Thursday, July 07, 2005

What to do about terrorism?

There are many blogs from left, right, and center condemning today's bombing in London. This is surely something that everyone in the Canadian blogosphere joins in condemning.

There are differing ideas about what should be done in response. There will inevitably be calls for military action--though the inevitable question is how to pick the target and the unfortunate possibility that some military actions will only become a recruiting tool for the enemy. So, too, police actions. Some will call for action to remove 'the causes of terrorism'. But what are those? Supposing that the ideology behind this recent outrage was caused by a lack of freedom, democracy, or any other good strikes me as extraordinarily naive. The one course we can agree on is to denounce it. But words are insufficient, and since part of the terrorist strategy is to seek publicity, terrorists are likely to believe that the harsher the condemnation, the better.

The sad fact of terrorism is that, like being in quicksand, almost anything that we do will make it worse. Yes, let us improve internal security. Yes, let us strengthen our intelligence and arrest those whom we can catch. And, yes, destroy the infrastructure where we can. But the best revenge, as they say, is living well.


JimBobby said...

Whooee! Well BuckFeller, yer right 'bout retaliation bein' counterproductive, no two ways. I wrote me a little boog story on this here terrism in London an' I sed I figger we gotta get t' the bottom of it by stoppin' youngsters from thinkin' suicide bombin' an' killin' civvies is a good thing. We oughta be able t' get such a simple idee across, sez I.

Livin' well might be good revenge so long as it ain't vengeful livin' well t' thumb yer nose at them that ain't livin' well in Palestine or Baghdad or Parkdale. If livin' well is meant as an example o' how good it is t' live in the West, then mebbe it'll inspire sum wannabee terrists that they'd be better off with a swimmin' pool an' a big screen TV than with eternal salvation. It might be a tough sell, come t' think of it.

Yores trooly,

Aeolus said...

"Supposing that the ideology behind this recent outrage was caused by a lack of freedom, democracy, or any other good strikes me as extraordinarily naive."

Yes and no. Bin Laden and company don't want more freedom, they want to establish theocracies with a lot less freedom. But if Middle Eastern and central Asian nations had strong democratic traditions and institutions, I doubt that fanatical movements would have nearly the same appeal. It's unlikely that terrorism will ever be completely eliminated, but with the right conditions surely it could be greatly reduced. My disagreement with Bush and Blair has less to do with their rhetoric than with the strong suspicion that (a) the real motivation for US foreign policy is not to spread democracy but to advance US hegemony around the world, and (b) invading Iraq has made the terrorism problem worse.