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Updated 8 Mar 2009

"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world,
and that is an idea whose time has come."
Victor Hugo

Karen Armstrong offers a map for the road ahead:

    "If fundamentalists must evolve a more compassionate assessment of their enemies in order to be true to their religious traditions, secularists must also be more faithful to the benevolence, tolerance, and respect for humanity which characterizes modern culture at its best, and address themselves more emphatically to the fears, anxieties, and needs so many of their fundamentalist neighbors experience but which no society may safely ignore."

Here is where politicians miss the boat. It s not about values, or economics; it is all about FEAR.

On a deeper level, terror is an expression by those who have been not only humiliated or alienated, by who are smart enough and wealthy enough to do something to act out their grievances in the most fundamental of ways. Those who bring about those conditions are often either sociopaths or feel trapped in a history of repeating violence as being the norm for humanity. However, the latter event need not be the case.

    With its broadly based origins, effective counter-terror action requires broadly based solutions. Most fundamentally, the war is between the poles of humanity itself. On the political level, the war is over ideas. Limited-concept wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are simply ineffective. International and intranational police action that is coordinated and concerted is badly needed. Following the British example in ridding India of Thugs would work better than what we are doing now. For the long term, a revision of our view that we are violent and nothing can be done about it, must change. Yes, many if not most of us are, or can be, violent. But we also have genes for parenting and altruism. It is time we began nurturing our more peaceful genes. At the same time we must find and limit those who have no conscience--the socio- or psychopaths among us. They are the ones who co-opt ideas, hijack organizations, religions, businesses, and yes, nations, strictly for their own ends.

      Peace can be accomplished in a generation or two--if we work hard on the roots. There is no magic wand, no easy answers. It will take all humankind in Dialogue to accomplish true peace.

      Remove inequalities that lead to underdog feeling--(for example):

      • Alienation (By the Oklahoma City bomber)
      • Humiliation (Loss of home turf and religious shrines--Palestine)
      • Deprivation (Loss of resources--to West, House of Saud, other local despots)
      • Politicized education (fostered by Islam especially, but elsewhere too.)
      • Ill use of Internal Locus of Control (preached by Islam and authoritarians in general)

      • Strengthen the economies and well being of terror producing and exporting nations to remove inequities,
      • Strengthen the UN to effectively deal with terror, and
      • Strengthen the separation of church and state.
      • Provide national dignity to nations and personal dignity to their people.
      • Integrate economic, ethnic and religious groups.
      • Encourage dialogue at all levels.

      Counter-terrorism requires integrating detailed police, political, cultural, social, psychological, and economic actions that are persistent and cooperative all over the world. Those nations refusing to join become suspect and the object of all those who do. The UN must encourage these procedures in each area.Each of these are part of the solution. These policies must be implemented NOW. War must be the last resort, not the first. Bush policies go opposite these basic requirements. For example, his timing in Iraq appears to have been politically motivated. Taking the information presented by Hans Blix, "Disarming Iraq," Paul O'Neill, "The Price of Loyalty," Richard Clarke, "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror", and news reports of the day, it is easy to conclude that Mr. Bush was purposely fudging the stories. Among the drum beats was the fear that bin Laden and Hussein were allied. Two wars later, bin Laden is alive and well and still active in Iraq where he was not before--one of the very things we were told that justified the war came to pass. In fact, Mr.Bush:

      • planned to go to war in Iraq all along and used terrorism as an excuse.
      • continued specific sanctions that devastated the health system in Iraq with particular impact on children.
      • selected highly dubious intelligence to support his concepts of Iraq.
      • ignored a last ditch response by Hussein to allow inspections anywhere; Mr. Bush preferred war to a more peaceful solution--he proclaimed on national TV: "I am a war-president."
      • confused war in Iraq with fighting terror when war has only increased the worldwide frequency of terrorism.

    It should be no surprise that he

      • found no weapons of mass destruction of any kind.
      • found no connection between Iraq and al Qa'ida.
      • went after a dictator guilty of genocide while ignoring others even more guilty--the difference being oil.

    One can only conclude that Mr. Bush had his own political agenda, and fighting terror was not high on his list. Nowhere do we see him trying to balance the scales that lead to alienation, humiliation, and deprivation. Only when forced to by the international community did Mr. Bush acknowledge that the UN even has a role to play.

    The following section is a beginning toward finding redress of these long-term issues.

      Three contemporary studies address the problem of violence and among them seem to have filled in some of the gaps which increases hope for a solution.

      Ashutosh Varshney, "Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life," illustrates that ethnic integration at all levels provides positive results; his work needs affirmation before general adoption as it is still somewhat controversial in knowledgeable quarters. Nevertheless, his ideas seem to fit our observations. The UN adopted his findings.

      Paul R. Brass, a critic of Varshney, argues that inciting conflict is a deliberate political event on the part of the police, criminal elements, and members of the business community. Here too observations seems to fit his interpretation.

      Jessica Stern has produced a marvelous and deep study of religious terrorism: "Terror in the Name of God." When religious terror groups form, they are usually altruistic and ideological and pursue real or perceived grievances. Usually also, the original bases become corrupted such that hatred and greed replaces grievance. And early passions give way to terror as a way of life for the religious terrorists as they pursue a mixture of religious, political and economic goals. Although a great deal has been learned, no one yet has complete answers. More and still better information is needed.

      Meanwhile we endorse the findings of Varshney and Stern as the most insightful and likely to provide elements of a solution. Brass's criminal element is recognized in Stern's work; it should not be neglected as its presence governs how one responds to terror tactically. The criminals of course are the sociopathic fringe.

      Afghanistan (supporting international terrorism) and Iraq (not supporting international terrorism) are cases in point. We further believe that genocide is a terror that must be addressed internationally. Genocide could hardly be the issue in Iraq. Africa practices genocide regularly, essentially with impunity.

    See also: Monotheism and Violence for our take in parallel with Stern. Stern relied on actual interviews; we employed research reported by others. Nevertheless we are in basic agreement with her on religious terrorism. Our studies are complimentary. Karl Deutsch, in his analysis of modern Europe provides further guidance in three arenas: International law is one improvement. Deutsch makes the point that it must help, not reform the world to the extent that nation states lose their sovereignty.

    Pluralistic-security communities work better than federations, because sovereignty is not such a critical issue.

    Limited functionalism, as with the European Common Market, adds to overall prosperity and integration, and these reduce humiliation.

    A preliminary guideline to find guidance appears in the following box:

    If we are to progress against violence and terrorism, we must first learn what motivates the terrorist on an empathetic level.

    We must discover why Honolulu and El Paso are so peaceful, and why Tokyo is more peaceful still, while Washington DC, Detroit and Baltimore lead the world cities in violence.

    We must learn what lies beneath the violent monotheisms in contrast with the peaceful Buddhists and the Eastern Religions

    What is so enduring about Chinese culture that China has never been an expansionistic power in the European mold?

    We must interpret our discoveries scientifically at the deepest levels of sociology, psychology, and genetics -- not play politics, rationalize, or look to the next election.

    Above all, we must implement our findings as soon as they are proven.

    Diplomatically, we must foster pluralistic "security communities" and expand "limited functionalism<" such as the European Market and its Euro.

    Individually and society-wise, we must provide environments for our children that instill them with an internal Locus of Control.

    Jessica Stern emphasizes that we must not play into the hands of the terrorists by:

    Overreacting on either the personal or national level

    Using the wrong tools

    Continuing to dehumanize those making up cultures more conservative and less modern than ours,

    Ignoring the historic antipathy toward progressive ideas by the nations of Islam, and

    Not realizing why and how terrorists are radicalized in the first place.

    These "to-dos" and "should-not-dos" were not even on the radar screen for the Bush Administration, most of Congress, the Supreme Court. We can only hope that the Obama Administration will do better. It has made a good start.

    These issues may not provide a "final solution" but had we implemented them in 2001, they would have given us a great boost and the features that worked could have been implemented for far less than the $1000 billion that has been sunk in Iraq. This is aside from hundreds of thousands of lives in direct and indirect casualties that could have been saved.