NOTES FROM THE QED ROUNDTABLE

ALTERNATIVES TO VENGEANCE – CONSIDERED RESPONSES

Held at the Overseas Development Institute, 111 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1

28th September 2015, 11am – 2pm

 

 

 

PANEL:    Dr Sultan Barakat, Director, Post-War Reconstruction and Development Unit (PRDU), York University

                  Chris Buckley, Afghanistan Programme Officer, Christian Aid

                  Chris Dolan, Conflict Researcher, ACORD

                  Nicola Reindorp, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

                  Kevin Clements, Secretary General, International Alert

 

 

PURPOSE OF THE MEETING:

To bring together representatives from development and conflict transformation NGOs, academia, freelancers and others to discuss and reflect on options, alternatives and policies:

-       the situation following the attacks in New York and Washington;

-       responses from the UK development and peacebuilding community;

-       the key messages;

-       the implications for development and conflict work in general; and

-       what we can do - together and individually.

 

 

SUMMARY OF PANEL PRESENTATIONS:

 

Dr Sultan Barakat, Director, Post-War Reconstruction Unit (PRDU), York University

 

Dr Sultan Barakat is a Palestinian, is the founding Director of the Post-War Reconstruction Unit (PRDU) at York University and has extensive expertise in development, peacebuilding and post-war reconstruction, particularly in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, Palestine, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Yemen. His presentation covered a number of areas of concern, including the perception of the West in Muslim countries, the alliances that are forged by governments and humanitarian agencies in crisis situations and the role of humanitarian aid and humanitarian agencies.

 

Dr Barakat stressed the need to recognise the importance of the two issues which are crucial to understanding the varying global responses to the attacks on 11th September. Throughout much of the Middle East there is an ongoing grievance regarding the constant unrelenting plight of the Palestinians. He cautioned against allowing the events of 11th September to highjack the Palestinian cause, as it must stand as an issue on its own merit. Another issue that is of concern throughout the countries of the Middle East is the structural violence caused by the sanctions on Iraq. These twin points of shared grievance are fundamental to understanding the responses in Muslim countries internationally.

 

The West is now building alliances (‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’), which, along with the lifting of the nuclear embargo, are likely to lead to further mistrust of western policy. It is recognised that Bin Laden does not stand for Islam and the Taliban regime has few supporters. However, it is vital that justice for the acts of 11 September be sought using the principles of international law and human rights. This is essential in order to increase and maintain confidence in the international process and to gain support in Muslim countries.

 

Humanitarian agencies and others concerned with human rights, justice, development and conflict transformation need to be careful that they do not give legitimacy to the conflict by lending a humanitarian face to actions that are spontaneous and not well thought out. NGOs need to think about the impact on development and development work, including the language used (e.g. ‘crusade’) and the response in Muslim countries. Dr Barakat suggested that western agencies start a dialogue with Islamic agencies in order to better understand where they are coming from and what ‘humanitarian aid’ means to them, i.e. what they perceive that they need from western agencies.

 

Finally, Dr Barakat emphasised the importance of understanding how the west is portrayed in the Middle East in order to understand the perceptions ordinary people have of the west.

 

 

Chris Buckley, Afghanistan Programme Officer, Christian Aid

 

Chris Buckley is an Afghanistan Programme Officer for Christian Aid, has had articles published in newspapers regarding the situation in Afghanistan and is involved in the coordination of the appeal for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. He described the current situation in Afghanistan and governmental responses to the events of 11 September.

 

Prior to 11 September, the relief effort for the drought in Afghanistan was already under way. However, after 11 September agencies decided to withdraw their international staff for fear of any backlash within Afghanistan. Local staff continued to do the work but faced real constraints, including:

-       the World Food Programme stopped food supplies for a period of time and once it resumed food supplies, hauliers refused to drive in certain areas;

-       local staff who were left behind were left in a vulnerable position, facing harassment from the Taliban (NGOs need to think about the implications in such a situation where international staff have left but continue to be the ones who make the major decisions);

-       there was a decree banning the use of communication systems out of the country, preventing communication with local staff;

-       the shift of power within the country because of the movement of Taliban and other troops.

 

Although there is agreement regarding the number of refugees in Afghanistan, not enough attention is being paid to getting food to people. The majority of people who need food cannot reach the refugee camps. And there are an increased number of people affected by the drought because of the security situation.

 

Finally, with regard to the future of Afghanistan, Chris Buckley expressed concern about the speed at which international consensus emerged to remove the Taliban, without real attention to the ethnic make-up of Afghanistan, the history of the emergence of the Taliban or what the alternative would be. The Northern Alliance is from a minority ethnic group and could not, therefore, form a representative government. However, it appears that the US is backing the Northern Alliance to replace the Taliban. It is essential that the Afghan people participate in any decision regarding their future and the form of any government to replace the Taliban. Rather than duplicate the mistakes of the past (e.g. the Marshall Plan), we must learn from them in our strategies for the future of Afghanistan.

 

 

Chris Dolan, Conflict Researcher, ACORD

(presentation attached)

 

Chris Dolan is a conflict researcher at ACORD. ACORD works with people in Africa to reduce poverty and vulnerability, to help people win their basic rights and to help people cope with conflict and building peace.

 

ACORD has issued a statement regarding the 11 September events addressing some of the following issues:

-       social, economic and political exclusion are all forms of psychological violence which ultimately express themselves in violence; people subjected to exclusion become easier to divide and rule, and their opinions and emotions are easier to manipulate for strategic ends;

-       the need to address social justice, including equal treatment of citizens both in the eyes of the law and in the media, e.g. why is a life lost in Rwanda worth so much less than a life lost in the US?;

-       the fact that there is no peace without justice and that violence breeds violence;

-       polarising discourses (e.g. the use of words such as ‘civilised’ and ‘barbaric’);

-       the importance of understanding the impact of globalisation and the impact on anyone isolating themselves from globalisation.

 

The crisis has also had an effect on many African countries, shifting dynamics within countries and with their international relationships, e.g.:

-       Liberia has granted the US use of its air space, and in return has received an extension on the ban on deportations of Liberians from the US;

-       a day after offering support for rooting out terrorism but not for military action, South Africa saw its currency devalue by 30%;

-       the Prime Minister of Uganda has used the hijacking of commercial jets to justify his presidential jet;

-       in Nigeria, there were Muslim / Christian clashes in the city of Jos which resulted in the death of approximately 2000 people in the ten days following 11 September. Although mentioned in some cases as following on from the 11 September disaster, it is not officially recognised as such.

 

 

Kevin Clements, Secretary General, International Alert

(presentation attached)

 

Kevin Clements is the Secretary General of International Alert, an international conflict transformation NGO based in London. He reiterated the need to use international law to bring those responsible for the killings on 11 September to justice.

 

From an NGO perspective, the crisis has highlighted the need to examine how to deal with the terrorist threat from a non-violent perspective. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorise, frighten, generate anxiety, demonstrate heroism, awaken the masses and generate recruits to join the struggle. It, therefore, strikes at the very heart of peacebuilding and conflict resolution work. It is important to remember that most people are not evil, that terrorism is committed by a few people committed to evil acts. Terrorists operate not as part of a centralised mass movement but tend to operate in decentralised, well-funded cells. Most terrorists are socially and psychologically normal and are strongly idealistic but are economically and/or politically oppressed and have violence in their backgrounds. They are not defending their own interests but their identity. They often see their enemies as complicit in collusion: an insider who is collaborating with an outsider. They would not commit acts where they suicide unless they felt completely humiliated, culturally, politically and/or personally. Therefore, those who terrorists see as their oppressors/enemies must take some responsibility and, unless they address how they are perceived, are also complicit in the act of terrorism (e.g. the House of Saud when it allowed the US to come onto land considered sacred by Muslims during the Gulf War and was seen to have colluded with the US government). Any response to terrorism must understand these dynamics in order to be effective.

 

With regard to humanitarian NGOs, they deliver humanitarian assistance but do not generally challenge the systems in which they operate, e.g. they will make deals with the Taliban in order to deliver food. NGOs need to be aware of and address the structural sources of violence. It is important to remember that most countries do not fulfil a social contract with their citizens or provide them with security.

 

The current situation also raises a strong challenge to liberal politics. Polls say that 75-80% of people in the UK are willing to sacrifice some of their civil liberties to protect security. However, there is a real concern regarding the effect this will have on civil liberties in the long term and on the ability to debate the rights and wrongs of the decisions our governments make. There is also a concern regarding inclusion / exclusion, i.e. who are these laws designed to protect? Who will they affect?

 

Finally, the situation also raises a challenge to us to understand the nuanced differences between cultures, societies and civilisations. There is an urgent need for interfaith study and dialogue.

 

We need to challenge our work, what it means to be a citizen and use our experience for pro-justice dialogue.

 

 

Nicola Reindorp, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

 

In the response to the events of 11 September, we are once again witnessing the use and abuse of the humanitarian label and the politicisation of humanitarian aid. In Kosovo we had 'humanitarian war'; this time a 'humanitarian coalition.' Prior to September 11th, the international response to Afghans' need was inadequate. Now the funding pledges are rushing in. Politicians like the label because of its association with notions of humanity, and human dignity, independence and impartiality. But the power of humanitarianism derives from its separation from partisan politics. Humanitarian action as defined in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) must be neutral and impartial, i.e. solely based on need. Humanitarian actors have to separate themselves from the strategies of politicians, and to staunchly uphold the impartiality of their assistance. This is as much an advocacy challenge as an operational one. It is also important that the humanitarian imperative isn't lost amid the fundraising one.

 

There is also the danger that like Kosovo, the protection of civilians - a vital provision of IHL  - will be lost amid the concerns to provide assistance. Kosovo's major humanitarian challenge was in fact one of protection not

assistance but still  agencies judged their success in terms of food delivered and shelter provided, not the key challenge: protection. Although the scale of Afghans' needs for assistance is intense, this shouldn’t obscure the crisis of protection  - all too often seen as the option extra rather than the core of humanitarian activity.

 

Finally, Nicola Reindorp addressed the issue of peace and peacebuilding. In order to build peace, it is necessary to understand the logic of war. But how well do we understand the logic of war? Do we understand warlord politics and the impact of the trade in drugs and guns? And what would united peaceful Afghanistan look like? Who are its architects and leaders? Who represents the views of Afghans people? Its women? Will they be present at any future loya Jurga? ODI research shows that all too often peace building gets delegated to humanitarian actors whose role is not to build peace. Again, it is a challenge for advocacy to press governments to play their role.

 

 

 

ADDITIONAL POINTS RAISED BY PARTICIPANTS:

 

Humanitarianism

The US and the UN had the opportunity to address the situation in Afghanistan a decade ago but are only now paying attention to the humanitarian and political situation in the country. Many participants were alarmed by the sudden emergency appeal for aid in Afghanistan, when the situation is one that has been ongoing for some time and will need long-term attention.

 

In addressing the humanitarian situation, NGOs need to ensure that there is space between humanitarian aid and the military presence in and around Afghanistan and to ensure that donors do not push aid agencies into ad hoc arrangements with groups that will challenge their credibility. Aid must be matched with credible institutions.

 

 

Arms / security

Although it is recognised that arms sales exacerbate conflict, new weaponry developments continue to happen (BAE shares shot up on 12 September). There needs to be a review of US/European foreign policy and their relations with authoritarian governments.

 

Other issues that should be addressed include:

-       narco-terrorism / oil and gas pipelines;

-       exclusion including the discourse on immigration (this is an opportunity for advocacy);

-       women in Afghanistan and security.

 

Conflict transformation / civil society / globalisation

We need to come together and rise to the advocacy challenge. As has been pointed out, there are no social contracts between many governments and their citizens. It is time, therefore, for NGOs to get together, to help each other understand the causes of terrorism and the link between terrorism and globalisation. This is an opportunity to challenge globalisation and its impact. What should be the NGO role as ‘global citizens’ in holding governments and global institutions to account?

 

It was suggested that civil society organisations have been very quiet with regard to the imminence of war. Therefore, from the outside, it may look like civil society is very passive. NGOs need to examine their roles to see how they can contribute to the creation of a global civil society which stands for social justice, including looking at our own society’s responses to religious diversity and sub-groups. Polarisation currently exists, and in the current situation, xenophobia and Islamophobia are likely to increase.

 

It was also suggested that the development of personal contact with American NGOs and other American contacts is important in order to exchange information and thinking on these issues.

 

 

 

 

UPCOMING EVENTS / MEETINGS:

 

Events / meetings:

ACORD is holding a workshop on Monday 15th October to present the findings of their research project on gender and conflict and to get input from other organisations who are also working on gender and conflict. Further information is available from Judy El-Bushra at ACORD: judye acord.org.uk

 

The Royal Institute for International Affairs is holding a lecture series re terrorism, Osama bin Laden, etc (see www.riia.org.uk for topics, although meetings are open to Institute members only)

 

There is a talk at the Institute of Strategic Studies talk on 4 October 2015

 

There is a peace vigil outside Downing Street every Tuesday 6-7pm

 

13 October 2015, CND & Palestine Solidarity Campaign rally: Peace and Justice for all: Assemble 12 noon Hyde Park (Marble Arch end); March 1pm to Trafalgar Square for rally

 

Events / vigils listed on Quaker website at: www.quaker.org.uk

 

NGO meeting at BOND, 9 October 2015 to discuss the implications of the events of 11 September. For further information, contact: Richard Bennett at BOND: rbennett bond.org.uk

 

 

USEFUL PUBLICATIONS

Blowback by Chalmers Johnson

Losing Control by Paul Rogers

Responding to the World Trade Center and Pentagon Attacks – paper by Paul Rogers (on BASIC website: www.basicint.org)

 

 

WHAT QED CAN DO

-       send out report of this meeting;

-       organise follow up meetings on some of the specific topics raised at this meeting;

-       continue to send out information in general and special email newsletters;

-       post information on the QED website.

 

 

Compiled by:   Kathleen Armstrong

QED Coordinator

QED

6th Floor, Dean Bradley House

52 Horseferry Road

London  SW1P 2AF

Tel: (020) 7799 2477

Fax: (020) 7799 2458

Email: info@qed.org.uk


11 September and its implications for development NGOs

 – an ACORD perspective

 

Presentation to QED round-table, Friday 28 September 2015

Chris Dolan, ACORD

 

As an organisation we deplore the attacks of 11 September, the latest in a long history of crimes against humanity. We add our voices to the many already calling for justice to be done through due process, for without justice there can be no peace, and we appeal to all civilised leaders to demonstrate their commitment to international justice.

 

The events of 11 September have brought home to all of us the impossibility of anybody isolating themselves from the dynamics of globalisation. The response to events has also brought home to us the extent to which globalisation goes hand in hand with marginalisation and exclusion, and the extent to which these negative dynamics are fostered by polarising discourses; ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us’, ‘Muslim-Christian’, ‘the civilised world (and the rest)’.

 

All this confirms our view that a focus on processes of marginalisation and exclusion, and a wish to articulate these at all levels, is of critical importance. But at the same time as recent events have given added impetus to our concerns, the subsequent militarisation of western discourse, and the narrowing of political and humanitarian space, have also made them more difficult to address.

 

Our experience has been that there is no peace without justice, and that violence, whether physical or psychological, breeds further violence. Social, economic and political exclusion are all forms of psychological violence which ultimately express themselves in violence against the self, against the family, within the community, and at a wider state and international level. People subjected to exclusion become easier to divide and rule, and their opinions and emotions are easier to manipulate for strategic ends.

 

As an organisation which seeks to contribute to creating climates conducive to resolution of conflict and sustainable peace in the areas we work in, we therefore see addressing social justice as central. Social Justice includes the right to freedom of expression and dissent. It also includes equal treatment, not just in the eyes of the law, but also in the eyes of the media and all other institutions which are liable to be complicit in perpetration of injustice and inaction.

 

However, this work has been severely set back by the attacks themselves, and by Western led discourses about 'the free world' and 'the civilised world' over the last two weeks. No country that we work in is unaffected;

 

·       Senegal: President Wade proposes an African Pact against terrorism which would ‘accept African or international inspection of its territory ‘if there are indications that terrorist activities are being harbored there’ (IRIN 21 September)

 

·       Liberia has granted US use of its land and air space. A day after joining the international coalition, Liberia was rewarded by Bush in the form of an extension on a ban on deportation of Liberians in America; the administration believed that if they started deporting Liberians from America this might result in forcible deportation from West African states and therefore destabilise the region. A radio station, DC 101, which allowed allegedly anti-American sentiments of its listeners to be aired was closed down for 3 days and the presenter detained.  

 

·       In America the National Emergencies Act regarding UNITA was renewed by Bush on 24 September 2015. This forbids the sale of arms or fuel to UNITA.

 

·       A day after offering support for rooting out terrorism but not for military action, South Africa saw its currency devalue by 30%

 

·       In Uganda passenger luggage on bus routes is being checked – and Museveni used the hi-jacking of commercial airlines to justify his presidential jet

 

·       In Eritrea dissidents were rapidly rounded up and arrested

 

·       Countries seeking to dissociate themselves from 'fundamentalist' groups - Sudan, Ethiopia (Al-Ittihad was accused of being linked with Bin Laden), Somalia

 

·       In Uganda there is a 'proliferation and sale of Osama Bin Laden's pictures on Kampala's streets' (Own staff). Some of the hawkers selling them call themselves Ab Osama, or Osama’s boys

 

·       In Kenya a street in Mombasa has allegedly been renamed Bin Laden Street

 

·       Somalia: pro-Bin Laden demonstrations in Somalia

 

·       Nigeria; Muslim-Christian conflicts in the  city of Jos, which resulted in some 2000 people dead in the ten days following the bombings. According to the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Charlie Cobb (Jnr) on 19 September 2015, ‘no only do you have what happened in New York and Washington, but then on top of it, it ignites further violence somewhere else. I think it is one of those very tough, sensitive, Nigerian, domestic issues’. Asked whether in his view now was a more dangerous moment for that conflict in his view, he answered ‘Not in a material way more dangerous than 50 years ago or a hundred years ago. I don’t think so. I think we know about it more thanks to CNN and AllAfrica.com. I just think our awareness level is higher’…

 

Some leadership statements:

·       South Africa: ‘Terrorists should be isolated through international co-operation to build an equitable world order’ SA Cabinet)

·       Museveni: ‘with justice we are more likely to have a safer world’

·       Chissano urged the US to think before reacting and to ‘be responsible in your actions’

·       Moi urged restraint

·       Tanzania urged that the perpetrators be brought to justice

·       Sassou Nguesso of Republic of Congo offered to help bring those responsible to justice


Some Draft talking points on Terror and Terrorism

for QED Meeting at ODI

Friday 29 September 2015

 

Kevin P Clements

International Alert

 

 

Those who experienced the tragedy of the World Trade Centre events (which was pretty near the whole world) were traumatised. As always in cases of serious trauma people go through shock, denial, and anger. The challenge facing conflict resolvers is to ensure that people do not get stuck at the anger phase since this never generates creative solutions. We have to work out ways of ensuring that people move through anger to a point where that   can be replaced by understanding and a response aimed at ensuring such events do not happen again. This understanding, however, should not be construed as conferring impunity on the perpetrators. 

There are two points on which most people are agreed:

 

(i)   Those who helped plan and implement the September 11 violence in the United States need to be held accountable under international law.

 

(ii)  At the same time it is vital that attention be directed towards addressing the root causes of terrorist activity. Unless these are dealt with, all the diplomatic, military and intelligence responses will address symptoms rather than the underlying sources of terrorism. The conflict resolution community has a special responsibility to make sure that we devise plausible and realistic nonviolent responses to those who are committed to violence and threat based power.

 

(iii) The polling data on responses to the conflict in Britain are mixed. Most people are in favour of a military response to terror but most people are also opposed to any indiscriminate use of force which inflicts harm on innocent civilian populations. On the other hand (at least a week after the crisis began) 75-80% of the population was willing to sacrifice some civil liberties in order to protect security.  (This is an understandable reaction to fear and insecurity but when considered in the cold hard light of day it may dissipate somewhat). This Polling data, suggests, therefore, that there is outrage, anger but also a strong sense that it be directed at the guilty and not at the innocent.

 

(iv) One of the other slightly surprising elements of the response was that most people, while acknowledging that this was a global calamity also started asking questions about all the other victims of unjustified violence in other societies. 6,000 dead (even in a single act of violence) in a country of 300 million (while calamitous, is not as high a proportion of the population as the number of civilians killed in the last two years in Israel/Palestine. Nor, is it anywhere near the devastation visited on Burundi, Rwanda, the Congo, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Sierra Leone, or many other lands. Afghanistan, itself has had 25 years of civil war and two years of famine, with hundreds of thousands in refugee camps and nine ethnic communities at war with each other. All of these environments are the breeding ground for humiliation, anger, and despair

 

(v)  So what is Terrorism? It has to be said that our knowledge on this is slight. Most of the explanations are too simplistic and much work remains to be done on the psychology, sociology and politics of terrorist activity and terrorists.  Lenin said that “the purpose of terrorism is to terrorise”. While this may have been true at the turn of the last century. It is clear that the 11 September acts while generating terror were also much more explicitly political as well.  They were attacks on The World Trade Centre, they were attacks on the Pentagon both powerful symbols of American economic and military power. 

 

(vi) My friend and colleague Richard Rubenstein at the Institute for Conflict Analysis at George Mason University asserts that “ Terrorism is violence by small groups claiming to represent massive constituencies and seeking by “heroic” provocative attacks to awaken the masses, redeem their honour, and generate an enemy over reaction that will intensify and expand the struggle” This is a good working definition which helps us begin to understand why September 11 took place.  But we need to go further than this.  We need to understand why apparently ordinary and intelligent human beings, (who enrolled at universities in Germany, the UK and elsewhere) could bring themselves to take the lives of innocent civilians in pursuit of their particular cause.  The stock response is to say that they are fanatics and that fanatics are by definition crazy or at least given to profound mental instability.  Either that or they have been gripped by evil forces over which they have no control. (E.g. Osama Bin Laden exerting the sort of influence over his cadres as Charles Manson did over his followers many years ago).  Neither of these explanations is sufficient to explain the rational, calculations that went into the design and implementation of the attacks on the US three weeks ago.

 

(vii) The reality is that most terrorists are sociologically and psychologically normal. They are young adults of higher than average economic status and education.  They tend to be very idealistic and driven by religious or philosophical values rather than by material incentives.  They tend to come from very normal home backgrounds—although some have experienced deep personal trauma as well--. The question still remains, therefore, which is what turns ordinary people into “terrorists”.

 

(viii) Stephen Jay Gould in an article in the Guardian called  "Ground Zero's vital crumbs of comfort” makes the nice point that  "Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be built step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant. Thus in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the "ordinary " effects of a vast majority". Thus when we ask why normal people are willing to commit egregious acts we have to look to economic and political circumstances which turn “good” people into people capable of committing evil acts.

 

(ix) There are three very important environmental factors which help explain the emergence of terrorism generally and Islamic terrorism in particular.

 

(x)  First most terrorists strongly identify with peoples who are oppressed, divided and subject to economic deprivation, political exploitation and intense violence. Often there is violence in their own backgrounds – they have friends or relatives who have been killed or tortured.  And it is not just oppression that enrages them, but cultural, religious, or personal humiliation. Humiliation of anyone arouses the deepest defensive responses. They are seeking not just to avenge a defeat but to vindicate their honour. It is this defence of honour which people in the West have most difficulty understanding. It is a concept that has been trivialised in the West while retaining much more central importance in non-Western cultures. It is a profoundly important concept because it can animate deep and intense kin and community affiliations as well. These groups are not defending their “interests” but their identity.    This is probably the most powerful motivator for good or ill in any environment. Challenges to identity are challenges to our deepest concepts of self.

 

(xi) Second, the enemy that has defeated and humiliated them is both an outsider – a foreign power wielding fearsome weapons and promoting alien cultural values. (in this instance the United States and its Western allies) – and an insider– a ruling class that collaborates with the outsider and which many Arab  “patriots” consider a traitor. This is what makes the current conflict so confusing to Westerners and it is why the responses from within the Middle East are so mixed. The Saudis who may have been involved in the Sept. 11 attacks saw their own government cooperate with U.S. efforts in Iraq that killed 75,000, and then watched the “sacred soil” of Saudi Arabia   occupied by U.S. forces allied with the Saudi royal family.  Extreme Islamic groups from Palestine to Pakistan feel the same way about their own leaders. Yasser Arafat, for example, is considered by many to have conceded to much in the peace process and is presiding over an authority that is corrupt and not delivering welfare to its people. President Musharraf in Pakistan, for example, may be making his already tenuous regime even more precarious by responding so positively to the US appeal to join the war on terrorism.  The Islamic Community -while varied and diverse- is also united, however, around the necessity to defend its core values, its core identity against what is perceived as attitudes and behaviour that subvert it.

 

(xii) Third, new style terrorists are seldom represented by an organized mass movement.  Either because their people won’t follow them or because state terror makes it impossible to organize openly.  They, therefore, form decentralized networks and take the burden of the struggle upon themselves.  It is important to note that this situation of relative isolation dictates a typical strategy.  Modern Terrorists commit highly provocative, atrocious acts that will tempt their enemies to over-react, and by over-reacting, to force the oppressed people to choose between them and the “traitors.” In this instance, no one has claimed responsibility. There is no one who wishes to be known and held responsible for the act. Its political value, therefore, lies in the response it generates. In this sense it is a case of true terror. It terrorises from the shadows and no one can evaluate its strength. No one knows where it might hit next and yet everyone can see its power to inflict damage on civilian, economic, political and military targets. This type of organisation is very typical of many operating within Central Asia. In Uzbekistan, for example, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is organised in this way, with well funded, decentralised and fully empowered cells capable of inflicting violent attacks on a range of targets.

 

(xiii) If these three factors help explain the emergence of dedicated terrorist groups then it is vital that we start devising solutions that address each one of them. It is clear that none of these can be dealt with on a short-term basis; each one requires a long-term strategy. To this extent the restraint being shown by military policy makers is commendable. But if the restraint is simply a reflection of the fact that the military has not been able to identify realistic targets, (e.g.   “we do deserts not mountains”, “there is no point firing a 1 million pound cruise missile at tents”) rather than developing a coherent emergency relief, humanitarian assistance and sophisticated development programme for addressing the longer term issues then policy makers are simply postponing long term solutions. A military response that forces disaffected, oppressed peoples to choose between their leaders and those of their assumed oppressors will generate many more terrorists in the future and the political objectives of those who attacked America will have been realised.

 

(xiv) This moment represents an opportunity for thinking more creatively about a new kind of globalism, one where we have to really take seriously the idea of global citizenship with all that this requires in terms of new forms of regional and global institutions; new responsibilities and obligations and new concepts of global welfare. These acts are a wake up call and reminder that the west is not secure in a world so radically divided into rich and poor, included and excluded, marginalised and centralised, celebrity and non-celebrity. September 11 should force us all to focus new attention on the nature of governance. Until now the West has assumed that as long as its oil supplies have been secured it does not matter whether the regimes who control such resources are oppressive, mediaeval or corrupt. These questions are on the agenda everywhere. September 11 forces all of us to begin asking some searching questions about what is valuable and vital, what is trivial and expendable; what is likely to endure and what is ephemeral. It also forces us to think rapidly about ways and means of responding to past humiliations and slights. It also forces us to think much more systematically about the role of history in precipitating acts in the present. The Durban conference on racism failed to get global acknowledgement of the humiliations of past and present slavery. The Palestine/Israeli conflict continues without prospect of rapid resolution. Both of these issues are important triggers to desperate action on the part of ordinary people. September 11 is a reminder that this planet has indeed shrunk in the last 50 years and we are all responsible for the welfare of each other as well as ourselves. This is the challenge of the 21st century.

 


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