003 09:25 pm
Dyslexia, Saddam's departure from power and from Iraq by or before a time certain was clearly stated as THE condition that would have forestalled the attack. The deadline passed, the attack went forward.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 07:01 am
Timber - I'd guess that if I were forced to draw a distinction I'd say I'm more conservative on the "taking them out" aspect. Craven's point about the moral high ground isn't off-base and sending out hit squads to knock these terrorists off is a quick way to loose any moral advantage. I think there may be an appropriate time/place for "terminating with prejudice" but I'd be unwilling to participate in crossing that line more because of the precedent it would set than anything else. If we can justify a "hit" on Bin Laden we could just as easily justify a hit on the average 1st level operative.

I think we also have to be careful about equating terrorism and other types of criminal activity. The terrorist's end goal is political power. The mob boss's objective is either money or power through sheer submission but it is always based in pure self-interest. While both terrorists and syndicated crime are involved in some of the same types of activites their motivations make them very different beasts to deal with.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 07:58 am
timberlandko, while of course you might be right and the coalition would have accepted a cease fire, i offer the opinion that differs, Rumsfelt stated numerous times ""We have no plans for pauses or ceasefires." without qualifications. when Saudi Arabia suggested that Saddam step aside and remove himself for Iraq in exchange for a cease fire, the Bush/Rumsfled did not even acknowledge the possibility. I offer the view that Bush et al deemed the invasion and continued occupation as a given regardless of the status of Saddam. The reason i mention this on this topic is that I see similiarities with current situation in the Israel/Palestine conflict in that Israel is demanding that the Palestinians hand over all weapons before proceeding with continued negotiations for the "road map." from the point of view of the Palestinians, this is a no-win proposiston by asking them to disarm in the face of an Israel army that would then have absolute (rather than just overwhelming) military superiority, which would leave the Palestinians with only more devasting acts of terrorism as their only perceived defense. I am suggesting that, not unlike the Iraq occupation of brute force, this can only lead to further hostilities of more and more un-civil acts of terrorism both against the coalition forces in Iraq and the Israel forces in the Palestine/Israel conflict. It seems quite clear to me, that international ie UN peace-keeping forces are needed in both Iraq and Palestine rather than peace thru domination. But thats just my opinion, I may be wrong.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 08:10 am
Two excellent points, fishin' and they expose the logical flaws that mar the emotional satisfaction of my "Solution". How indeed does one distinguish between a Bin Laden, a Saddam, or some other key, pivotal leader, and a functionary? What criteria would be used, and by whom would such distinction be made? What possible safeguards could make the determination infallible? In the real world, more considerations than mere convention and nicety prevent civil law enforcement from out-of-hand terminating key crime figures, and in the real world those same considerations provide refuge to terrorists. BTW - IMHO, Terrorists are nothing more than criminals seeking to gain political advantage; I really do not see as much, if any, difference between them and violent, organized criminals. Civilization is indeed a construct of laws, laws which, while just, necessary, and absolute, restrict the available responses to Terrorism. That fact in itself is one of the weapons of Terrorism.
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Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 10:59 am
Craven - I believe that a lack of military ability is a secondary consideration. First, a group has to believe it has no avenue of peaceful redress for its problem. It is only then that they begin to consider non-peaceful solutions. At this point, attacking innocents is generally far less costly to them than attacking military targets, so they choose civilian targets. While Timber offers us an extreme example, it is one way to raise the opportunity cost of terrorism. Another, more palatable one (for me at least), is simply to make it known that the world community will hunt down and either kill or capture anyone engaging in terrorism. I wonder whether there might also be a way to effectively take the terrorists' issue off the table for a period of time; say "not only are we going to hunt down the perpetrators, but they have set back your cause by turning to terrorism in its name".

At the same time we need to lower the opportunity cost of peaceful methods of redress. (!!!) We need to both take away the tool they should not choose AND give them others so that they feel they have options that perhaps they previously did not.
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Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2003 11:16 am
Craven de Kere wrote:
But what do you have against arrest? In *almost* all cases in which lethal force can be employed the neutralization of said terrorists can be achieved through non-lethal means.

I'm fine with capturing or killing them; that's up to the terrorists.

Craven de Kere wrote:
Being a fan of due process I don't like to see it flouted as a policy but rather only out of necessity. I note that almost any time such a policy is sunk to the slippery slope becomes quite real of an issue. Tergeting becomes less rigourously justified and the means soon become sloppy as well.

What specific due process is a terrorist entitled to? Under what law? (I'm not saying there is none; I'm genuinely at a loss as to what it is in this specific case.)

Craven de Kere wrote:
I think this is paramount because IMO one of the finest lines of defense against terrorism is the moral highground.

I'm inclined to disagree with you here. Terrorists believe they inhabit the moral high ground. Arguing that we do is just a way of entering into the debate they wish us to have. How "moral" our response is may shape world opinion, but not if we persuade the world that NOTHING EVER justifies turning to terrorism.

Craven de Kere wrote:
To cite a quick example I do not believe that Palestinian terrorists would ahve as much support at home or abroad if it weren't for laspes in Israeli judgement.

Those who support Palestinian terrorists either find a moral equivalence between targeting and murdering children and unfortunate collateral casualties lost taking targets of opportunity, or they simply fail to think at all. Either way, I am not of a mind to hamstring the fight against global terrorism by even considering the thoughts or feelings of such people as these. I agree that the Israelis have made mistakes, but those mistakes were responses to despicable, atrocious actions taken against them. I doubt I would do any less to protect my wife, my children, my home.

Our message needs to be clear and unwavering: terrorism will profit no one. We must eschew discussion of the root causes of terrorism and turn our attention to considering what root causes are required to end it.
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