Reflections on Terror

31 May

We all knew Manchester was coming.

Of course we did. We knew our enemies. We knew how they like to spread terror. We knew just how far they are prepared to go to weaken and eventually destroy our civilisation. We knew that, sooner or later, there would be (another) major terrorist attack on British streets. We didn’t know the precise details, of course, but we knew it was coming. The cold-blooded murder of a number of innocent civilians – mostly teenage girls – was predictable.

Terrorists want us to be afraid. They want us to believe that anywhere could be a target, that the next man behaving oddly or woman in a full-body veil is on the verge of blowing him/herself up and taking countless innocents with him. Fear paralyses. Fear causes us to doubt ourselves. Fear … makes it impossible to think rationally and confront an overwhelming threat. And what is more fearsome than random destruction and death?

It is fear that will destroy us. From a purely materialistic point of view, the combined firepower of every terrorist group in the world is no match for a single Western power. As painful as every terrorist attack from 9/11 to Manchester were, they were nothing more than pinpricks. But they do not feel like pinpricks. Barring terrorists somehow getting their hands on nuclear or biological weapons – and we know they have been trying to do just that – their ability to hurt us is limited. It is fear that convinces us that that is not true.

Terrorists and schoolyard bullies have two things in common. First, they are often very good – instinctively good – at exploiting weaknesses to secure their position. The average classroom bully may not actually bully many children, but he or she will know how to use what bullying he does do to ensure that the other children will defer to him. It may not be nice to watch as a bully bullies, but it’s better than being bullied yourself.

Second, they are often very good at convincing people to make excuses for them. The bully had a troubled upbringing, the bully was abused or bullied himself, the bully is too scared to relax … bullies are masters at exploiting such excuses to prevent people in authority from taking action against them. Indeed, it is often easier, in this day and age – when teachers have little true authority to punish a bully – to blame the victim for being victimised. Witness the string of excuses made for terrorists ever since 9/11. If terrorists can present themselves as being justified, with plenty of useful idiots ready to agree that the terrorist is ‘punching up,’ or was somehow provoked, and other such stupidities, they can weaken our resolve to fight back.

Bullies do not need to be beaten into bloody pulps to force them to think twice about their actions. What they do need is to have it made clear to them, very clear, that such behaviour will not be tolerated and, more importantly, that their victims will be protected. One does not have to break a bully’s leg to show the sort of firmness that a bully needs to see. Terrorists, too, need to have it made clear to them that terrorism will get them nothing, but unmarked graveyards and eternal humiliation. But this is not easy. It is far easier for those in authority to put their fingers in their ears, pay the danegeld and pretend it doesn’t matter.

Our current situation is the result of major political misjudgements stretching all the way back to 1945. It is time to take a good hard look at the problem facing us and move to confront it before it is too late. We cannot co-exist with terrorists.

Back in 2001, I stated that – unless something was to change – there were only two possible outcomes to the conflict.

First, the election of hard right-wing governments when centre-right and left-wing governments proved unable to cope. These governments would destroy civil liberties in the name of protecting us from terror and, after the terrorist threat was destroyed, continue to seek out new threats to justify their existence. At best, we’d be looking at something akin to Franco’s Spain; at worst, Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia.

Second, the extremists would win. This would be worse.

The core problem with groups like AQ, ISIS and even the Taliban is that they have no true sense of governance. Put bluntly, they don’t know when to stop. Nor do they accept defeat, even a defeat mandated by their own rules. They – like every other extremist group throughout history – will keep reinventing the revolution as long as they can, seeking out new enemies to keep their populations from wondering if it is time to lighten up a little. Such groups practice ethnic cleansing, slaughtering everyone who doesn’t share their faith in every detail, mass population control (such as turning women into chattel) and constant brutality to keep the population in line. This would be utterly disastrous for everyone, up to and including the useful idiots. At best, Iran or Saudi Arabia; at worst, Afghanistan, Rwanda or Somalia.

Right now, far too many of our politicians believe they can sit on the fence and maintain the balance. They believe they don’t have to make the hard choices. But this has undermined both their position and faith in democracy – if the population believes the elites no longer represent them (a growing trend) why should they vote for them? Why not vote for the parties who promise to deal with a very real threat? Those who gloated about Geert Wilders losing the election on March 15 should, perhaps, be a little more concerned about the vast numbers who voted for him. And, perhaps, just how their attempts to squash Wilders look to voters who no longer feel that their leaders are looking out for them.

Our goal must be to defeat our enemies and uphold civilisation, without undermining the fabric of our civilisation. This will not be easy. But it must be done. The alternative is worse.

17 Responses to “Reflections on Terror”

  1. BobStewartatHome May 31, 2017 at 8:26 pm #

    I’m a bit mystified by your “hard right-wing” characterization of the unpleasant possibility of the reincarnation of Hitler- or Stalin-like tyrannies. Both were leftists. But the distinction between right and left got blurred when Stalin’s useful idiots had to wheel about following the invasion of the Soviet Union. Which is to say that words don’t necessarily mean the same thing from one regime to the next. The old nomenclature also carried with it a different meaning for liberal. A century ago, liberal meant the protection of individual rights. Today, liberal means the control of the individual except for their sexual and pharmaceutical preferences, which are honored beyond any rational measure.

    I bring this up because it is important to identify your enemy. In this case, the terrorism is a symptom of rot in the elitist governments of western societies. Open borders, welfare, and a yearning to lead a “peaceful life” will always result in what we see today. Letting perverted males use the girls bathroom is a more ridiculous example of their folly, but again, these are symptoms, not root causes.

    Elitist dogma is that diversity is an unalloyed good; discrimination … the rational analysis of differences between options … is bad; nationalism … public support for the community and respect for the duties inherent in citizenship … is bad; the centralized control of all individual actions, even the purchase of toasters in the UK but excluding sexual cravings, is good; as is special interest politics wherein supporters of the central government are given first choice in all the entitlements. These notions are societal suicide pacts. But we’ve adopted them piecemeal for five decades.

    • Vapori May 31, 2017 at 9:46 pm #

      Stalin was extreme leftisit
      Hitler was actually pretty much a centrist, he had fairly right ideas in many aspects. But also many left ideas in others it was actually kinda balanced.
      suffice is to say, that he actually got into power with mostly right wing parties supporting him.

      And actually I think you are both wrong, the deeper root of the problem, is in the Wahhabits in Saudi Arabia and the Shia in Irans fighting an ideological Battel in the middle east since the 80’s. with a good bit of spillover in all directions, there are such attacks all over the globe, also in Russia and China not really governments that are to liberal in no sense of the word.

      After all nearly all parties in the west, are vowing to do more for security and do, so, of course some more and some less, but it’s a broad trend.

      I will stop at some point, but likely not in the next 20 years.

      and actually the problem always gets a bit overblown after such an attack.
      Sure it’s tragic, specially for the ones who were innocently targeted, and we surly live in oversensitive times, But when you look back, such bombings suicide attacks political assassination and so on were
      much more common at other times.

      Also in the 70 many eurpean states had problems with left terrorism, they got it usually under control after 5-15 years. The Problem now is of course bigger, but will still be dealed with.

      To stay with the Hitler example, before he got elected the deadrate caused by politically motivated violence was much higher, the jobless-rate much higher, and most other parameters pointing at stability were also far worse then there are in any major western state right now.

    • PhilippeO June 1, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

      Hitler and Stalin is right-wing.

      Hitler is obvious, he allied with big business and oppose Labor Union.

      Stalin is less obvious, Communism claim to be Left, but de facto of Stalin policy is Right-wing, he give enormous expansion of rights to Nomenclutura and Intelligentsia, increasing power of Elite against ordinary people.

      the Difference between Left and Right is whether they favor Elites (big business, media baron, nobility, communist party official) or favor ordinary people (worker, peasant, unemployed, uninsured, homeless, etc). the more distributed power and more equal status of citizen between society more Left society is.

  2. Tarun Elankath June 1, 2017 at 4:21 am #

    Anybody who has studied the propagation and history of Islam (mostly by mass slaughter of men, rape of women and conversion of children with some exceptions to the contrary), did some reading of the Quran, listened to the speeches and preaching of the Salafist Sunni Scholars – available with translation on youtube – and seen the syllabus of what small kids are formally educated by the state in rich countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar would realise that Islam is the single greatest threat to modern civilisation and human rights today.

    The Quran and the way it is interpreted by Wahhabist Islamic scholars makes the Mein Kampf look like a Bambi novel. All the moderate strains of Islam (Sufi, etc) have mostly been wiped out. Just a bit of research into what the majority of Islamic clerics are teaching children in the middle east today should make you change your mind about the ‘peaceful religion’ nonsense. The peace if any is the peace enforced through dogma and terror.

    Since Islam is a religion that insists that the words of Mohammed are inviolate and cannot be questioned, all the verses in the Quran that call for the faithful for war against the unbelievers can be used for radicalisation – and there are over a hundred such verses!

    Muslim youth who pray 5 times a day reciting the verses of the Quran are extraordinarily susceptible to influence. In a way they are trained to be easily brainwashed since childhood. And Islamic clerics are trained to proselytise as part of their religious studies in a way that even the most ardent of Christian priests cannot match. (Most Islamic clerics worth their salt can quote Quranic verses fluently from memory freely from point to point as rejoinders to any argument – they are extensively trained to do so and since the verses of the Quran are inviolate – well there can be no effective response)

    You have effectively 3 options in an Islamic nation today: convert to Islam, be eliminated/exiled or be subjugated. Subjugation involves Jizya – taxation on non-muslims called ‘dhimmis’. You are effectively treated as a third class citizen.

    Islamic is not merely a religion – it is an ENTIRE system of governance, conduct and laws. You cannot have both communism and democracy in a nation while preserving stability. Likewise you really can’t have both Islam and modern, free democracy with peace – unless you choose to bend over and accept some laws of Islam as applicable to your citizens. It is crazy that Western nations want to invite this poisonous cancer into their bodies.

    The internet has made the dream of a single unified Unmah (short for Ummat al-Islamiyah –
    the muslim state) a reality today. Your disaffected Muslim youth in first world countries can listen to the preaching of any hardline cleric in the middle east any time he becomes depressed. (The popular clerics are usually the hardliners).

    The initial Islamic immigrants/refugees will never be the problem. Even if they believe that gays are evil, etc, they are too grateful to their host nation to cause any violence. However, their children are not restrained from acting on hardline Islamic beliefs. Usually, it will always follow a pattern like: loner Muslim child, gets involved in petty crime, looks to reform taking guidance from cleric, gets ‘guidance’ from hardliner cleric, re-discovers his faith, gets radicalized, optionally travels to the cleric’s Islamic nation, attends a jihadi training camp, comes back to host nation..and well you know what happens next. This has happened so very many times that it is positively ludicrous. And it is going to happen more and more in the future. In order to catch Islamic terrorists, Western nations will need to sacrifice more and more privacy, more and more freedoms until all the rights are just historical documents.

    The primary problem is that resistance to Islamic immigration has been associated as ‘racism’, is termed as ‘Islamophobia’ and thus immediately becomes a subject on which one can have no honest, rational debate.

    • Sprout June 1, 2017 at 9:09 am #

      The primary problem is that the discussion is dominated by the extremists, as those are the ones who feel the most strongly about the topic. Engaging them unless you happen to share their viewpoint is an exercise in futility. It’s not like they don’t have a legitimate point to make; the problems come when they’ve gone so over the top with it as to pretty much inhabit an alternate reality to yours.

  3. PhilippeO June 1, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    But Wilders/Trump/UKIP is the ones who supports Fear. they using terrorist attack in attempt to justify authotarianism and destroying groups they dislike.

    We already have way to deal with Terrorist, with policing, rule of law, and limited precision strike to terrorist leader. Its slow, unglamorous, and based on thousands of small work, and need to be continued for decades. But it works, not in annihilating Terrorism but to continue slowly weaken them for years.

    Wilders, Trump and their ilk is selling Snake Oil, they sell magic solution that promise to deal with Terrorism, but their solution is false, not working, help terrorist and weaken successful Western Liberal Civilization that took centuries to build.

    in the end, Islamic Terrorism would follow Brader-Meinhof gang, IRA, KKK, and many other before. Eventually society that gives birth to them would realize their ineffectiveness and seek other ways to bring about healthysociety. It would take decades and there are no magic solution to turn sick society into healthy ones.

  4. andreas June 1, 2017 at 1:52 pm #

    How do you propose to defeat terrorism? The “war on Terror”, similar to the “war on Drugs”, doesn’t yield any results. Every drone strike creates more extremists. The Russians fought in the late 80ies the most brutal war in Afghanistan one can imagine without any results. Short of a genocide there is no way to defeat religious extremists by force.

    One has to stop the recruiting of more people into religious extremism. That only is possible when children are taken away from religious parents, so that they can not be indoctrinated by the poison of Religion.
    That needs to be done for every religion.
    Christians, Moslems, Hindus, Jews, they all tend to become extremists. The difference between a christian hard liner and moslem hardliner are the head scarf and pork.
    The belive in fairy tales with no grounding in reality is dangerous and needs to be stopped. People who belive, that the world is flat or 6000 years old, that belive the fairy tales in the quoran or bible, are dangerous and delusinal.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard June 1, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

      I don’t know of any “Hard-Liner” Christians who believe killing non-Christians is approved by G*d.

      As for your thoughts on “War On Terrorism”, I’m not sure the Western World has really started that fight.

      On the other hand, if you think it’s a worthless fight, you might as well “stop eating pork” and “start wearing the scarf”.

      On the gripping hand, Christians will fight the Muslims for you without insisting that you become Christians. Unless people like you decided that all Christians must “go away”.

      • andreas June 1, 2017 at 4:14 pm #

        There are Christians who bomb abortion-clinics. There is the whole Ku-Klux-Klan.
        You have the Anti-balaka Groups in Central Africa, which forcefully convert Muslims to Christians.
        There is the National Liberation Front of Tripura and the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland in India, which are christian terrorist movements..
        In Lebanon in the 80s and 90s Christian Militias made a genozid on muslims.
        In Uganda there is the Lord Restiance Army (the one with the Child Soldiers).
        In The USA you have the Army of God and a lot of christian nutjobs, that are responsible for Centennial Olympic Park bombing in 1996, the murder of Dr. David Gunn 1994, the murder of Dr. John Britton and James Barrett in 1994, the Murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009, The November 2015 Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting and so on …

        And in contrast to muslims, Christian Ideology has a big influence on western politics, like teaching creatonism instead of evolution in schools, prevent women from getting health care and so on.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard June 1, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

        In other words, you’re willing to accept shit from Muslims because Christians are assholes.

        Anti-Theists are fools when they accept garbage from Muslims while ranting about Christians.

        If you anti-theists were consistent, you would be calling for the suppression of Christians and Muslims. (Alone with other religions.)

      • Vapori June 1, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

        I think he wants to give any religious hardliner trouble not just Muslims.
        Well, how would you think a war against Terror should go?

        and religious nut-jobs were historically beaten in two ways.
        eigher broad extermination, and that is very unpopular and costly nowdays. Or the slower approach of isolating them.

        right now the main muslim nations who fool these terrorism, are swimming in oil money, with one of them backed by the US, and the second party backed by russia. No one will back down, and it will continue for a while at least with no real force to oppose them.

        hard line laws who get rid off all possible suspects will be more costly then the damage those nutjobs can do, and will hit vastly more innocents. then terrorists.

      • andreas June 1, 2017 at 7:41 pm #

        Yes, I’m against all religious hardliners. The Christian ones are at the Moment the biggest Problem, because they are changing the policies of western countries and imposing their archaic belives on us. Islamic Terrorists Just kill some People every now and then (way less then like alcohol). Even if all Muslim would disappear tomorrow, we would still have christian problem.

        So, how so we solve the Problem of religious Nutjobs?

        Vapori names two ways. Unless we go with the proposed but very unpopular genozid, Isolating would be the way.

        Could be hard. Geopoliticly nearly impossible, as Long as we need oil.
        The third way would be to educate the children, so that they don’t become religious nutjobs themselves.
        But in the USA that would be impossible, because they allow homeschooling and private Schools that teach fairy tales instead of scientific facts.
        There is no easy way.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard June 1, 2017 at 8:07 pm #

        I’m an American & a Christian and I’m tired of the anti-religious bigotry that’s common among the Left.

        The European Left has created the Islamic problem in Europe so they can solve it IMO without US help.

        Oh, if you are American, it is attitudes like yours that gave us Trump.

        Keep it up if you want more Trump.

  5. Mark June 2, 2017 at 9:10 pm #

    Paul, I’m sorry to say it was attitudes like yours that gave us Trump. He rode the Christian crazy train into office.
    I’m still mildly surprised they haven’t killed Trump, blamed it on the Left, and put Pence in charge. But why would they bother since he’s letting them do whatever they want?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard June 2, 2017 at 10:35 pm #

      Since some “Liberals” have talked about killing Trump, perhaps they should kill Pence first.

      Of course, too many Liberals would kill Trump thinking that it would make Hillary President.

      • Goldflabius June 4, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

        Look, I believe in a mans right to personal faith. I don’t care what your religious beliefs are as long as they are yours and only yours. The problem with Christians in the West, my personal experience being in the United States is that they try to legislate their beliefs on others. If a christian woman doesn’t want birth control on her health care plan that’s fine but having their employers say that no woman under their employ gets birth control that’s an imposition of belief. If christian parents want their child to be taught intelligent design and not evolution they have options they can home school their child or send him/her to a private religious school. Legislating that intelligent design which has no scientific basis be taught in public schools is an imposition of belief. Legislating protections for discrimination of the LGBT community. If you can’t put up a sign that says no blacks how is a sign that says no gays any different. That is an imposition of belief. Proper sex ed in schools, the states with the worst teen pregnancy rates are the ones that teach abstinence only sex ed. That is driven in part if not fully by christian belief in no sexual intercourse until marriage and those girls suffer for it. So I have no problem with Christians who go to church but keep their religious belief out of government. But evangelicals who somehow think their faith gives them the right to tell me and mine how to live our lives those people I have major problems with.

  6. Mark June 5, 2017 at 2:50 pm #

    Is there even such a thing as “Liberals”? It’s starting to sound like a catchall for anything people want to dismiss.

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