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    08 August 2007

    Terrorism expert Tom Quiggin has himself a blog

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    So, via Crooked Timber, I've learned that terrorism expert Tom Quiggin has started blogging. His first few posts are must reads--though most seem to be op-eds. His voice will be of great benefit to this blog and others. I've already added a few of his posts to the side bar on the left there as Del.icio.us links (note: this new feature may be moved to the right hand side as my redesign continues). I'm going to share a few points from a Monday post about being moral versus moral clarity in the context of the war on terrorism:
    Terrorism and other forms of political violence can be defeated. The approach needed must quickly transcend the typical military responses that follow an attack and must include an ideological, cultural and social response that undermines the terrorist groups’ moral positions. The situation since 9/11 is decidedly mixed, even worsening. The moral high ground has been ceded to the jihadists and they have been quick to use it in their propaganda. The attack on Iraq is seen for what is was, an attack to support regional domination. The prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, itself nearing its fifth year of notoriety, may have had some short-term utility or justification as an emergency response. Now it stands out as the symbol of loss. The photos out of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were a dream come true for the jihadi propagandists. Civilian casualties resulting from the Israeli attack on Lebanon give them further ammunition.

    We now appear to be living in an Age of Fear, with many governments exploiting this to carry out agendas that have little to do with terrorism. Ironically, the United States is living with most of this fear. Fear, like terrorism, cannot be defeated with power. Why are we not getting the knowledge and capability that we need to prevail in the struggle against terrorism?

    One key problem is there is little to no public debate about the root causes of terrorism or how to battle it. Most public discussion is so overly simplistic as to be ridiculous. The terrorists, we are told, hate us because they hate our freedom. Yet Bin Laden himself has mocked this. If he really hated freedom, he has said, “Why did we not attack Sweden?” The press and many academics also pursue stories to determine whether an attack such as the July 7, 2005, bombings in London were directed by al-Qaeda. Yet rarely do we see intelligent debate on how or why home-grown jihadists have become radicalized and how this varies from state to state, independent of any direct recruiting by al-Qaeda.

    Governments and intelligence agencies need to regain the moral high ground in the struggle against political violence and terrorism. Only then will the terrorists be undermined and the agencies of the governments be able to attract agents within the terrorist communities to aid them. If the high ground is not regained, then the best policy for governments is to develop a tolerance for further disasters.

    Good stuff.

    Just to clarify I'm not advocating a "wait them out" strategy here...

    Posted by Geoff

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