Friday, September 10, 2004

Terrorism and Causes

A weakened al Qaida is at least something.

The Guardian:
...the centre of gravity has shifted from a weakened al-Qaida to far-flung associated groups such as Jemaah Islamiya.
and Rohan Gunaratna:
The vast majority of terrorist actions are today conducted not by al-Qa'ida, which has been severely weakened, but by its associated groups and Jemaah Islamiah is symbolic of that category of groups.
One problem with No Right Turn's strategy is what happens when terrorist demands are completely unacceptable.

Australia has been targeted by bin Laden for, amongst other things, its support of East Timor's independence. While there is disagreement amongst liberals over Iraq I doubt whether anyone is advocating throwing East Timor back to the wolves just to placate Jemaah Islamiah.

I recall reading that it was Margaret Thatcher's strong military campaign against the IRA that convinced people such as Gerry Adams that the IRA could not get what they wanted through violence. Although the Catholics of Northern Ireland had legitimate grievances, their demand for a united Ireland was never going to be acceptable.

While I have a basic sympathy for the "root causes" argument, in that there are issues of ethnic/religious nationalism at that heart of much terrorism which need to be resolved eventually through political process, there are dynamics in such circumstances that often demand military force. And the root cause argument fails to explain all terrorism - The Red Brigades and Baader Mienhof, and on occasion the lack of terrorism - the ANC struggle against apartheid was relatively clean.

One thing I am certain about is how ridiculous this piece by Naomi Klein is:
First Bush, and now Putin, have picked up lessons for their wars on terror from Israel's campaign against the Palestinians
Now Putin is a Likudnik. Its "dissent" by numbers.

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